Women are busy! We often put too many events in our schedule, stay up later than we should, put everyone’s needs before our own, and end up eating on the go and relying on take-out for family dinners. As a result, we tend to believe that eating healthy is too time consuming and expensive to be practical for our busy lives. Wrong! I’m here to tell you how to eat healthy, even on your busiest days.
I’m going to share my own strategies as an example. While I am not a certified nutritionist, I have come up with a meal plan and schedule that work for me and my family. Here’s what you need to know:
- Starting on the Saturday or Sunday of every week, I make a menu using several of my favorite cookbooks: Mayo Clinic, Healthy Food Fast, Williams and Sonoma, Barefoot Contessa, Cooking Light, and Bon Appetit.
- I choose the menu based on what looks tasty plus what is likely to be seasonal. I also take requests from my family.
- I choose several items that I can make ahead and several dishes that I will make fresh (the day they will be served).
- On the written menu, I make note of everyone’s schedule, including sporting events or practices and late-night work schedules.
- I also add in school and work lunches, as well as healthy snacks.
- When I am finished with all of the details, I make my grocery list.
- On Sunday, I make at least one dinner for Monday or Tuesday, plus a heavy soup or stew for Sunday evening (or a roast that I can use to make another meal later in the week).
- On the weekday nights when I am home to make dinner, I also put together a casserole for the next night (possibly from the leftovers from the roast on Sunday).
- I have been doing this type of meal prep system for several years, and it has worked well. Most nights, my family has a healthy, home-cooked meal.
- In the morning, I make a smoothie with almond milk, frozen berries, frozen bananas, and Brazil nuts.
- Midmorning I have one half of a Clif® Protein Builders Bar or an EcoTrek® Fitness Whole Food Bar.
- Lunch includes a salad with meat from a restaurant, the hospital cafeteria, or from home. My favorite salad has arugula or mixed greens, vegetarian frozen buffalo wings (MorningStar Farms®), veggies (whatever is in the refrigerator), brown rice or leftover roasted sweet potatoes, cranberries, a drizzle of olive oil, and a shake of salt.
- Midafternoon I eat the other half of my protein bar, a piece of fruit, coffee, and water.
- Dinner consists of whatever protein I make for my family (such as roasted salmon or pork tenderloin), a hot vegetable (such as roasted broccoli, cauliflower or carrots), plus a salad. I make a carb for my family, but I choose not to eat it.
- If I am still not satisfied after dinner, I make a cup of tea with stevia or agave as a sweetener.
- I usually have all carbs eaten by 3:00 p.m., but if I have planned to exercise after the house is quiet at night, I might eat a banana before I exercise to give me the energy for a strong workout session. Otherwise, I don’t have any food after dinner.
Many of my patients tell me, “I am too busy to eat healthy,” or “I am confused — carbs or no carbs, meat or no meat; I don’t know what to choose.” It can seem hard to put together a healthy menu for your busy lifestyle, but with the meal prep guidelines and practical tips I’ve shared with you, I think you will agree it is possible (and not all that difficult) to feel good at the end of the day about what food you put into your body.