Eating healthy on short time

Don’t let a packed schedule keep you from eating healthy.

As spring sets into full swing, my family’s schedule gets busy. A busy schedule means that we’re more physically active, but we need to be eating well too. With the increase in physical activity, I don’t want to counteract the positive with a negative, so I try to make sure the food we’re eating is healthy. It’s easy to pick up pizza or hit the drive-thru, but those time savers won’t put the right fuel into my body or into my kids’.

Here’s a list of Michigan State University Extension tips to help keep meals healthy and quick.

  • Plan – When I don’t plan, that’s when I fall back on bad habits. Plan meals that fit with your schedule. If you know you’ll only have five minutes to prepare a meal, more planning needs to done in advance. Meals that you want to linger on should be saved for evenings when there’s time to relax.
  • Prepare – Prep items to make meal preparation easier and quicker.
    • Double batches of meat. I always forget to defrost meat when I don’t plan. When I make chicken or ground beef, I cook extra and put it in the freezer. Instead of losing time defrosting and cooking raw meat, I defrost cooked meat that’s ready to go.
    • Wash and slice vegetables so they’re ready to grab as snacks or to add to a salad or main dish.
  • In-bulk – Prepare meals in bulk amounts. Just like doubling batches of meat, double batches of soup, stews or chili that can be frozen.
  • Build – Build meals around items you can purchase that are already prepared.
    • A rotisserie chicken is quick to grab at the store if a main dish meat is needed.
    • Canned protein like tuna fish can be used to make tuna melts. Salmon can be made into patties. Canned beans can be used to turn a salad into a main dish.
    • Prewashed salad greens or frozen fruits and vegetables can make it easier to put together a meal.
  • Cook it slow– Use your slow cooker to have healthy, hearty meals.

Take time this spring to sort your freezer, refrigerator and pantry to make note of what you have. Keeping a well-stocked reserve is important to healthy, quick meals. If you have everything you need to make a meal, you’re less likely to pick up the phone to order take-out. Using all of the above tips or just one should help to make preparing healthy meals a bit easier.

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