Finding ways to make healthy eating easy is something I wish we’d figured out much earlier in our parenting career.
By investing a couple of hours on the weekend, I can spare myself time, money and bad meal decisions all week long.
Because, let’s face it. We’ve all been there. You’re rushing to get out the door in the morning, and run out of time to pack a lunch. After all, you can always hit a drive through or a semi-stale coffee shop sandwich later. Gross – and that $10 would be better spent on pretty shoes.
Or you get home at the end of a long day, too tired to even open the fridge, let alone pull a healthy supper together. Easier just to order a high-sodium pizza or – my personal favourite – crack open a bag of chips and a bottle of wine.
To make it easier to eat better and harder to take the easy way out, we started frontloading our week with a couple of hours of food prep on Sundays.
This isn’t rocket science. Here are three things you can do to get closer to my favourite Michael Pollan mantra: Eat real food. Mostly vegetables. But not too much.
1) Make raw veggies easy
- 8 peeled carrots
- 8 stalks of celery
- 4 sweet peppers.
Slice half of the vegetables into sticks. Divide into five or six reusable containers and refrigerate. Pop into your lunch bag in the morning. (P.S. – Do the same with fruit. Pineapple, blueberries and grapes all store well if washed and dried thoroughly.)
Slice the other half of your vegetables for an easy-prep stir fry. When you drag your tired butt home from work, heat some oil in a large skillet, toss in some bite-sized chunks of chicken, beef or shrimp, add pre-washed, pre-sliced veggies and your favourite light sauce.
If you’re someone who needs to dip your carrot sticks, step away from the blue cheese dressing and throw together a quick hummus in your food processor.
2) Simple snacking with protein-packed lemon-garlic hummus
- 1 can chick peas, drained
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp. garlic
- 1 tbsp. chia seeds (optional)
- ¼ cup tahini paste
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- ½ tsp. paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. For quick snacks, divide into small, reusable containers, drizzle with olive oil and fresh herbs.
3) Quick and delicious salad fixings
I’ll admit, I could be the queen of pre-washed greens. There’s nothing easier than popping open a plastic clamshell of baby spinach, kale or arugula and grabbing a no-muss, no-fuss handful for a salad, sauté or smoothie. But I’m trying to be more conscientious about buying local and organic – especially in the wake of produce recalls out of the U.S.
So again, taking time on the weekend to wash and thoroughly dry enough fresh greens for the week saves precious minutes on workdays when time and energy are in short supply.
I usually cook a couple of chicken breasts on Sunday, sliced and ready to drop into a lunch or supper salad. To keep things from getting boring, we count on a few simple but delicious toppings, so tasty that I skip salad dressing all together, or just drizzle with a bit of balsamic vinegar.
- Take that container of cherry or grape tomatoes lurking in the back of your fridge. Wash, slice in half lengthwise, and use a small spoon or your finger to clean out the seeds and pulp.
- Pre-heat oven to 350F
- Lay cut-side up on cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.
- Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add salt and pepper (to taste)
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until slightly dry and caramelized
- Store in the fridge for up to a week (if they last that long)
- Cut the tail-end of last week’s bread into one-inch cubes.
- Place cubes in a sealable freezer bag.
- Add 3 tbsp. olive oil and 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar and your favourite mix of herbs. Shake well
- Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet.
- Add bread cubes. Cook, stirring, and flipping cubes, until brown and crispy throughout.
- Cool thoroughly before storing in an airtight container
- Wash cucumber and cut into 1-inch chunks.
- Place in a large, lidded jar. Add ¼ balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp. olive oil and your favourite garden herbs. Shake well. Store in refrigerator for up to one week.
Other tips for to make healthy eating easier?
Take time on the weekend to bake your own bread. It’s quicker and easier than you think. You can find recipes in our Breaking Bread post. Make at least one big-batch meal that can provide the kind of leftovers people want to eat. The lasagna recipe in our Food for the Soul post is a great example.