By Jodi Holland, RD
What does a typical week look like for you? It likely includes work or school and perhaps taking care of a home or family. Maybe it includes regular activity that boosts your mood and heart rate. But does it include nutrient-rich meals and snacks that fit your budget and align with your wellness goals? Our current lifestyles and demands do not always leave a lot of time to get a healthy supper on the table. Canadians currently invest about 38 minutes on a week night to prepare their dinner meal. But what if I could share one tip that can save you time during your rushed week, plus guarantee a healthier intake?
In my dietitian toolbox of healthy living tools, food prep is by far my one guarantee to help you eat better. An easy place to start is by simply identifying the time of day where eating healthy is most troublesome for you. Is breakfast often a no-go? Do you know the servers’ names at the restaurants near your work, as you often don’t bring a lunch? Or maybe it’s not including vegetables at your supper meal because you’re just too tired to prepare one more thing.
I get it. But when you set yourself up for success by planning the what, where, why, when and how of that meal or snack, the healthy choice becomes the easy choice.
Check out my favourite easy meal and snack ideas to prep in advance to combat your trouble times.
- Breakfast: Preparing this the night before ensures a good start tomorrow. My current favourite is Overnight Oats. There are so many different versions to satisfy any palate.
- Snacks: Making nutritious and satisfying snacks for my kids is a priority. On the weekend I’ll often make this Quinoa Banana Bread for a snack at school and these energy balls to help satisfy the afterschool ‘hungries’. Both pair nicely with whatever fruit you have on hand.
- Lunch: Lunch can be such a great opportunity to get in more good for you veggies and proteins, like those found in this delicious and easy to make, portion and pack Minestrone Soup. I make mine at the beginning of the week for days of satisfying lunches.
- Afternoon slump: Blending a vegetable and fruit-filled smoothie, like this Double Green Smoothie helps to fill me up and prevent pre-dinner snacking. Simply combine all of the ingredients, except your liquid, in a container and freeze or refrigerate until you’re ready to blend.
- Dinner: Making a weekly plan for your supper meals can help remind you what needs to come out of the freezer tonight and what to get started in the slow cooker for tomorrow. As well, chopping extra vegetables and making extra food that can be incorporated into tomorrow’s meals and snacks are also easy ways to stay one-step ahead.
When food prepping, plan to utilize all of your kitchen equipment in order to increase your productivity.
- Roast vegetables or meat
- Bake (sweet) potatoes
- Bake muffins or loafs
- Boil eggs
- Cook a pot of soup or chili
- Boil a batch of dried peas, beans or lentils
- Cook a pot of rice, quinoa or oatmeal. Try this Quinoa, Corn and Lentil Salad.
- Wash greens
- Wash and cut fruits and veggies
- Make home-made salad dressing. This Tahini Dressing is delicious!
Consider what you can complete in an hour on the weekend in order to make the week ahead more nutritious!