What to eat? With so many responsibilities and a “To Do” list that keeps getting longer, it can be frustrating trying to plan a healthy meal. The thought of having to add one more thing to our list is overwhelming. The week before returning to work from maternity leave with my second child, I vividly remember having the realization of all the new responsibilities and tasks that were about to be added to my plate. My daughter was also entering a new phase starting kindergarten, which meant we all would have to get up and out the door much earlier than the year before. Working, packing school lunches, keeping up with school work, supplies and all of those extra curricular activities like soccer and karate, along with the schedule of a new baby began to feel over whelming.
I had desires to keep myself and my family fit and healthy and knew there would have to be a few changes. Something would have to come off of my plate if I wanted to stay healthy physically and mentally.
At the end of the day, my priority has always been to have quality family time and provide a healthy meal. However, I knew, at this stage of my life, an elaborate meal that took too much time in the kitchen would not happen, at least Monday –Friday. Every busy woman has different ideas, responsibilities or tasks that may need to be removed when something new is added. For me, it was the idea that a healthy meal required a lot of labor and time each night to eat healthy.
To make things simple, when things can get hectic in the fall of the year, there a few tricks of the trade to design a quick healthy meal.
1. Plate Design
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, fifty percent of your plate should consist of fruits and vegetables, twenty-five percent proteins and twenty five percent healthy grains. Quit worrying about what you can’t eat and focus on what to add to your meal. By planning to fill half our plate with fruits and vegetables, the process and preparation can be cut in half (and healthier too).
2. Look at your schedule
Planning is the key to eating healthy with a busy schedule, however, make sure the plan is according to your personal schedule. Before picking elaborate recipes, are you aware of what your time constraints are for the week? Nothing is more frustrating than to realize, at the last minute, we do not have the time we had hoped to spend preparing a nice meal. Are there certain days that make more sense to cook in the crock pot? Could you double a recipe one night to have leftovers on a night you can not cook?
3. Keep it Easy
Because our schedule can be so hectic in the evening, I chose only one item that may take a little extra work. For example, if making a chicken dish that takes extra ingredients and time, my salad or vegetables will be steamed or simply baked. If my sides need a little extra time, chicken or fish will be marinated to quickly throw on the grill.
To stay consistent with healthy eating and exercise, your personal lifestyle, likes and dislikes have to be a part of your design. We each have a unique style and have to find what works for us.
I love to cook and spend time in the kitchen, but at this season of my life, my time is limited so I have to figure out what healthy design works for me right now.
“What’s working for you in your design”?