One night, my husband and I had taken our son (who was 18 months old at the time) to town with us when we went to complete our grocery shopping. I was 7 months pregnant with our daughter, and was still trying to get my nutrition right. We were sitting in Arby’s eating dinner and I was frantically scrolling through Google trying to find some recipes that were healthy, quick, easy…it was a tall order and I was becoming increasingly anxious. I ended up giving up, buying groceries for healthy lunches but going with whatever the rest of the family was eating for other meals. It was an incredibly discouraging moment in my health journey.
The good news is, it doesn’t end there! I have learned a lot about nutrition and its relationship with fitness and with overall health, and the most helpful was developing a list of just a few staples I always make sure to have in my kitchen so I can throw together a quick healthy meal…even if I don’t have much time!
PLEASE NOTE: These are staples I personally used in my weight loss journey that helped me. I encourage you to try these out and see if they work for you. If you would like to have a more detailed discussion about nutrition coaching that can take some of the mystery out of healthier eating, click here to learn more about services offered!
Lean Protein – You want to always have a lean (lower fat) protein at your disposal that is quick to prepare. This can be something like frozen turkey burgers (one patty is approximately 20g of protein), cooked ground turkey or chicken (you can season with a low-sodium seasoning…I like taco seasoning), or cook up a batch of shredded chicken (1 package of chicken breasts + 32 oz chicken broth + whatever spices/seasonings you want in a crock pot for 8 hours and BOOM, instant meal prep). If you’re going for a meatless option, tofu or canned beans are excellent options.
Steamable bags of frozen veggies – This was the easiest way for me to start easing veggies into my diet more frequently. It required almost no preparation (just throwing it in the microwave!) and once cooked, I mixed in some low-sodium seasoning and ate my veggies that way. Bonus: I could buy a few bags of these and take one to work with me as an easy side for my lunch!
Fresh or frozen fruit – this comes down to preference and whatever is more manageable for you, but both are good ideas. Frozen fruit can be put into protein shakes or smoothies, mixed with oats, or be a topping to a bowl of yogurt. As far as fresh fruit, anything that is easy for you to grab and go if you need some quick fuel as you’re rushing out the door (I ALWAYS have apples and bananas in my arsenal for this).
Prepped breakfast items – while I *highly* recommend meal prepping as much as possible – as this helps you to stay on track with your nutrition goals – breakfast is usually when most people say they’re the most pressed for time and feel they cannot set aside the time to make a nutritious breakfast. This can be anything you want – overnight oats, prepped protein waffles (click here to check out my personal favorite brand of protein pancake/waffle mix – they have so many yummy flavors!), pre-made omelet cups with veggies, protein or superfood shakes…whatever you prefer!
Complex carbs – carbohydrates supply the body with energy, and complex carbs provide more lasting energy than simple ones as they take longer to break down. My personal favorites were bags of 90-second brown rice, sweet potatoes, whole wheat pasta, and whole-grain bread, but there are so many foods in this category – whatever you try and like best!
One of my first thoughts, when I started shopping for these things, was worrying how I would fit it into my budget, especially being a mom of two toddlers and having a husband who was a picky eater. I’ve learned the tricks to eating healthy on a budget, and I’d love to share them! Click here to learn more!