I am having trouble with dinner. I had peanut butter sandwiches two days straight!
— Marta (last name withheld)
One common obstacle to healthy eating for many people is including it into a busy schedule with long work hours and/or many social activities.
After a 12-hour workday, the last thing most people want to do when they get home is break out the pots and pans and play chef for the night.
There are two scenarios worth discussing here.
If we are talking about situations where you get home extremely tired and hungry and the mere thought of even boiling water seems like a grating chore, let’s turn to frozen dinners.
They should not be your daily dinner companion, but I do think busy people should have two or three in their freezer. It could very well make the difference between having a relatively healthy dinner or greasy Chinese takeout.
Of course, not any frozen dinner will do.
I recommend most the Kashi line. The Lemon Rosemary Chicken flavor, for example, contains 330 calories, a mere 1.5 grams of saturated fat, no trans fats, a respectable 5 grams of fiber, and just 1 gram of sugar.
The Southwest Chicken and Lime Cilantro Shrimp flavors offer 80 less calories and an extra gram of fiber!
The Sweet & Sour Chicken contains too much added sugar (25 grams, or 2 tablespoons’ worth) for me to fully recommend.
Overall, you want to seek out frozen meals that contain:
No more than 400 calories
Four or less grams of saturated fat
No more than 650 milligrams of sodium
At least 5 grams of fiber
Of course, it’s also very feasible to make very quick, healthy, delicious dinners. The key is to have your pantry and refrigerator “five-minute meal ready.”
For example, always have small whole wheat tortilla wraps in the fridge.
You can then throw in a cup of sauteed canned black beans and frozen corn, half an avocado, and a tablespoon of two or salsa for a healthy, delicilous burrito in a flash. Protein, plenty of fiber, and healthy fats in just minutes!
It’s also wise to cook large amounts of healthy side dishes (i.e.: brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat cous cous) on the weekend to keep in the fridge for situations like these. They can accompany anything from grilled chicken breasts to a soy patty.
Although serious foodies will want to send me hate mail for the following suggestion, I am all about buying precut vegetables. If you’re pressed for time and can afford the extra cost, grab baby carrots, cubed butternut squash, broccoli florets, and pepper strips.
If you are busy (or simply lack knife skills) you are more likely to snack on pineapple or watermelon at night if it is already cut up for you.
Besides, as anyone who lives in a walking-centric city will agree, who wants to carry a whole watermelon from the supermarket to their apartment?
Convenience is no longer a valid excuse for ringing up Domino’s. You are welcome to give them a call every so often, but realize that in this day and age, eating healthy can be attained by even the busiest of people.