healthy meals

Short on time? Strategize!

The biggest obstacle I hear from people is that they “just don’t have time.” People are busy today with work, families, managing a house, and the million other things that come up.

So it’s too often that they find themselves grabbing food for convenience – food that not only doesn’t serve their bodies but that also ends up negatively impacting the family and their waistlines. This leads to further guilt and a vicious cycle begins.

I hate to see smart, hard-working, and deserving people go down the rabbit hole of convenience because they just don’t know another way. So, I’m here to help! 

Here are some practical strategies for healthy, fast, and convenient meals:

You make it:

1. Pre-cook proteins, pre-wash and chop veggies.  You can do this 1-2 times a week depending on time. I’m a fan of the Sunday Ritual, where you prep and portion for the entire week. How to do this: Simply grill or bake enough protein to sustain dinner each week. You can prep the veggies to be prepared on the spot in the evening before dinner or in advance like the protein. Heck, throw it all on the grill, especially if the weather’s nice!

2. Purchase pre-chopped veggies. If to the first point you were thinking…”Yeah, but the part I HATE is washing and chopping!” Pretty much every grocery store sells vegetables that are ready to throw in a pan, in the oven, or on a grill. It’ll typically cost you a little bit more, but it’s worth it if this is what it takes to make the right choice.

3. The 10 minute, minimal effort meal. This is one of my favorite strategies! It’s as simple as this (for meat-eaters): Rotisserie chicken, “steam-in-a-bag veggies”, and wrapped, microwavable sweet potato. Serve the chicken, grab 1-2 cups of veggies for your plate out of the bag (season if you like), and eat half the potato with a pat of grassfed butter (good Omega-3s) . And you’ve got leftovers!

4. Crock Pot meals. It doesn’t get much easier than throwing a bunch of ingredients in a crock pot in the morning then coming home to a fully prepared meal (and a house that smells awesome). Also requires minimal clean up! This is definitely easy to make in large portions, so you’ve got leftovers! Here’s a link to Healthy Crockpot Recipes.

Still not quite going to work? Here are my GRAB AND GO strategies!

5. Hit the hot bar. Have a grocery store like Whole Foods nearby? Chances are they have an awesome hot bar!

6. Healthy take-out. This is easier to find than you think.  I love Asian restaurants for this because you can almost always find grilled protein and order it with a side of vegetables (I’m a HUGE fan of tofu and veggies). You’ll typically be able to get a few servings out of it, too, so you’ve got lunch for the next day!

Believe me, I am all about convenience when it comes to food, so I always suggest making more than you need so you’ve got leftovers!

When I make food at home I keep it SUPER SIMPLE!  Check out my “go-to” smoothie for breakfast or lunch:

– 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk plus about 1/4 cup of water
– 1 fistful (roughly one cup) of Organic Power Greens from Trader Joe’s (don’t worry, you won’t even taste them, so don’t skip this step! This is a GREAT opportunity for you to sneak some good veggies into your body!)
– 1 tablespoon organic chia seeds
– 1 tablespoon psyllium husk (This is optional, but it’s a GREAT source of fiber)
– 2 scoops of Shaklee Vanilla Build 100% Grassfed Whey Protein (you can use whatever you want but check the ingredients, I use Shaklee because the quality is solid)
– A small handful of organic walnuts
– 3/4 cup of frozen organic blueberries
– 1/2 organic banana

Some people opt to make a blender-full of smoothie so they have multiple servings. This works fine, but leave out the chia seeds and psyllium if you do this because they will expand when left in liquid over time.

Once you get used to making the smoothie it takes about 5 minutes and it’s delicious and super healthy!

Try these tips out and start saving time. For more help, check out our upcoming Balanced Habits 28 Day KICK START!

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Jonathan Aluzas is co-owner of Arena Fitness, a fitness center that offers group training in Encino as well as personal training in Northridge.