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Strategies to Eat Healthy When You’re Short on Time

High angle point of view of female hands cutting Portobello mushrooms. Various fresh and healthy vegetables are on wooden table. Woman is cooking food. She is domestic kitchen.

No matter how much you may want to make healthy choices, it can sometimes feel like there simply isn’t time. Between racing to work, getting the kids to school, sports and after-school activities, quick and easy meals are key.

But just because you’re busy doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice healthy eating choices, and eating well doesn’t have to take up a lot of your precious time. All it takes is a little foresight and planning.

Here are a few tips to help make healthy eating for you and your family a perfectly manageable part of your to-do list.

  1. Plan Ahead

For some busy folks, planning a week’s worth of meals seems impossible. But our friends at BOKS Kids tell us that preparation is a key factor in maintaining a healthy diet. They suggest that when you’re out and about, it can be hard to find healthy choices. That’s why it’s a good idea to plan ahead! Create a snack pack that you can keep in your car, children’s bag, or stroller for those times when hunger strikes! Grab some non-perishable items like nuts, fruit leather, dried fruit, unflavored popcorn, and bottled water, and pack a gallon sized plastic bag or container with all of the items. With this snack pack you’ll always be prepared to combat a sneaky snack attack while keeping your family’s health in mind.

  1. Get Organized with Grocery Lists
Family in grocery store making the healthy choice the easy choice.

Take some time one day every week to plan recipes and make a shopping list. Then visit the grocery store and purchase all of the ingredients for those recipes in advance. Keeping a list and sticking to it saves time, money and unhealthy food from “landing” in your shopping cart. Our friends at Sesame Street even had some great advice about including your children in the grocery shopping! Together, plan a meal that includes at least three different colors, like red peppers, black beans, and brown rice. Then help them make their own shopping list and have them hunt for each item!

And when your day just isn’t going according to plan, make sure your pantry is well stocked with plenty of ingredients that you can use for fast, family-friendly and yes, good-for-you meals. Those ingredients include beans, rice, canned tomatoes, whole grain pasta, a variety of herbs and spices, and lentils.

  1. Fuel Up in the Morning

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it’s important that you put your best foot forward by giving your family a healthy start. And truthfully, even a quick breakfast is better than no breakfast.

Load up on fruits and vegetables by starting your day with a nutritious blended drink. This Tropical Berry Smoothie from Dannon is an easy way to incorporate fruit into your AM routine. Get a load of nutritional benefits when you drink your avocado, such as this Beet, Pineapple, Avocado and OJ Smoothie from Avocados From Mexico.

Need to pick up something on the go? Swing by your local convenience store for a variety of morning meal options. Grab some bananas at KwikTrip and pair with a high fiber cereal bowl pack or an oatmeal bowl pack for a satisfying morning meal.

  1. Snacks To Go

Before your stomach grumblings lead you to becoming full-blown hangry, remember that there are plenty of ways to snack smarter. Not only is stocking your kitchen with healthy options important, but so is stocking the other places where you spend time during the day. If you do a lot of driving – especially shuttling the kids between school and activities – keep nuts, home made granola, or other healthy snacks in the car if you find yourself frequently tempted to hit the drive through.

  1. Know Where to Grab a Healthy Meal Fast

While it’s great to cook at home, there will always be days when you just need to grab something and go. The good news is that calorie labeling on restaurant menus can help you make informed and healthful decisions about your meals and snacks. Otherwise, know the menu at the places that you frequent and look for menu items that are marked as healthier options.

Woman eating a sandwich and staring out a train window.

Subway sandwich shops have made its menu even better and easier for guests to make informed menu choices. And for your little ones, they offer Fresh Fit for Kids Meals that include a Fit mini sub, fresh apple slices and a low-fat milk!

Many convenience store chains are now offering a wider selection of healthier and heartier meal options including made-to-order and hot dishes. Sheetz even offers a nutrition calculator that lets you keep track of calories, fat, carbs and more.

  1. Batch Cook and Freeze Leftovers for Later

Look for healthy recipes that make a lot of servings and freeze well. Some ideas are soups, stews, chili, or casseroles. These are all foods that you can cook in large batches and serve to your family throughout the month. Store the extras in your refrigerator if they’ll be eaten in the next few days. Or, pop the leftovers in the freezer and defrost them for an easy dinner at a later date.