Eating healthy always matters. We must eat to live and what we eat affects every cell of our body. Many of us may not have the energy to dedicate to an elaborate eating plan right now. With more people eating at home, I want to give you the tips and suggestions to maintain healthy living.
TAKE INVENTORY OF YOUR PANTRY
Know what you have on hand. Check dates and move items that need to be used soon to the front of the shelves, so you remember them when meal planning. Toss anything that has a real “expires on” date; this is a measure of food safety.
“Best by” and “use by” dates are measures of quality and are usually safe to eat after the date (but still watch for mold or strange smells). Place any healthy snacks on the shelves at eye level.
PLAN HEALTHY MEALS AROUND WHAT YOU HAVE
Doing this helps to save trips to the store and time spent shopping. It also helps to keep things simple because you don’t have to come up with full meals. Have 7 cans of beans you found in the back of the pantry?
These can be used in chili, tacos or quesadillas, grain bowls, or as part of the filling for stuffed peppers. Found a can of pumpkin from last Thanksgiving? Add it to that chili (trust me) or into some oatmeal.
MAKE GROCERY LISTS BASED ON HEALTHY EATING
(Read: make them more exciting! And balanced, of course).
If you find a variety of starches in the pantry, add veggies to your list, and meat if you eat it. Add cheese to dishes for a punch of flavor and some saltiness. Vinegars, a squeeze of citrus, or just the citrus zest, go a long way to elevate a meal without much effort or cost.
KEEP VEGGIES AND FRUITS FRONT AND CENTER
Choose items that keep well, like carrots, kale, cabbage, onions, beets, spaghetti squash, potatoes/sweet potatoes, apples, and oranges. Choose frozen and canned when you can find them; remember to drain and rinse the canned items to reduce the salt content.
Don’t shy away from fresh produce if that’s what’s available. They’re easier to work with than you may think, and you’ll probably save some money too. Try to store these items where you will see them easily and be reminded to use them.
VIEW MEAL PREP AND COOKING AS A FUN ACTIVITY
Try not to think about meal prep as just another thing on the to-do list. Many of us suddenly have more time on our hands and preparing a satisfying meal can bring a sense of accomplishment. Use it as a solo activity to relax and be creative or give others small tasks to help and make it a fun way to spend time as a family.
COOK DOUBLE BATCHES
If you’re taking the time to cook, make extra. When you get to the day of the week when you just can’t think up another dish or you have other things that need your attention, you’ve got leftovers you can feel good about eating. You can also do this with just one item.
If you bake a full pan of chicken, you can build other meals for that week around the extra; you’ll already be halfway to an easy meal. Anything that won’t be eaten in 5-7 days should go into the freezer.
MAINTAIN NORMAL EATING SCHEDULE
Even if your routine has changed, try to eat at your regular times. Set reminders to stop work or homeschooling if you need to. This helps us avoid mindless snacking and feeling like we are not satisfied.
It’s easy to slack off on our hydration when we’re not in our usual routine. Find your reusable bottle and determine how much it holds. If you have a 16-ounce bottle, the average adult needs 4 bottles, minimum. Put at least 4 rubber bands on the bottle and take one off each time you finish a bottle before refilling.
This serves as a good visual reminder to keep drinking and helps you to keep track. Alternatively, you can try water tracking apps with reminders to drink, like Waterlogged or Plant Nanny.
HAVE SOME FUN!
Use this time to try out that new recipe you’ve had earmarked for “when I have the time”, if you can get the ingredients. Even if you can’t, get creative and use what you have. Try a new flavor profile or make that favorite dish you haven’t had in a while. A healthy diet can help keep you mentally and physically in shape.
If you need more ideas or personalized options, our offices are now offering virtual nutrition visits. Give us a call to schedule!