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From our blog.

Eat Healthy in No (or Little) Time

AMY GARDNER / June 21, 2012

Want to eat healthy but short on time?  Here are a few tips to streamline healthy eating for you and your family.

1.  Plan Ahead

Planning is key to eating healthy with limited time.  Invest 15-30 minutes a week into planning meals and your grocery list.  Think of 2-3 breakfast and lunch options and 3-5 dinners.  After you decide what’s on the menu, make up a grocery list.  If you have a smartphone, keep a list of items you need each week and add or subtract as needed.  Many grocery stores offer delivery for a small additional fee of $5-10 (or free if you have a coupon).  Use the time you would have spent at the store for planning.

2.  Stretch Foods

Choose foods that you can use over multiple meals.  For example, a rotisserie chicken can be dinner tonight and chicken salad to top your greens for lunch tomorrow.  Side dishes such as the edamame succotash recipe on our site (Edamame Succotash) are great for leftovers.

3.  Modify Convenience Foods

Prepared foods are typically high in fat, calories and sodium and low in fiber and nutrients despite their convenience and palatability.  Nonetheless, when pinched for time, they can make good starters for a healthier dish  Adding veggies, lean proteins and/or grains to convenience foods helps boost their nutritional quality without a lot of prep time.  Veggies like cooked spinach and broccoli make great additions to prepared pasta sauces and macaroni & cheese.  Or, take store-bought potato salad, typically loaded with mayo and give it a healthy and  appetizing  makeover  by adding a couple additional skin-on potatoes (5 minutes in the microwave) and/or some peas along with a little extra seasoning.  The same can be done with pasta salad; add some whole wheat pasta, beans and a cut-up red pepper and you’ve substantially improved a nutritionally blah food.

4.  Plan For and Utilize Leftovers

Buy extra meat, fish, poultry or veggies when grilling and find recipes to use the leftovers in.  Grill up some grass-fed beef and use the extra for steak & cheese subs the next day; use a whole wheat baguette with some leftover grilled veggies and a little cheese and you have a well-balanced and delicious meal.  For another idea, use grilled chicken in a pasta recipe like this one from Pioneer Woman (one of my favorite sites for recipes by the way) Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta.

5.  Simple Salads

Keep ingredients for easy-to-make salads on hand.  For a base, use pre-washed, bagged greens or wash your greens right when you get them home so they’re ready to go when you need them.  Add some grape tomatoes, shredded carrots, beans, edamame, olives, sliced beets and/or some nuts and you’ll have a salad with absolutely no slicing or dicing.  For added protein, boil some eggs and store them in the fridge.  That extra grilled meat comes in handy for this too.  Berries, mango and avocado are great additions to summer salads too but may require a little extra work.  Having all the ingredients ready to go and visible increasese the chance you will use them.