It’s 8 a.m. You slept through your alarm and are now running out the door to make your morning meeting, grabbing a pre-packaged granola bar as you go. Your morning meetings run long, so you DoorDash a quick lunch (if you remember to eat at all) and scarf it down before your next appointment. A few hours later, your kids are demanding dinner, and you internally debate the merits of frozen pizza versus take-out.
If this sounds all-too familiar, you’re not alone. Busy seasons come and go, and when you’re in the midst of one, healthy eating often takes a back seat. While there’s nothing wrong with living on frozen pizza for the short-term, it doesn’t have to be that way. Implementing small changes here and there can add up to a big difference in your daily diet. Here, we’re sharing our best tips for eating healthier with a jam-packed schedule.
1. Prep breakfast the night before.
If you’re rushing to get out the door every morning, the best gift you can give yourself is a prepped-and-ready healthy breakfast. Taking just a few minutes of your evening to put together a morning meal (overnight oats, egg muffins, and breakfast sandwiches are all great options) will ensure you start your day off on the right foot.
2. Fall back on frozen produce.
Getting the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables can be a challenge on normal days, let alone hectic days. Don’t make it harder on yourself by only choosing fresh produce, which can take time to wash, prep, and store. Frozen fruits and veggies can be just as much, if not more, nutrient-dense since they are usually picked at peak ripeness. Top your oatmeal with frozen berries, add frozen avocado to your smoothie, and jazz up your stir-fry with frozen veggies.
3. Set yourself up for success with snacks.
When that 3 p.m. slump inevitably rolls around, you want to be armed with an arsenal of healthy snacks; otherwise, you can fall prey to the vending machine or a handful of your kids’ favorite sugary cereal. Look for snacks that have some combination of carbs, protein, and healthy fats to help keep you full until dinnertime. Homemade trail mix, hummus and veggies, and string cheese and an apple all do the trick.
4. Order healthier options when eating out.
Some busy people tend to rely on restaurants to keep them fed over the course of the week; however, restaurants are notorious for packing sugar, salt, and less-than-healthy oils into the food they serve. When eating out, look at the menu ahead of time and choose items that are raw, grilled, steamed, baked, or broiled. If the portion size is huge, eat half of the meal and save the other half for another day.
5. Try out grocery delivery services.
Do you ever feel like you don’t have the time to make a grocery store run? On those crazy weeks when you’re doing your best just to survive, consider looking into grocery delivery or pickup options. It might cost a little extra than your typical grocery bill, but the benefits you’ll reap from a well-stocked refrigerator are worth it.
6. Let your kitchen work for you.
Certain tools and appliances in your kitchen are there to make meal prep more streamlined and stress-free, so take advantage of them! A smoothie filled with healthy fruits, veggies, seeds, and yogurt comes together in a flash in your blender, while slow cookers and Instant Pots can help you get a delicious family meal on the table within minutes of walking through the front door.
7. Stay hydrated.
When you’re out and about, it can be really easy to forget to drink enough water – yet water is so important, keeping all of the systems in your body functioning properly. Fortunately, water doesn’t take any prep time, so all you need is a reusable water bottle to carry around with you throughout the day.
8. Don’t overcomplicate it.
Finally, the best advice we can offer is to keep it simple. It’s a common trap to view “healthy eating” as fancy salads or gourmet meals prepared with obscure ingredients – making it an unobtainable goal for those of us with busy schedules. A peanut butter sandwich on whole-wheat bread paired with yogurt and fruit takes two minutes to throw together while checking all of the boxes for a healthy, filling meal.