With work, school, kids, sports, keeping up with housework, spending time with family and friends, and all other activities that we want to take part in, its no wonder so many people feel like there is no time to eat healthy. The good news is that eating healthy doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. A little planning and time can go a long way. Here are some tips to help you get started.
1. Make meal and snack planning a priority – Just like you would make time to squeeze in a movie with friends, set aside time to plan your week’s meals and snacks. Write it in on your schedule and treat it as any other important task on your to-do list. Plan to include lean protein, grains, and some fat at each meal. From here you can create your weekly grocery list and go into shopping with a plan that will ease stress and likely save money.
2. Take advantage of Tupperware – Save room in both the refrigerator and freezer for leftovers. Throwing away extra food after spending time preparing it not only wastes money, but it also creates more work for yourself. Use individual containers to have pre-portioned meals ready for lunch at work or tomorrow night’s dinner. Another great alternative to this idea is batch cooking, or ‘planned extras.’ Rather than cooking 1 single meal, cook several servings, and use them throughout the week for meals or store in the freezer for a few weeks down the road.
3. Keep snacks on-hand – Instead of reaching for the vending machine for your afternoon snack, have options ready for you wherever you are. Nuts, granola bars, whole grain crackers or popcorn, dry roasted edamame and some fruits and vegetables are portable and easy to grab when you’re short on time. Store non-perishable items in your desk drawer, purse, gym bag or car. This will also help you from becoming over-hungry, and in turn, reduce risk for overeating later on.
4. Have a plan ‘B’ – Life happens. You may get home later from work than anticipated, have an unexpected event to attend, or you may simply not feel like making the chicken rigatoni dish you had planned. ITS OK! Backup meals and options can relieve the stress of these situations. Identify a frozen meal that has a combination of protein, carbohydrates, and fats and a low-to-moderate sodium level. Aim for entrees between 300 and 500 calories, no more than 3g of saturated fat, and no more than 700mg of sodium. Amy’s Kitchen, Kashi, and HealthyChoice have many varieties that fit this nutrition profile. If frozen meals aren’t your thing, research the menu at nearby sit-down or fast food restaurants. Many restaurants now carry healthy options. Look for symbols listed on the menu that indicate these items.
This easy side dish is perfect for the summer months and makes enough for several people and/or meals. Pair it with a protein and you got yourself a meal!
Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus, Spinach, and Feta
Yield: Serves 4
• 1 cup orzo
• Salt-about 1/2 tsp. for boiling water
• 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon olive oil
• 8 asparagus spears, cut into 1 inch pieces
• 1 cup packed fresh spinach
• Juice of 1 large lemon
• 1/3 cup feta cheese
• Salt and pepper, to taste
1. In a medium sauce pan, bring 4 cups of water to boil. Add the salt. Stir in orzo. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain orzo and set aside.
2. In a small sauce pan, saute garlic in olive oil. Add in asparagus pieces. Saute for 3-4 minutes. Stir in spinach. Cook until asparagus is tender and the spinach shrinks down.
3. Put the orzo in a medium bowl and add in the vegetables. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the orzo and vegetables. Stir. Season with salt and pepper. Taste-add more lemon juice if you wish. The lemon I used was huge, so I only needed to use one lemon. If you need more juice, go ahead.
4. Sprinkle feta cheese over the top of the salad. Serve warm. (I also liked the salad cold.)
This delicious recipe brought to you by Two Peas & Their Pod