I always think September feels more like a ‘new year’ than January. The feel of fall in the air, shorter days, cooler evenings, the back to school schedule, new sports teams and activities starting. With all of this comes packing lunches, ensuring healthy snacks are available and often less time to prepare dinners.
Making healthy nutritional choices can be difficult when time and energy are not on your side. Being prepared and recognizing the importance of nutrient dense fuel for the brain and the body can make the tasks a little easier.
Below are some tips for starting September off on the right nutritional foot and feeling the benefits:
- Plan ahead. Whether you like to batch cook or simply have the ingredients available in your kitchen, knowing what you are having for meals ahead of time is imperative. Some people work well with meal planning for the whole week, others plan a few days in advance. Whatever your preference, knowing what you are going to eat ahead of time limits the fast food and take out options.
- Make more than you need. When preparing dinners, make extra. A few additional chicken breasts or a larger pot of turkey chili means left overs for lunches and possibly tomorrow’s dinner.
- Prepare breakfast the night before. Overnight oats, egg muffins, chia pudding, smoothie, to name a few, can all be prepared the night before so breakfast isn’t forgotten or picked up at your local coffee spot. A nutritious protein rich breakfast helps to balance blood sugar levels and will keep you satiated.
- Pack lunches the night before. Leftovers from dinner make great lunches. While cleaning up from dinner pack away the leftovers in your lunch containers. Mason jar salads are another easy lunch that can be prepared the night before. Add the leftover protein from your dinner to the salad.
- Have the kids help with their lunches. Get creative and let the kids come up with some healthy foods they can take for snacks and lunches. Be open minded and have only healthy choices available for them. It’s their lunch. If they help prepare it they may even eat it! Doing this the night before is much saner then early in the morning when you are pressed for time.
- When grocery shopping purchase items that can be used for more than one meal. The tomatoes you purchase can be used in the sauce one night, sliced up for a greek salad the following, and can also be eaten as a snack.
- When preparing dinner slice up extra vegetables and store them so that they are an easy go to snack. Opening the fridge and finding the carrots, celery, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes etc already washed and sliced means the kids are more likely to eat them. Of course, you will need to have some hummus for dipping!
- Homemade energy bars are a quick pre-activity snack and you control the ingredients your kids (or you) are consuming. Choose recipes that use raw honey or maple syrup instead of sugar and nuts, hemp seeds or nut butters for a protein component. Make extra and keep them in the freezer. Most bars or protein balls keep for weeks in the freezer.
- If time is an issue when it comes to grocery shopping there are many options for you. Most grocery stores have a delivery service. Many companies offer online shopping that delivers to your door. You can do your grocery shopping in your pajamas with your cup of chamomile tea!
- There are meal preparation companies that can make your life easier. Use them a few days a week. You can choose food that comes fresh and ready to cook, precooked meals or even meals that are prepared for you in your kitchen! HelloFresh, Fresh Prep, CHOMP, Real Meals, Eat Your Cake, Fresh in Your Fridge, are a few to check out.
Eating healthy should not be difficult or stressful. Being prepared and organized and finding a plan that works for you and your family is the key.