Life seems to get increasingly busy. A post-pandemic return to the office signals more time spent commuting and away from home. Combine this with a packed schedule and there’s little time left for healthy eating. Then it’s all too easy to reach for the snacks or takeaway menu. But there are plenty of ways to eat healthily when you are super busy. Here are just a handful.
Weekend Prep – Batch Cooking
Early preparation does not always come naturally but it can be so helpful for super busy people. Fill your head – and your fridge – with good intentions by doing a healthy shop at the weekend. Make a couple of large veg and protein-rich meals to box up for the week ahead. A healthy dinner just needs reheating when you get home. Or grab one to microwave at work. It’s a quick and inexpensive meal solution. Plus, home cooking means reducing your sugar and processed food intake which is a healthy bonus.
Make Your Own Soup
Making soup couldn’t be easier. It can even be done without a recipe – get creative! Furthermore, you can pack it with heaps of healthy veggies and add canned beans, lentils or chicken for a protein boost. Soften your sliced vegetables and protein in a little oil then add water, a stock cube, and seasoning. Simmer for 20 minutes then blast with a hand blender, leaving a few yummy chunks. Voila! A tasty nutritious soup that will last a few days and can be reheated in minutes. All it needs is a big wedge of buttered toast. Plus, making soup is a great way to use up sad-looking vegetables. Alternatively, bung in some frozen veg – it’s all healthy goodness.
Drink More Water
Keeping hydrated boosts concentration and fights fatigue. It’s more vital for health than food. If the thought of chugging back water is uninspiring, invest in a fancy new bottle to show off at work. Try using an infusion bottle that allows you to add slices of fruit, cucumber or herbs for a healthy twist. If your tap water doesn’t taste the best, a filtration jug is a cheap addition to the kitchen. Or try filters for your water bottle. You could save pounds, and boost health, by not spending on bottled water or sugary fizzy drinks.
Pack Your Own Lunch
It means getting up a bit earlier or preparing the night before, but this is worth it. Packing your own lunch allows you to choose the healthy option. Wholemeal bread filled with lean protein, hummus and salads can pack a punch, as well as a lunch box. Add fruit or low-sugar granola bars for a satisfying sweet treat. A selection of nuts and seeds will keep hunger pangs away and provide a protein boost. Try wraps filled with falafel and grated veg. And why not bring a jar of that homemade soup for warmth and an extra fibre hit? Bringing your own lunch saves money, and ready-made sandwiches can be tasteless and expensive. Plus, they may have been boxed up days before. A healthy lunch will keep you fuller for longer and provide essential nutrients.
Commit To Meals, Not Snacks
Everyone is tempted to snack. We’re usually not even hungry and just want the distraction. Commit to healthy meals at regular times and the snacking should disappear. Try setting an alarm so you make time to eat. This reduces the temptation to graze or dash for an afternoon sugar rush of junk food. The break away from work and screen while eating is mentally beneficial too. Perhaps plan for a ten-minute walk or blast of fresh air during your meal break to relieve fatigue, reduce stress and boost endorphins.
Prepare Smoothie Bags
It’s easy to be full of good intentions when grocery shopping and buy way too much fruit. If you have a neglected pile of fruity goodness, don’t wait for it to rot. Cut it, slice it, cube it and throw it into freezer bags. Add an equal proportion to each bag and you have a ready-made smoothie mix. A smoothie makes a great on-the-go breakfast, especially with added oats or chia seeds. These provide substance and fibre for a hunger-busting slow energy release. Empty the smoothie mix into a blender, add your extras, top up with water, ice, yoghurt or a milk of your choice, and blitz. In seconds you have a healthy and delicious breakfast for your commute or the desk.
No Change Equals No Vending Machine
If the office vending machine still takes coins, leave your heavy change at home. That way there’s no choice but to avoid that unhealthy selection of crisps, chocolate and fizzy drinks. It takes no effort and your body will thank you. Filling up on sugary processed foods can make the brain and taste buds tingle but it leads to a disappointing crash soon after. If your job involves hours of sitting, grabbing a high fat snack every day will slowly pile on the pounds. If you have to snack, bring a selection of trail mix, nuts or dried fruits to chew on.
Invest In A Slow Cooker
Again, this means preparing in advance, but a slow cooker can save you time and provide nutritious meals. Give yourself 15 minutes in the morning to add all your healthy ingredients to a slow cooker. Set the timer and head off for the day. The thought of a hot meal being ready when you get home will keep takeaway temptation at bay. Plus, all that’s needed at the end of the day is to dig in. It’s especially good on dark, cold winter days to have a hot meal to welcome you home. A slow cooker is an investment, but they have legions of fans and there are many simple, healthy meal ideas online. And it cuts down on the washing up!
It’s not that hard to eat healthily when life is super busy. But it does take some thought and planning. Get yourself set up with a set of shiny new storage boxes, drinks containers and soup jars. If fresh fruit and veg tends to rot from lack of interest, buy frozen instead. It’s even easier to add to soups, stir-fries and smoothies. In addition, it lasts longer and is usually cheaper. Preparation will save time – and money – in the long run. Think carefully about the supplies needed for the week. Make a meal plan if necessary. Then stock up and prepare for a week of healthy eating. You may find you have more time for yourself than you realised.