It can be challenging to eat healthy on a regular basis, especially when you’re on the go, in a rush, or traveling for work.
Grabbing a quick slice of pizza, a fatty patty between two buns, or gorging on a candy bar to stave off hunger might be appealing when you’re pressed for time; however, if you’re looking to bring healthier options into your day without completely depleting your wallet, here are three tips to do so.
Embrace simple bulk cooking and preparation
Whether it’s a one-dish wonder or something you eat just once a month, think like a baker when preparing meals. Cookies and other desserts are made in batches. Why not take this high-volume approach to making a few quick and easy meals?
It’s a numbers game when it comes to eating healthy for less. Making a bunch of items in bulk maximizes savings and allows you to be time-efficient when making simple meals. Block out an hour or so on a weekend to cook a bunch of items all at once. Cook a chicken, pop an easy-to-make meal in the crock pot, or prepare a bunch of sandwiches together. If you can enlist the help of family to divide and conquer making meals for the week, it will save you that much more time.
Busy mom and winner of Food Network’s Rewrapped Show, Laura Fuentes runs a company called Momables.com, where she makes healthy eating a lifestyle for her family. While sharing recipes and teaching others how to make her scrumptious creations, she practices what she preaches by still managing to feed her whole family healthy meals.
If you’re pressed for time, she explains, “Skillet meals, pasta salads, and just about anything in a crockpot are quick and easy to prepare.” Fuentes also points out that hard boiled eggs are a great make-ahead item. “It’s a high protein snack, a meal builder, and very portable.’
If you are able to make quinoa at home, you can easily add it to your own salad. Fuentes even sends her kids to school with her very own lunch box quinoa salad.
Make eating healthy food convenient
Many of us may not be salivating to eat a salad. But stores like Trader Joe’s might change how you view what’s tasty by including some of their ready-made products into your diet.
Two of their delicious choices contain the protein-packed grain quinoa. The USDA recommends at least half of the grains we consume should be whole grains. Two of my favorite salads both contain this super food for just under $4.
For 430 calories, the Roasted Butternut Squash, Red Quinoa and Wheat Berry Salad is a tasty mix of those three ingredients plus cranberries, arugula, goat cheese and more that make a great combination of nutritious flavors.
For 370 calories, the Super Spinach Salad contains quinoa, carrots, cranberries, chick peas, edamame, pumpkin seeds and surprise, spinach, in a carrot ginger miso dressing that comes together for affordable lunch time goodness.
I purchase 3 different salads on a Sunday. This way I know I’m set for lunch for the next few days. It puts decision making on auto pilot and I don’t have to prep or chop anything and then hope that I can find the perfect lunch container and matching lid. The store-bought salad fits nicely in my lunch bag while still leaving room for an ice pack and snacks. I can get ready quickly in the morning without scrambling to come up with new ideas for what to eat.
A little planning and organization goes a long way for your wallet
Sometimes the secret to setting yourself up for healthy eating success is inside of your fridge. Organization is key when it comes to most things and the same is true for how you store items in your refrigerator. Keeping contents fresher longer can save you money. Americans throw out a large amount of expired food at roughly over $2,000 a year.
If you’re looking to waste less food, I practice the Receipt Reference Technique. I keep my receipt on the fridge or close by and use it as an informal inventory list to quickly reference what’s inside. It helps me to remember when I purchased items by referencing the date on the receipt so I can plot out what I will eat. For example, I make it a priority to eat all of my fresh produce before it expires. It helps me plan what to eat earlier in the week to avoid throwing food in the trash and losing money.
In an effort to maximize freshness, professional organizer Alejandra Costello advises putting milk, eggs and yogurt towards the back of the fridge where it is colder. Space can be at a premium when storing large quantities of food cooked in bulk such as hardboiled eggs. In her video, Fridge Organization: How to Organize the Refrigerator, Costello stores hardboiled eggs right back in the carton and is sure to label them for easy access.
When traveling in airports, if you have a few minutes to spare, Beverly Harzog, consumer credit expert and author of The Debt Escape Plan, believes “it’s a good idea to get online before you travel and look at food options in the airports where you’ll be. That way, if you end up with a 5-hour delay, you’ll know where the best deals are for a quick bite to eat. And once you’ve eaten, it’s best to leave the restaurant so you aren’t tempted to have several glasses of chardonnay while you wait for your flight.”
She also suggests packing protein bars and bags of nuts in your carry-on bag. Harzog does this regularly and it holds her back from buying expensive candy bars, which are her weakness when she lets herself get too hungry.
Using these tips consistently can allow you to eat healthier for less. You may find the whole process unexpectedly enjoyable while redefining your food options. A little bit of time spent purchasing or preparing healthy food choices can stretch your budget and keep you satiated during the week.