Eating Healthy When Life Is Crazy Busy
“We live in a crazy fast world,” said Kristin Sousek, Hy-Vee dietitian, “and at first glance, making and eating healthy meals after work and school can seem overwhelming.”
You may also lack confidence in your cooking skills, unsure if you can produce a meal impressive enough for Instagram or Pinterest.
But getting over the initial “overwhelming hump” is worth it, and “you don’t have to be a culinary wizard to get started,” said Sousek.
Not only does eating healthy help prevent excess weight gain and diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer, eating healthy together as a family offers additional life skills. “Families who actually prepare and eat together tend to be more involved. Children do better in school and make better choices. Values are realized,” said Sousek.
So, if the local fast food joint knows your order by heart, look into these tips to start eating healthy meals at home during the week:
Keep it simple.
You’ve seen those recipes with an ingredient list a half-mile long, and a set of complicated directions two miles long — you don’t need to go there in order for your family to eat well! “For example, pick up a rotisserie chicken, and combine with mixed frozen vegetables, and there you have an easy stir-fry,” Sousek offered. “Fresh produce is great, but frozen or low-sodium canned vegetables are just fine when time is of the essence.”
Meal prep, prep, prep!
This just might be your secret to making yummy meals for the week. Spend a few hours on the weekend chopping vegetables and measuring cupfuls into freezer bags. Store them in the fridge (use within one week) or freezer (use within two to three weeks), and they will be an easy grab for Wednesday tacos or next week’s chili.
“A typical prepared hotdish can last two to three weeks in the freezer,” said Sousek. “However, in terms of food safety, do not move the hotdish from straight out of the oven into the freezer; the meal must be fully cooled before placing into the freezer.” Also, reheat to 165 degrees Fahrenheit or greater when it’s finally time to eat the dish.
Get the kids involved.
Allow younger children to choose fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, and teenagers to help chop and measure food during the meal-prep process. It gives kids a sense of pride to see the brown rice they measured on everyone’s plates on Tuesday night.
Invest in a crockpot.
Throw ingredients together, such as a roast and pre-cut veggies, into the crockpot in the morning and a hot meal will be waiting for you and your family after a long day.
Talk to the experts.
Dietitians through Hy-Vee and Avera are available and eager to set you on a path to success. “Call a Hy-Vee dietitian and take a personal tour of the store,” suggested Sousek. “By focusing on what your family already enjoys eating, we will point out simple ways to make recipes healthier, or just simple healthy recipes in general.”
Of course, it’s OK to bring home a hot pizza or Chinese cuisine every once in a while for the family. The occasional takeout is then a treat!
“Remember, it’s never the exception that will hurt you,” said Sousek, “it’s the rule.”
For more tips and recipes, check out the AveraNow recipe/prep booklet.