I get it.
When you’ve been working all day, getting into the kitchen to cook a healthy meal is not the most appealing thing in the world. It’s a lot more tempting to go eat out or order take out.
Despite your best intentions at the grocery store to buy and cook delicious produce, you can’t seem to find the time to eat as healthy as you’d like to.
It’s frustrating (and heart-breaking) when you have to throw out wilted greens and rotten produce you never got the chance to eat. Perfectly good food, energy, and money wasted.
If only healthy eating was as easy as it looks on Pinterest or Instagram.
How do you stop wasting energy and money in healthy food you don’t get a chance to eat?
How can you make the time to start eating like you want to?
Well, to give you the answers you need I asked 18 wonderful food bloggers, book authors, dietitians, and entrepreneurs to share their secrets to eating healthy when you have an insanely busy schedule.
I asked them the #1 question that you want an answer for:
What is your best tip to make time to eat healthy on a busy schedule?
If there’s one thing you can get from these 18 answers, it’s this: Plan ahead.
Planning ahead is the number one trick to stay on top of everything you need to do AND eat healthy at the same time.
Of course, you need to read the answers to learn all the useful insights on food prepping, meal planning, snacking, and more secrets 😉
Bonus printable! Weekly meal planner template along with healthy snack ideas, perfect to place in your fridge :). [thrive_2step id=’1167′]Click here to get the meal planner + healthy snack ideas.[/thrive_2step]
You can read the answers individually by clicking on each expert’s name in this handy table:
Let’s see what they said!
“Meal plan and get some of the prep done the night before, so assembly is quick the next day.I’m a big fan of taking smoothies and salads in jars for on-the-go nutrition.
Making quick easy soups take less than 30 minutes and make fabulous healthy nutrient-dense meals. Salad dressings full of greens, herbs, avocado drizzled over a mixture of leafy greens, nuts, seeds, avocado, raw veggies are also really quick and easy.”
“Two words: advanced prep. Make healthy snacks and meals over the weekend that can be enjoyed throughout the week when time and energy are usually short. For example, I love making these Date and Almond Balls on a Sunday evening, so I can have sweet treats throughout the week.
Also, don’t feel the need to make all your healthy food from scratch. Stock up on store-bought items that can curb between-meal cravings, like nuts, pickles, low-sodium turkey breast, almond butter and salad greens.
When you’ve got an arsenal of healthy meals and snacks available in advance, you’ll find it much easier to make time for healthy eating.”
“Slow is fast. As paradoxical as it might sounds, utilizing a slow cooker, which sometimes requires upwards of 6 to 8 hours per meal, will save you loads of time while bringing you great satisfaction.
This is because slow cooking is almost entirely passive. Moreover, these machines are designed to be completely safe to operate while you are at work or out running errands.
Slow cooking also opens the door to a wider range of meats, particular the delicious, tougher cuts, which require longer cooking times, and which, incidentally, are generally less expensive than the tender, quick-cook cuts. Buy a slow cooker and learn how to use it. I have dozens of slow-cooked pork, lamb, and beef recipes on my website to get you started. Click here to see more.”
“One tip that comes to mind is to always have something healthy to snack on to prevent yourself from becoming ravenously hungry. When hunger gets out of controls, it can be much harder to stay on track and you may end up binging.
Healthy snacks that work well include whole fruits, nuts and healthy meat or fish jerky.“
“My best tip to make time to eat healthy on a busy schedule is to throw out the rule book and learn to be more flexible about what “eating healthy” looks like from day-to-day.
I think one of the reasons people “fall off the wagon” of eating healthfully is that their lives are always changing, yet most “healthy eating tips” allow very little room for flexibility and intuition.
“Rules” are very seductive, especially to women with body image concerns, but the reality is, that 95% of the time, rules fail us — we can’t stick to them — because life doesn’t bend to our rules. Intuitive and Mindful Eating can be very helpful with this, and I talk about it quite a bit in my free guide: How To Not Eat Cake…Really Fast, Standing Up, When Nobody’s Looking.”
“My number one tip for making time to eat healthy on a busy schedule is to plan, plan, plan! Take time on the weekends to plan a menu for the week (check out my Menu Plan Monday posts for inspiration and sample menus) and make a grocery list to go along with it.
This way you know exactly what you’re cooking and you buy exactly what you need for those meals, without getting sidetracked at the supermarket.
The meal planning process should take no more than 30 minutes, especially if you base the meals on what’s already in your fridge and pantry, what’s in season and on sale at your supermarket, and any recipes you may have pinned or saved from magazines.”
“Never miss two in a row. I realize we all have busy lives, and things happen, but I’ve added this rule to my life that has kept me on track despite a hectic lifestyle.
I always have to apply this rule after travel when I’m exhausted with very little time. I know that if I miss a day on my workout or eat an unhealthy meal, suddenly making a bad choice the next time is even easier.
So, when I’m traveling, I NEVER miss two in a row.
If I was supposed to work out on Monday but due to travel had to skip it, I would work out on Sunday, and then again on Tuesday. If I have to eat an unhealthy meal, then my NEXT meal that same day suddenly becomes the most important meal of my life, and it has to be healthy.”
