The Key to Healthy Dietary Nutrition? Planning and Preparation for Meals
When you are feeling tired, what kind of snack do you reach for? We are all tempted to use convenience snacks to bridge the gap between meals, but often the most affordable and accessible snacks are full of unhealthy ingredients, including sugar, glucose and food additives. Unfortunately, when we choose junk food or processed snack options, we are often hungry within thirty-minutes to an hour after consuming them. Why? Because the body is only satiated when nutritional needs are met. And since fruits and vegetables are not always available (particularly for people on-the-go), we reach for more processed foods to fill the hunger gap.
Nutritionists will tell you that 75% of people are committed to eating more healthfully, but closer to 90% of individuals lack the tools or training to make healthy foods just as convenient as unhealthy, junk food options. And misconceptions exist about natural food and healthy diets, where some think that fresh foods are dramatically more expensive than fast-food offers or processed snacks, which is not the case, according to several studies on family nutrition and budget. In fact, a 2013 study by Harvard concluded that even the healthiest, high quality diet cost little more than $1.50 per day more than a diet of processed foods. We went looking for some valuable articles and “how to” information to help families who want to achieve their goal and optimize dietary nutrition.
With a few easy healthy eating ‘hacks’, the average family can improve weight management and health outcomes by overhauling the unhealthy, and making a change to home prepared foods, lunches, snacks and dinners. ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Once a Week Food Prep + 20 Starter Recipes and Meal Prep Ideas’ is an article featured by a lifestyle blog called “Organize Yourself Skinny”. The tips in this article include healthy, make-ahead alternatives that easily fit within a busy schedule. We loved the recipe for the delicious ‘Greek Mason Jar Chicken Salad’, which is perfect for office lunches. The lifestyle and nutrition blog, ‘The Lean Green Bean’ offered some great high fiber snack alternatives, including the ‘Quinoa Breakfast Bar’ recipe. Quinoa is a high fiber and high protein superfood, and if it is a mainstay of your weekly diet, this breakfast bar recipe will repurpose leftovers in a healthy new way.
Tips for Mastering Make-Ahead Healthy Meals
- Pre-cut and wash durable fruits and vegetables like melon, raw cauliflower or broccoli, watermelon, grapes, carrots, celery, radishes and other snack favorites. Make healthy options as easy and accessible as processed foods and snacks.
- Use convenient mason jars to store everything from refrigerator oatmeal (with fresh fruit), to delicious Cobb salads and more. The reusable glass jars can be tightly sealed, and are environmentally friendly alternatives to plastic bags or containers (and can be reused indefinitely without concern for BPA’s).
- Pack an interesting lunch every day. Vary your healthy snacks and salads, with higher protein options including hard boiled eggs, quinoa and vegetables, brown rice and more. If you take the same salad for lunch every day, healthy eating will lose its appeal quickly. Get creative in your kitchen to make healthy eating fun and delicious.
- Start a Facebook group to exchange healthy, make-ahead recipes. You can also start a board on Pinterest to share with family and friends, and get inspirational new and healthy pre-prepared recipe options that your family will love. Don’t forget to find us on Pinterest and share your healthy recipes!