But, it’s also true for most of us that “eat healthy” is easier said than done. We’re too busy, and the lure of convenience foods and pre-cooked meals is too great. So we end up feeding our bodies junk – highly processed foods, fast foods, sweets, salty snacks and sodas.
If eating well seems like an impossible goal, don’t be discouraged. This post is the first in a 4-part Healthy Eating 101 series. The goal of the series is to provide simple, practical ideas we can use to eat nutritious, delicious foods – to feed our bodies well – without breaking the bank or keeping us in the kitchen until midnight every night! And it all starts with two crucial ingredients – organization and a plan.
Part 1 – Get Organized and Make a Plan
Eating well never “just happens.” It always requires organization and planning – both of which sound time consuming and tiring. The good news is, you can start small and work your way into a healthier eating plan. Every change you make benefits your body, your health and your family’s health – you don’t have to become “super organic vegetarian woman” to reap the benefits of healthy eating. Here are a few steps to help you get started:
• Clean out and organize your refrigerator and pantry/cabinets. I don’t mean a “take everything out and change the shelf paper” cleaning! Just get rid of food you aren’t going to or shouldn’t eat – i.e., it’s too old or too unhealthy. Put “like” things (or items that will make a meal) together and move the healthiest foods to the front for easy access. Do this at the beginning of every week – once you do it 2 or 3 times, it will take less than 5 minutes but will pay you back by saving you time and helping you know what you have on hand.
• Make a plan for the week. Take some time on the weekend to plan your family’s food for the week. Make a menu for dinners, taking into account evening activities. Note which nights you’ll need a quick meal and which ones will allow time for cooking. In addition to dinners, think about lunches and snacks. Also plan to double some meals and freeze the extras or send them to work or school as lunches.
• Make healthy foods the easy choice. After you shop for the week, do a few simple things that will make it easy for everyone in the family to eat well. Make small bags or containers of snacks that children or adults can grab and go, like grapes. carrot sticks, nuts, dried fruit, and cheese cubes. Cut up fruits and vegetables and put them in a convenient location in the refrigerator. Make a tossed salad large enough for several meals (doing all of the cutting and chopping only once saves a lot of time!)
• Be kind to yourself. Don’t have time to do all of these things? Just do one – and count it as a victory. Find yourself hitting the drive-thru because your meal plan didn’t work out? That’s fine – it will take time to refine your menu, shopping and meals so that you end up with a plan that works for you and your family.
Ready to take the next step? Check out the other 3 parts of this series.
And be sure to download my free ebook – The Busy Mom’s Guide to Healthy Family Meals. It includes 24 quick and healthy meals and 22 tips for prepping real food quickly and easily.
What strategies help you plan and organize healthier meals and snacks? I’d love for you to share your successes – and frustrations.