Thursday, January 2, 2014

Trying to eat HEALTHY? ---> It starts with MEAL PREP

Eating HEALTHY is kind of hard these days. Everyone has plenty of advice on what you SHOULD AVOID ---> but I don't find those lists helpful. Actually, those lists just make me crave those foods more!  Am I alone?

With 17 fast food restaurants between my house and the grocery store, it is easy to make "just swing through". With cold weather, rain, tired kids and a hungry is EASY to order delivery. But those choices aren't in line with my goals, health wise OR financially!

So, I've picked up a few FOOD PREP tips to help me get dinner on the table in a jiffy. I know we all have busy lives, so the ability to put dinner from the fridge to the table in 15-20 minutes with the peace of mind of serving a fresh and healthy meal to your family is seriously irreplaceable.

Step #1:
   Write out your meals.

Plan your dinners, leave room for leftovers (lets not waste!). Write out sides, too -- so you don't forget anything and no one goes hungry!

Step #2
   Organize your shopping list.

This has nothing to do with being healthy, but I shop with two toddlers and I can tell you --> it does WONDERS for my efficiency. Every store is a little different, but I order mine by the order of departments: Deli/bakery, produce, meat, dairy, frozen, packaged/other.

Step #3
   Shop day = Chop Day

This will add an extra 30 minutes to your shopping trip. That may sound like a lot -- but it is prep for the WHOLE WEEK, so it is worth it!  Wash,chop or peel veggies you'll serve as sides, such as broccoli, green beans, carrots, cabbage, etc. If you plan to serve them fresh, just package them in tupperware and keep them refrigerated! If you'd like to serve them steamed, speed that process up by steaming them 1/2 way and then storing them!

Step #4
   Prep your meats

Again, this will add a little extra time to your shopping trip but it is so worth it! Just set aside this time on your shopping day, or make it a family event! Everyone can help wash, chop and put away!

Marinate meats, brown them or roast them, so all you have to do is warm them up! I love doing this with chicken, because I can add it to some spinach for a quick salad, or warm it up and serve it as a main dish with veggies.

Step #5
   Plan for snacks

Hunger strikes, and you eat the whole box of Little Debbies. I can't be the only one guilty of this. But, it was what was AVAILABLE and, I was hungry! It was an emergency. AVOID this by hard boiling eggs, cutting celery or carrots for hummus, and cut fruit for quick snacking.

"If you don't plan, you plan to fail".  Healthy eating is an area all of us struggle in, so just take a little extra time ONE day a week to see what it does. It may not get you out of EVERY temptation, but if it changes even 1/2 of what you snack on or eat for dinner, that is PROGRESS you can be proud of!