For many of us the end of summer marks the start of back-to-school season and a return to the daily grind after summer’s slower, easier pace. Staying (and eating) healthy when we’re busy can be challenging, so being prepared is key. With some smart meal planning (and a few healthy ideas for eating out) in your back pocket, you can keep your health on track - even when life picks up the pace.
Prep for the Week Ahead
Try to get to the grocery store before the week begins to stock up on fresh, healthy meal options for the week. My weekly shopping list always includes eggs, cooked turkey, organic chicken breast and vegetables that can keep for a week. For weeks when getting to the grocery store isn’t possible (we all have them), be sure your freezer is stocked with 3-5 frozen meals (aim for under 300 calories) and frozen organic fruits and veggies like spinach for sides. This avoids mish-mash dinners when you run late or worse yet, skipping dinner, which always backfires into grazing on cereal, then chips & dip, some cookies, and back to chips. When there’s a full meal waiting in the freezer, a healthy dinner’s just minutes away.
Eating at Home
When you do have time to cook, batch cook! Make something you can use for meals later in the week. Remember those chicken breasts and eggs you bought Sunday? Night One: Dip the breasts in egg, roll in breadcrumbs/chips, bake at 400° for 25 minutes. Top with arugula, cherry tomatoes and a squeeze of lemon for healthy Chicken Milanese. Night Two: Pour healthy marinara sauce and organic part-skim shredded mozzarella over the chicken and heat in the oven for Healthified Chicken Parm. Serve over spaghetti squash to satisfy your pasta cravings, or toasted on whole wheat for a healthy Chicken Parm Hero! Day Three: Put leftovers over a salad of greens, tomato and cucumber, with some balsamic vinegar on the side. Easy as one, two, three!
In an ideal world, we’d all have a million hours to cook every meal at home, but let’s be real — sometimes we’re out and need to eat. Just because you’re at a fast food place with the kids doesn’t mean making bad choices or forgetting healthy eating habits. Stop, pause and think: Asian Chicken Salad or Burger and Fries? Lots of national chains list calories on their menus now, making it easier to find something in a good range. Whether it’s Whole Foods or fast food, there’s something available that won’t totally derail your healthy lifestyle. The idea is just to make the best possible choice, no matter where you are.