Healthy foods can be convenient foods

You can still make wise and healthy eating options when you're short on time.

Those quick meals we pick up for lunch or dinner definitely save time, but what about the calorie and nutritional content of the foods?

Winter is here and how we love those wonderful comfort foods! It is always enjoyable to go out to the restaurants that supply the bread basket filled with warm fresh made bread before your meal. Then have the hearty meal such as cream soups, casseroles filled with an overabundance of cheese, and stews rich in fatty meats. Unfortunately, the calories, sodium content, and fat grams add up quickly when we eat these foods. Certainly, occasionally, they make an enjoyable meal, but too often we will order foods that have too much hidden fat, sodium and calories.

When we look at our budgets, one can see a great deal of our budget goes to eating out. If you eat many meals that are not made with our own two hands, chances are you order out too often. Well, you are like most people in the United States: but this trend adds to gaining weight and many health challenges in children and adults.

When we purchase fast food or chain restaurant foods, we often trade convenience for calories, fats and sodium. Also, the portion size is much larger than what we need or would serve at home. As a result of frequently choosing fast food, we are not promoting overall health.

For those that would like to shed a few pounds

Eat breakfast at home or pack it up to go. Start with one meal at a time. Since breakfast is very important to your overall health start with it. If you have to eat on the run, take a piece of whole grain toast or rice crackers and put peanut butter on them. Add a banana and now you have three different food groups to begin the day. If you have frantic mornings, try planning the night before and set out the dry ingredients such as cereal or bread. Set the table so you aren’t fumbling throughout the cupboard early in the morning.

Look forward to a healthy lunch

Lunch is not enjoyable if you are eating too fast or just eat cookies. Therefore, pack something that is easy and you will feel more satisfied. You can make a wrap by packaging up the ingredients the night before such as vegetables in a baggie, meat in another one. Then put your wrap or sandwich together. Use travel containers for fruit, cheese, or any other healthy alternative.  

Think to plan your dinner

Assemble fresh foods the night before and leave in the refrigerator. At dinner time, it will be easy and simple to cook. Make a wonderful healthy salad or scramble eggs with lots of vegetables. Go lightly with the salt and fats. Instead of heavy dressings, try olive oil and vinegars. Create and use your imagination to make a meal appealing.

Create a shopping list with a meal plan

Try new foods and think about color. The more color you have in fruits and vegetables the more nutrients you will have.

Instead of going out to lunch three days a week, try one day a week.

You may enjoy feeling better and having more energy from eating healthier choices. Another bonus to cutting back on eating out, is more money in your wallet at the end of the week!

For more tips, visit the Michigan State University Extension website.

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