Summer is in its prime, and most people have a busy schedule to show for it! Summer’s heat is a great time to reach for healthy foods like fresh fruits & veggies, grilled meats and salads. And while these foods are appealing, they often get bypassed because of one factor: time. Shopping, washing, chopping, and the amount of time it takes to eat fresh foods can be daunting when we feel the pressure to rush from work to an event and then back home. We get home at 7 PM, only to collapse into an exhausted heap! Prepare food? Who has the energy??
Honestly, we’ve all been there. And at one time or another, all of us have had a drive-thru moment or eaten a bowl of cornflakes for supper. More often than not, it is less about cravings and more about convenience. So today I want to give you a few quick pointers to keep you (and your family) on track! As a bonus, eating healthfully will give you added energy to power through all of that extra yard work and outside play time.
- Grill in bulk. I just started doing this for the first time this Summer, and I can’t believe I haven’t done it before now. This weekend, when you or your hubby fire up the grill to make some burgers, why not throw on a package of 4-6 chicken breasts too? (Or whatever meat variety appeals to you.) That way you have grilled chicken on hand to toss over salads or heat up for lunch during the week! This is going to save you money in the long run too. It takes about 20 minutes and you have lunch for the week!
- Prep your produce before it hits the fridge. I have discovered that this move is key for me. Many areas have Bountiful Baskets program available to help save money on produce. (See www.bountifulbaskets.org to check out what’s in your area.) When we first started participating in this program, most of our produce got eaten, but some would spoil. Once I started washing, chopping, and organizing our fruits & veggies before storing them, the spoilage came to a halt! I realize that this may sound daunting at first, but you can make it a family game! With two or three working in the kitchen, it should take you less than an hour each weekend. Everyone in the family is more likely to munch on fresh stuff if it is on-hand and ready-to-eat. It can make a quick snack for a whiny toddler or a simple side for a meal. If a few days pass by and it isn’t getting eaten, throw it in the freezer to add to smoothies for breakfast!
- Always have trail mix on hand. No, I don’t mean the kind you buy in a Great Value bag that is laden with peanuts and M&M’s. (Sorry!) A can of almonds works well too, but that can get boring after a while. We go down to the local health food store and pick out our favorite nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. Then we mix them all together and store them in a Tupperware. One is in the cupboard for snacking at home, and the other is in the vehicle for those moments when you are so hungry that those golden arches start beckoning your name.
- Have a quality protein powder in your home. (See my previous post, The World of Protein Powders to determine the best one for you.) Ready-made protein means that breakfast is only minutes away! Fruit, protein, almond/coconut milk, and a minute in the blender! This can also make a great late supper if you were out late and you don’t want to eat a heavy meal right before bed.
- Have a go-to “fast food” meal with your husband. It can be whatever works for you, as long as it is healthy. Then when the argument starts about whose responsibility it is to cook and what’s for supper, you can just nod and agree it’s a “fast food” night. Some good choices are nitrate-free brats grilled on a Foreman grill and a bag of frozen veggies, taco salads, tuna or chicken salad in a romaine lettuce leaf or on cucumber slices, or, my personal favorite, the rotisserie chicken, a bag of baby carrots, and a sweet potato nuked in the microwave. Are these meals ideal? Maybe not for every night of the week, but they sure beat Taco Bell! And like I said, having this kind of a back-up plan can prevent arguments too. 😉
- Banana Ice Cream. Have you heard of it? If not, you should! Okay. So supper is over, everyone is settling in for some reading/TV time/family board games, and it hits! The summertime ice cream craving. What do you do? You have eaten so healthfully all day long! You don’t want to destroy it now by hitting the Dairy Queen drive thru! Enter banana ice cream.
[Here is what you do: 1.Peel bananas. 2. Freeze bananas. (At least 12 hours is best, but they will keep up to a month or more.) 3. Throw bananas in your electric device of choice. Last Summer we used a YoNana machine, available on www.amazon.com for less than $40. This year we have upgraded to a Vitamix blender. (After some financial planning.) But even a good old Oster will do! The bananas need a small amount—think 2 tbsp or so—of almond milk, coconut milk, or heavy cream to whip up into a soft-serve like consistency. You can make whatever type of ice cream appeals to you. We have added cocoa powder, avocado, peanut butter, berries, nuts, chocolate chips, or Paleo caramel sauce to ours before. The sky is the limit! Oh, and bananas are like, $.60 a pound.]
There you have it! Six tricks to make your summertime diet easier and healthier!
Yours in Health,