You’re trying to eat healthy but life is getting in the way. You wake up late and either skip breakfast or grab fast food on the run. You then end up grabbing the worst possible choices because you have little time to shop when you are on a tight deadline, or when you find yourself stuck in the office for lunch or dinner. Maybe you live off vending machine options because you are stuck in the office all day. How do you manage your impossible schedule and eat healthy? The key is to plan simple menus for on-the-go, shop ahead of time, and brown bag to work, so you can eat healthy on the run.
Plan simple menus
There are key foods that can be purchased in bulk and are easy to transport, or that lend themselves to several different recipe options.
Breakfast ideas: Plan on a protein and fruit for breakfast on the go, or a simple wrap (peanut butter and bananas) that you can make the night before. You can also create a portable yogurt parfait in a plastic cup or container ahead of time or bring a bag of cereal and nuts mixed, to work, and mix in a cup of yogurt or cottage cheese.
Lunch ideas: A salad and protein (think tuna, grilled chicken, or beans) is easy to throw together at home and transport with dressing in a separate container. Baked crackers or whole grain crisp bread can provide a healthy grain accompaniment.
Snacks can be cut up veggies and hummus, nuts, part skim string cheese, or fruit and a single packet of nut butter.
Shop ahead of time and with a “for a week’s worth of menus” attitude
- Fruits like apples, pears, oranges, tangerines, bananas are single serve and travel well
- Carrots, celery, cucumbers, peppers, and greens are easy to cut up and travel well in plastic bags, containers, or combined in a mason jar.
- Hard boiled eggs, soybeans, nuts, and part skim string cheese are quality proteins that travel well.
- Find a nutrition bar that you like with limited added sugars and a good dose of protein so you have a go-to snack, or mini-meal when combined with a skim latte and piece of fruit.
- Buy skinless chicken breasts and fish like salmon in four to six ounce portion sizes and cook up several for a week’s worth of choices to add to a lunch or dinner salad.
- Cook up an ancient grain like quinoa and bake some potatoes. When added to a salad they provide a superstar grain carbohydrate.
- Baked whole grain crackers or pita chips can be portioned out in small plastic bags – so you just grab a bag or two for the day.
- Make your own trail mix with high fiber cereal, nuts, dried fruit and some “broken pieces” of a nutrition bar.
- A wrap with scrambled eggs and veggies, or beans and veggies, or beans plus part skim cheese and veggies is an easy lunch. Add an apple and you’ve covered four food groups – grain, protein, dairy and fruit.
- Homemade or store-bought hummus and bean dips with cut up vegetables are a perfect snack
- Single serve packets of nut butters and 100-calorie nut packs or mixed nuts and dried fruit packs, make it easy to transport these healthy treats and follow portion control.
Brown bags and insulated bags
If you use a brown bag to transport food, consider a frozen water bottle in a plastic bag to keep foods cool.
Insulated bags come in all shapes and sizes if you want to keep food extra cool.
Bento boxes can be used to help with portion control, and remind you to include three to four “food group choices” in your lunch or dinner menu plan.
You can go to bulk food stores to buy the same little tiny plastic containers used in stores for dips and salad dressing, so you can bring your own healthier versions.
The bottom line
You can eat healthy on the run with a little bit of preparation and the right tools. You may also find that it costs less to “carry it with you to work.”
Amy Hendel is a Physician Assistant and Health Coach with over 20 years of experience. Noted author, journalist and lifestyle expert, she brings extensive expertise to her monthly shareposts. Her most recent book, The 4 Habits of Healthy Families is available for purchase online, and you can watch her in action on her shows Food Rescue and What's for Lunch? Sign up for her daily health tweets or catch her daily news report at www.healthgal.com.
Published On: June 04, 2014