One of the biggest culprits for my bad eating habits comes from being too busy to cook something. I will throw in a frozen meal or pizza or just eat out. None of which are ways to eat healthy. Rather, they are the reason I will start to gain weight if I do it too often.
In an effort to eat healthy, I changed my weekly habits to set myself up with food options for my busy schedule. These healthy habits are the only way I’ve been able to maintain a consistent weight throughout the 10 years since high school (Nobody wants to go to their reunion as the person that changed the most). If you think you’re too busy to eat healthy, try adding these 5 habits to your weekly routine.
How to Eat Healthy with a Busy Schedule:
1. Shop Your Cupboards
We are a throw-away society. Things are too easy to come by and, more times than not, we purchase more than we need. It’s why I end up throwing away 20% of my fruits and veggies before I have time to eat them.
In an effort to conserve both my money and my food waste, I’ve learned to shop my cupboards. I will meal plan using items that I have on hand to limit how much groceries I purchase, and it also forces me to have a meal plan, BEFORE going to the store. Try not to overbuy because more food means more things to put in your belly.
2. Layout a Menu
In our household, we plan 3 dinners to make each week. The other days, we plan to eat the leftovers. By meal planning, we not only stick to a healthier menu, but we’re less likely to go out for dinner that isn’t healthy.
When you sit down to make a menu, you need to look at your schedule for the week to see the days you’re going to be home and when you have time to cook. Make sure to include all your meals, not just dinner. For me, I like things quick and I like to eat many times a day. So when I menu plan it looks something like this:
- Breakfast: Over-night oats, hard boiled eggs, or a smoothie
- Lunch: Wrap made with turkey or tuna/chicken salad
- Snacks: Cheesesticks, apples, and nuts (Check out my favorite easy, healthy snacks to bring to work.)
- Dinner: High in protein and veggies, lower in carbs and fat
I like to make large meals that I can eat for leftovers later in the week or bring for lunch. I also like to make things in the Crockpot when I don’t have a lot of time at night to cook.
3. Avoid Pre-Packaged Meals
When I started my first “real” job that wasn’t at a restaurant, I decided to grocery shop through buying frozen meals to eat EVERY DAY! In small doses, these aren’t bad, but when you eat something packaged daily, you’re adding unnecessary additives and sodium. This can lead to bloating and overall weight gain that can be harder to lose later (Trust me, I learned this the hard way).
Check the labels of everything you’re buying. I try to live with the motto “if I don’t know what it is, it must not be food”. Sometimes this means, I will buy the more caloric option because it’s made with real ingredients. Checking labels will teach you to be more mindful of things that you are putting in your body.
4. Make Things Ahead of Time
I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I get home from work I am ravenous (Like I’m going to eat my arm if I don’t get food in me now ravenous). My boyfriend likes to call this being “hangry”. This is why we keep many snacks around the house to keep me patient while dinner cooks.
Previously when I lived alone, and didn’t have someone to keep me from shoving the first thing I saw in my mouth, I would prepare food ahead of time. Sometimes that meant having snacks, like carrots & hummus or cottage cheese, to eat while I cooked. Or I would have dinner ready when I got home, either by cooking the day before or in the slow-cooker during the day. However it will work for you, I recommend doing it. No one wants to be hangry. Apparently it “isn’t attractive”.
5. Cheat Days are Good, But Try to Limit Eating Out
I’ve never been a fan of restrictive diets. Mainly, because I love ice cream and no one EVER says to eat the ice cream. But also because restricting yourself from eating something (Especially something you love) will only make you obsess over it and end up overeating when you finally DO get to eat the thing.
So I’m here to tell you, eat the dang ice cream– Or whatever it is you’re craving. Just in small doses and not the whole pint. I suggest setting aside one or two days a week to go to dinner/drinks with friends or to splurge on that craving that you love. Your waistline and your wallet will thank you.
When you have a plan, it’s easy to eat healthy. I also find it helpful to journal your food to see what kind of food you’re eating. My Fitness Pal is my go-to app to keep track of my food, including amount of fat, sugar, protein, carbs, etc. I’m putting in my body. You don’t have to diet to maintain a healthy weight. You just need to have a plan and be mindful.
*Note: If you read my disclaimer, I am not an expert. Please do your research and talk to a health adviser before making any life changes.