When you think of eating a balanced diet, there’s a good chance you also think of hours preparing and cooking meals. That is one way to ensure you get the nutrients you need to fuel an active and healthy lifestyle. However, a lack of time for meal prep shouldn’t be a deterrent to trying. These six tips can help you stay fueled for your active lifestyle.
1. Pick Up a Heat-and-Eat Meal
Many grocery stores are jumping in with an assortment of ready-to-cook meals that eliminate any prep work. While not quite as quick as a trip through the drive-thru, a carefully chosen ready-to-heat meal will offer a lot more nutrients with much less fat, calories, and sodium.
Many meals include a protein, vegetable, and starch to ensure you get a well-rounded selection. You can also find more limited meals, such as pasta dishes and grain bowls.
2. Grab a Meal Replacement
For those days when things are running behind, a quick packaged meal replacement is a much better option than skipping a meal. Look for products that align with your eating preferences, such as a high-quality vegan protein bar or dairy-free shake. You’ll get the nutrients you need without the guilt of a fast-food meal.
3. Mix Up a Smoothie
If you have five minutes before running out the door, you can make a batch of smoothies to hold everyone over. You don’t need any special equipment to make a smoothie, although a high-speed blender does make it easier to get a great consistency.
One of the greatest things about smoothies is that they work for almost any meal. For example, a fruit smoothie with oatmeal is an excellent breakfast replacement, while a more robust version with vegetables, hemp, and flaxseeds can fill in for lunch or dinner.
4. Schedule a Meal Prep Day
Meal prepping is an excellent way to have home-cooked meals when your schedule leaves little time on most days. If you can devote a morning or afternoon a month to chopping, mixing, and packaging meals, all you’ll have to do to enjoy a healthy meal is pop it in the oven. On the other hand, if you can devote a whole day, you might consider cooking some of those meals to simply reheat one and enjoy it.
A bonus to meal prepping is that it can also help you save money. You can plan menus based on what this on sale when you are shopping. Plus, many ingredients are cheaper when purchased in bulk, adding more to your savings.
5. Use a Crock Pot
The sight and smell of a crockpot bubbling on the kitchen counter is welcome after a long day. This convenient and low-energy appliance is an excellent tool for busy households. You can make everything from lasagna to pot roast in one. Find a few slow cooker dinner recipes that your family enjoys, and then make a point of including them in your weekly menus.
6. Order a Home Delivery Meal Service
Meal deliveries are convenient and customizable, making them an excellent choice for busy people. Many options are on the market today, catering to virtually every taste and dietary preference. For example, you can choose vegan meals, blendable smoothie mixes, and keto-friendly meals. Most allow you to choose which meals you want in each delivery, so you only get food you like.
You’ll want to be aware that meal delivery plans can get expensive if you are feeding the whole family every day. For that reason, it is advisable to use this for a few meals a week, such as nights when you get home late and have to get right back out the door for the kids’ school events.
Don’t let your busy schedule get in the way of a balanced diet. Shortcuts such as pre-chopped veggies, ready-to-cook meals, and meal replacement bars can help you get the nutrients you need when life keeps you out of the kitchen.