Busy lives and hectic schedules often mean that eating is an afterthought. However, if your favorite pizza order is saved on the website, or staff at the local fast food joint greets you by name, it might be time to figure out how to incorporate healthier eating into your busy schedule.
Figuring out what’s for dinner often gets forgotten in the hustle of homework, after school activities, and working late. Staring into the open fridge wondering what to make often leads to ordering pizza. Instead, make a menu plan at the start of the week by using an online planning tool and smartphone app such as Pepperplate , which helps you organize recipes, create a schedule and make a shopping list. Or you can make a simple printable menu schedule . Start by noting the evening commitments that you’ll need to work around. Then decide on a balanced meal for each evening. Or go a step further and plan for breakfast and lunch as well. Once you have your plan in place, make a shopping list to ensure that nothing gets left behind and post your menu on the fridge so that the whole family knows what’s for dinner each night.
Cook Once, Eat All Week
Rather than cooking everyday, spend several hours on one day preparing food and eat well all week long. Using the recipes and tips from Self , or your own menu plan, set aside Sunday afternoons to cook large batches of a few meals. Divide the batches into reheatable glass containers and label them with the contents, date prepared, and what day they should be served. Every evening, pull out the appropriate container, heat, and serve, and skip all the mixing, stirring, and cooking drama for a whole week.
Lunches often lead to grabbing fast food or heading to the school snack bar. Instead, use the same technique of packing lunches for the entire week at one time. Using the make-ahead lunch ideas from Better Homes and Gardens , or the Bento box ideas from Laptop Lunches , package lunches into reusable containers, color coded for each member of the family. As everyone is heading out for school and work, grab the right lunches for a simplified morning.
If cooking and preparing a week’s worth of meals at one time doesn’t work for your family, at least get some of the prep work out of the way in advance. After grocery shopping, wash all fruits and vegetables so that they are readily available. Then, using your menu plan, chop all vegetables and measure them out into the correct quantities for each meal. Taking care of these details in advance will make cooking simpler and faster.
Pack a Snack
Even when you eat right at meal time, hunger, or just a case of the munchies, can pop up. Needing to grab a quick snack between meetings or while out running errands can derail all your hard work and send you running to a vending machine. Instead of punching a button for that bag of sugar, develop good snack habits and plan ahead. Keep it simple and put servings of healthy snacks like baby carrots, almonds, grapes, apple slices, or pretzels into small baggies. Create your prepackaged snacks immediately after your trip to the grocery store and grab a few each time you walk out the door. Also, try to anticipate times when you will need a heartier snack and prep a hard boiled egg, ants on a log, or a smoothie in advance. Quick and easy snacks, like the 20 suggestions at Keep Your Diet Real , can keep your blood sugar in check and prevent overeating at your next meal.
Make the Best Choice
Even with the best advanced planning, heading through the drive through is unavoidable once in awhile. When you have to pick up fast food, make the best choice possible by knowing the menus in advance. Using either the chain website or the Restaurant Fast Food Nutrition app , compare menu choices, calorie counts, and fiber content, to make the choice that works best for you.
When life gets out of control, healthy eating doesn’t have to follow. With a little advance planning, you and your family can eat right even on the busiest of days.
What’s on your plate?
When your schedule gets crowded with too many activities, what happens to your dinner plate? How do you plan ahead to eat right? We want to be a resource in your journey to better eating habits, so leave a comment below. We always read our comments and reply to them, so help us get the conversation going with your ideas and experiences. We can’t wait to hear from you–and neither can our other readers.
You spend your entire day racing from one responsibility to another. Getting to work on time, picking up the dry cleaning, checking the kids’ homework, and making dinner occupy every minute of your day. You know you need to fit in a workout. But when? While you are juggling a full time life, it’s hard to make fitness a priority. But staying fit doesn’t necessarily mean spending an hour at the gym. There are ways to sneak in a workout without sacrificing the rest of your life.
Make It A Family Affair
One of the biggest reasons parents have trouble finding time for exercise is that they don’t want to sacrifice time with their kids. Instead of trying to balance family time with fitness, combine the two with Fit Family Fitness’ 100 Activities for Family Fitness . Rather than sitting and supervising when you take the kids to the park, get in on the action by chasing a frisbee, pushing them in the swings, or starting a game of tag. While they are at softball or soccer practice, stop checking email and Facebook on your phone and go for a walk or jog near the field instead. In the evenings, get the whole family out for a walk around the neighborhood. Use it as a chance to talk about what’s going on at school, or, if you really need to multitask, quiz them on spelling words or multiplication tables while you stroll. On the weekends, replace Saturday morning cartoons with a hike on the local trails or a morning of geocaching .
Even date night with your sweetie can count as a workout with a little planning. Skip the cliche dinner and movie and get moving with one of Spark People’s 20 Date Night Ideas complete with estimates for the number of calories you can burn. Salsa, swing, or country western dancing will have you on your feet and your heart pumping. Or, take a tennis class together for a date with a little friendly competition. No matter which activity you choose, you’ll be getting a little exercise while deepening your relationship.
Make It Work
Your workday might be jammed with meetings, phone calls, and paperwork, but you can sneak a few fitness activities into your day. In fact, there are many exercise moves that you can do right in your cubicle or office . Many of them can be done while you continue to work or talk on the phone. Bring a change of shoes and take a walk at lunchtime, or get creative and schedule a walking meeting with a coworker that will let you collaborate on projects and discuss office issues all while meeting your fitness goals. When it’s time for a bathroom break, head for the one on another floor and take the stairs to get there.
Divide and Conquer
When you want a traditional workout but don’t have an hour, or even a half-hour, of your day to give, try splitting it up into smaller portions at the start and end of your day. Get up 15 minutes early and devote the time to Shape Magazine’s workout right at home. At night, spend the last 15 minutes before bed on one of Yoga by Candace’s quick yoga routines .
Sneaking exercise into your busy day takes a little creativity, but it can be a good way to stay fit and healthy without giving up anything else. Plus, what seems like a change now will soon become a habit, and you’ll be setting a great example for the kids.
How Do You Move?
What keeps you from working out? Have you found ways to sneak in exercise? Inspire us! Share your tips and tricks in the comments below, and visit us on Facebook to see how your friends and neighbors are moving more. We have been lacking comments here on the blog, and we would love to get more conversations going. If you have never posted before, why not start today? Just type into the box below and hit submit! We always answer our comments.
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