Eating Healthy With a Busy Schedule
School has started and the holidays are just around the corner. This time of year can be a challenge for those balancing a busy schedule with a healthy lifestyle. Managing stress, choosing foods high in nutrients, and staying active all play a vital role in your overall wellness.
In order to make the most out of your time, it helps to start with a plan. The ideas discussed below can help you brainstorm what would work best according to your preferences and schedule. Once a plan is in place, take one day per week to purchase and prep the food. This can help minimize the temptation to skip meals or choose less healthy options.
Start your day off strong with a well balanced breakfast. An example of this would be a breakfast that has a combination of whole grains, fruits and/or vegetables, and protein. “Grab and go” items can help to make this possible. Some quick and healthy sources of protein include a hard boiled egg, nuts, seeds, string cheese, or fat free milk. Some simple whole grains ideas include whole grain toast, a bran muffin, or hearty overnight oats. Grab a piece of fruit such as an apple or banana to complete your meal!
Plan and prep a healthy lunch. One way to do this is to purposely make enough food at dinner time to have leftovers. These meals can be reheated and enjoyed the next day for lunch. This can also help to minimize food waste and save money! Splitting up and repackaging larger items into single serve containers can also help save time and increase convenience in the long run. Place vegetables, such as baby carrots, in snack sized plastic bags and divide a large container of hummus into smaller individual containers. Or, divide a bag of almonds up to avoid the temptation to eat more than one serving. The goal should be that healthy items can be packed before work or school with very little effort.
Relax and enjoy a nutritious dinner with the family. Plan dinner for the week ahead. This can be done in the form of a traditional shopping list written out on paper. Or, if you prefer using the latest technology, it can be done through different apps available on your phone. Some apps can help in finding the best deals, sharing the list with other family members, or even finding recipes that use similar ingredients to minimize food waste. Plan meals according to the time you have available in the evenings. If Tuesday’s you only have 10 minutes to prepare a meal, choose something that can be made in that time. Quick, healthy meals ideas include tuna melts, whole grain flat bread pizza, veggie wraps on whole grain tortillas, or even leftovers.
Try to involve all members of the family! Sharing appropriate cooking duties with children helps them to develop valuable life skills. Also, follow the N.C. Cooperative Extension’s Instagram for Richmond and Moore County Nutrition to stay up to date on local events and nutrition tips, by following “MooreRichNutrition”.
The Richmond County Cooperative Extension’s goal is to provide the residents of the community with research-based knowledge. For more information on food safety, wellness, and nutrition please contact the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, Alyssa Anderson, MS, RDN, LDN at 910-997-8255.