Using Food Prep to Make Healthier Choices

I was talking to my dad about some barriers that are faced when it comes to eating healthy. We have access to an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes all packed with health-promoting nutrients and yet we opt for microwaveable meals and packaged foods. Making our own food is the best way to control the ingredients and know exactly what we are eating, but sometimes our busy schedules have a bigger say in what we are able to eat in a time-crunch. As much as I love looking at the food-bloggers post of colorful bowls of food and perfectly placed produce on the plate, I personally don’t have time to throw together extravagant meals. As someone working 40+ hours a week between 2 jobs, taking classes and finding as much time as I can to ride my bike, I am all for convenience without sacrificing my health, so here’s a few tips that I have picked up to make sure that I don’t have to spend a ton of time making food and have more time to do the things that I want to do.

1. Simplify your meals.

Eating healthy doesn’t need to mean outrageous salads with 25 ingredients and some fancy dressing. One of my go-to meals is a burrito bowl: the base of rice or quinoa, some greens like kale or spinach and then some legume like lentils or beans usually topped with avocado, nutritional yeast and salsa or hot sauce. That alone will cover most of your nutrient needs and is packed with fiber and a mix of carbs, fat and protein to keep you satisfied. If the rice or quinoa is made beforehand, it takes less than 5 minutes to throw it all in a bowl. I’ll do the same thing with cooked sweet potato; I’ll l just throw it in a bowl with some greens and some sort of sauce topping, and it’s good to go. These foods pack well too and can be taken to work.

2. Meal Prep. Meal Prep. Meal Prep.

This is something that I struggle with too but I am SO glad when I put aside an hour on Sunday and cook up a big pot of rice or quinoa and bake some sweet potatoes in the oven. Then, during the rest of the week, I can just toss them in the microwave, add beans, add greens and I’m good to go. This will save you time and money in the long run and prevents those hungry runs to costly and unhealthy fast food places.

3. Buy what you’re going to eat.

Make sure to have some staple foods that you buy and know you can make a meal with. For me that’s: oatmeal, frozen berries, rice, quinoa, potatoes, beans, spinach, kale, frozen veggies, avocado and, right now, apples. Once you have your staples, feel free to venture out and try some new foods and maybe challenge yourself to try cooking a new vegetable, but don’t continue buying romanesco broccoli or purple sweet potatoes every grocery visit if they’re just going to sit at the back of your fridge for 2 weeks then end up in the trash. This can take some trial and error. Personally for me I know I do not eat pears, chard, or beets regularly enough to keep them in my regular grocery haul. Sometimes I’ll throw them in my cart if I have a recipe in mind, otherwise I know I’m just wasting my money.

Written by Taylor Brower.

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