The Quickest Ways to Healthy Eating
Can Convenience Food Be Considered Healthy Eating?
Convenience food that is healthy – can it be true? Yes! One of the top barriers to healthy eating – lack of time. I get it. There is a solution! It will require you to grocery shop– but, whether you shop for your own groceries or online order, your healthy eating goal just got easier. Here’s what you need to know.
Choose Ready to Eat or Minimal Prep Items For Healthy Eating
- On the go proteins: Canned/packaged tuna or chicken, no salt added canned beans, packaged tofu, nut butters (bulk or individual), nut mixes, hard boiled eggs
- Grains/starches: pre-cooked quinoa/brown rice, baking potatoes/sweet potatoes, high fiber and whole grain tortillas or bread
- Vegetables: spiraled veggies (fresh or frozen), frozen veggie packs (single variety, riced vegetables and mixes), pre-chopped fresh veggies, salad kits
Don’t Forget to Check The Nutrition Labels
- Sodium may be added to items to improve shelf stability and flavor. Look for whole foods without added sauces.
- Check the ingredient list and choose items without added sugars and additives.
- Shop sales! Stock up on fresh produce when it is on sale, chop and freeze in food saver bags.
Get Cooking – Batch Cooking That Is
- Make a list of your family’s favorite recipes and see how you can batch cook them ahead of time.
- Batch cook meat – whole cuts, ground or diced. Plan to use a few servings for the week, and then freeze in single meal portions.
- Try it! Cook and shred chicken breasts in the crockpot. Think shredded chicken taco bowls one night, BBQ chicken wraps another and round out the week with chicken salads. All from the same batch of chicken.
- Prepare rice or quinoa, per directions, in large batches and freeze individual portions in airtight freezer bags.
- Chop and portion raw vegetables with a recipe in mind. Keep in airtight freezer bags to use later. Sliced onions and peppers work great for crockpot fajitas, while broccoli, cauliflower and carrots are great for stir fry.
Quick Meal Assembly Ideas
- Slow cooker fajita bowl: Freeze raw chicken, diced onion and peppers with seasoning in food saver bag. Transfer frozen food to slow cooker for 6-8 hours on low. Serve with high fiber tortillas.
- Veggie bowl: Chop broccoli and carrots into bite sized pieces. Sauté in olive oil with ground garlic and ginger or seasoning of choice. Serve with pre-cooked brown rice.
- Easy potato side: Poke holes into a washed whole sweet or baking potato and microwave for 5-7 minutes. Pair with tuna or chicken packet and individual frozen vegetable variety.
Planning ahead is the ultimate convenience tool. Give it a try. Have a meal plan and start small. You’ll be surprised how easy it can be. Plus you’ll have more time for family, physical activity or relaxing.
Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE is a clinical dietitian at CHI Health, working in Oncology and Functional nutrition. Ellen helps patients improve nutrition habits during cancer treatment and beyond. She is a group fitness instructor at the CHI Health Lakeside Wellness Center and enjoys helping people of all fitness abilities be active. Ellen is passionate about helping patients improve their lives through nutrition, activity and stress management.