By: Lydia Kraus
According to The Center for Science in the Public Interest, poor nutrition contributes to a shocking 678,000 deaths per year in the United States, and obesity-related diseases (heart disease, cancer, and Type II diabetes) are steadily on the rise (doubled in adults, tripled in children, and quadrupled in adolescents, over the last 30 years). A typical American diet tends to be high in calories, sodium, added/processed sugar, and saturated fat, while it lacks essential nutrients and nutrient dense foods.
I’ve heard it myself so many times, “I CAN’T afford to eat healthy,” “I DON’T have time to pack lunch,” or my personal favorite, “I DON’T like to eat chicken, rice, and broccoli all the time.” Well, I’m here to tell you that you CAN, you DO, and you have so many options.
The picture above is from my recent grocery haul. I purchased everything for under $85, without coupons. These items (in addition to protein powder, some dry goods, fresh vegetables, and meats purchased previously) will feed both my husband and I three meals a day for well over a week.
While I enjoy cooking, meal-prepping, and experimenting in the kitchen, I know many folks don’t enjoy it and don’t have ample time to do so daily. Recipes are easy to come by on the internet, simply search “healthy quick version of (insert favorite dish)” and voila…watch the options roll in. At the beginning of the week, whip up a crock-pot meal. Again, there are countless recipes available online. Crock-pot meals and soups are easy to package up as soon as they are done cooking and set aside or freeze for lunches throughout the week.
Where to start: sit down with your family and come up with a list of your favorite meals, or meals you’d like to try. Google healthy versions of that meal, print recipe, and store for when you’re ready.
Pro Tips: Decide on a meal or two that you want to have over the course of the week, take a quick inventory of the ingredients you already have, go in with a list, buy generic, look for sales, and use coupons when you can. Prepare and package fresh veggies and fruit immediately (this will allow for easy access to “grab and go” healthy snack options, and will save time on meal preparation later on). Also, trim fat off of meats, store in zip lock bags, and freeze anything you might not use within the next few days. These tips will keep your food fresh longer and will save you money in the long run by eliminating waste. Pack up your lunch the night before with leftovers from your dinner.
Don’t get overwhelmed / have goals: If this is new to you, shoot for implementing better health into one additional meal per week. Replace one sugary or alcoholic beverage a day with a glass of water. Try cooking a new meal every week. Incorporate one additional family, sit-down meal into your weekly routine.
Here are a few examples of what my husband and I will be enjoying over the next week or two: a big batch of turkey/barley vegetable soup, ground turkey spaghetti with homemade sauce, grilled chicken with roasted potatoes and veggies, Asian-style pork salad, pork-fried rice, spinach/chicken/cottage cheese stuffed baked potatoes, peanut butter/banana sandwiches, scrambled egg sandwiches, taco salad, Mexican stuffed peppers, and chicken stir-fry.
Not only will my family be eating a variety of nutrient dense food throughout our week, we will be saving money (and calories) by not eating out or eating fast food. How about you and your family?