“The morning is when I have the most control over my day, so I try to make all my smoothies and other light meals after I wake up.
Preparation and intentionality have helped me out a lot in making sure I do proper self care each day (although some days I miss a meal, but still always get my smoothies in!).”
“Make food shopping as easy as possible. You have to have healthy foods in the house to eat healthy, so find a way to shop that makes it as painless as possible for you.
Personally, I like using CSA deliveries and grocery shopping services like Instacart.
Avoiding crowded grocery stores and getting my food dropped off at my door gives me extra time for actually cooking and enjoying the food — the things I like best!”
“If there is something that keeps us on the run every day is coffee. Coffee seems to be our fuel. In fact there is now a company called Bio-Bean that is actually making fuel from waste coffee grounds.
However, we are not a car, our bodies work in much more intricate ways and thus in order for us to thrive we need nutrients. Nutrients come from food and the highest quality of food will give us the best possible nutrients to help us race through our day.
Eating to maximize our day doesn’t start from eating whatever we can grab; and having a packed schedule is just one more reason to fuel correctly.
I have always believed in being proactive. If you know that your tank is half empty and you are planning a long trip make sure to make a quick stop to refuel.
When it comes to food choices don’t wait to feel ravenous to eat. You will choose the wrong fuel.
This means that eating before you are too hungry or packing a small healthy snack that you can eat when you are out of fuel, is key.
We make the best choices if we plan ahead. In Oprah’s words, “Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment”.
“The best tip is to plan ahead! Take an hour to meal prep on Sunday and save time all week long.”
“My best tip is to always have snacks packed in your bag – a bag of almonds and a couple Larabars are my go to.
That way you one, aren’t reaching for snacks that don’t nourish or satiate you, and you don’t go into the next meal starving and therefore end up eating more than you intended.”
“When you know your schedule is going to be extremely busy, plan and prep your food so you have healthy food available when the chaos begins. For example, make 5-10 snack bags over the weekend so during the week you have healthy snacks to grab-n-go.
Another tip, on Sunday, batch cook a meal such as a soup, casserole, or enchilada, so you have 1-2 pre-made dinners to heat up and eat during the busy week. When you have a plan with a little prep, you can still eat healthy on a busy schedule.”
“Eat the same thing consistently, and batch the preparation. It might sound boring at first, but it’s actually very mentally freeing.
You don’t have to worry about what you’re going to eat next, or whether it’s going to be healthy and you’re going to stay on track with your goals.
You know what’s coming, it saves time grocery shopping and in preparation, and it just becomes second nature.“
“If you’re on a tight schedule, meal prep is your best friend. It only takes an extra hour or so over the weekend but can save tons of time throughout the week.
I like to pre-chop some veggies, make a batch of hummus for healthy snacking, and a big batch of soup that can be reheated throughout the week.
Look for freezer-friendly meals that you can make in big batches ahead of time – your busy weekday self will thank you!”
“Food prep! Spending even an hour on Sunday prepping food can make a huge difference in allowing you to get healthy meals on the tale quickly during a busy week.”
“Keep it simple and plan ahead. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated. You just have to do a little bit of planning. Being prepared is key.
I take about 15 minutes each night (that’s not long at all!) to prepare my meals and snacks for the next day.
Sometimes I’ll make a simple and healthy recipe that I can use for my lunches for the next few days. I have easy on-the-go snacks that I pack for work so that I have healthy options when those afternoon cravings hit.
Don’t overcomplicate it. Find some simple healthy snacks you can add to your meal plan (home-made trail mix, fruit, string cheese, etc.) and find simple healthy recipes for lunch and other meals that you can pack with you.
Eating healthy really can be simple…as long as you are prepared and take a little time to plan ahead!”
“Make sure you have healthy food around ready to go. When time is short your natural reaction is to grab whatever is quick and close by.
There are mostly unhealthy options if you want fast food, hence you need to prepare in advance to avoid the burgers and pizzas, etc.”
You’ve got this
These pro tips are from moms, entrepreneurs, food bloggers, authors, and registered dietitians, all busy people that have made their health and well-being work with their schedules.
You can start eating better today too, right now.
These are ways you can start implementing this advice right away:
- Plan what you’re going to eat tomorrow. You don’t have to do the whole week, just tomorrow, for now.
- Find a green smoothie recipe you can make tomorrow for breakfast with produce you have right now at home.
- Find a healthy recipe you really want to try and schedule to make this one meal on Sunday so you have leftovers for at least a couple of days of the week. A soup, stew, or chili would be great.
- Make a mental note to stop by the grocery store today to buy healthy snacks you can take to work, such as almonds, apples, or nuts.
- Make an intention of making your next meal as healthy as possible.
My favorite tips? Making green smoothies and Steve’s “not missing two in a row” rule.
Making green smoothies feels almost like cheating. You can get a lot of goodness in just one glass of blended greens and fruits.
Not missing two in a row is an excellent way of not getting discouraged. You don’t have to eat perfectly every single time. Life happens. The important thing is you don’t break the habits of going back to healthy food whenever you can.
To help you plan your meals, I made a handy printable weekly meal planner template! [thrive_2step id=’1167′]Click here to get it[/thrive_2step] 🙂
Let me know what your favorite advice is in the comments below!