Set your day up for diet success

We’re entering the final week of National Nutrition Month, and we hope you’ve enjoyed our tips for going further with food. For our final official NNM post, Abby Stemen, RD, shares her go-to tips for packing up perfect portable options for breakfast and lunch. If you leave home before the sun comes up and don’t come back until it’s time to dish up dinner, this post is for you.
The hustle and bustle.

It’s no secret that Americans live busy lives. Between work, errands, after school activities and endless commitments, many people find it difficult to make time for healthy meals. If you wait until meal time to figure out what you’re going to eat, you may find yourself running through a fast food drive-through, grabbing snacks out of the vending machine at work, or skipping meals altogether, which may cause you to overeat later in the day. Bad habits such as these can have a negative impact on your health and your wellness goals. The good news is, with some advanced planning and preparation, it is possible to make quick and easy breakfast and lunches that are healthy and also taste good.

Prep for success.

Planning ahead really is the key to eating healthy. Try to keep some of your favorite quick and healthy recipes handy to refer to as you create a detailed and organized grocery list. Think through your schedule for the week and be careful not to choose complicated meals that you won’t have time to prepare. Then, when you get home from the grocery, take time to cut up fruits and veggies to keep on hand to snack on or to use as ingredients for quick, healthy meals. Otherwise, you may find the produce you bought with good intentions still in the refrigerator at the end of the week. 

Start the day right.

Getting breakfast in the morning should be a high priority, for so many reasons. Often in a rush, the Huffington Post recently reported as many as 31 million Americans skip the first meal of the day entirely. It doesn’t have to be so hard! Here are some simple ideas to get you started. 

Breakfast ideas:
  • Prepare breakfast burritos with eggs, cheese, salsa, veggies or beans to keep in the fridge, ready to be heated
  • Top a whole grain waffle with peanut butter and fruit
  • Make one large pan of baked oatmeal or an egg casserole that you can cook once and eat for multiple mornings
  • Scramble eggs with pico de gallo
  • Make a quick smoothie full of fruit, yogurt, oats, peanut butter or protein powder.  There are so many recipes to choose from online!  Cut up fruit the night before and set out your blender or food processor to save yourself time in the morning.
  • Try a quick fruit and yogurt parfait with granola
  • Make avocado toast and try adding an egg, tomatoes or other vegetables
  • Overnight oats are a very popular breakfast idea with hundreds of recipes available online
Midday dishes.

It can be difficult to stay on track during the lunch hour. A series of meetings can mean a lack of time to get something sensible. Your friends might be meeting at the local diner. Maybe a coworker kindly brought in a box of your favorite donuts. There are a million excuses to grab something processed and empty at noon. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Check out these suggestions.

Lunch ideas:
  • Pre-portion salads full of veggies and lean meat or beans for protein
  • If you have more time to cook on the weekends, make plenty of leftovers to use for lunches.  Make sure to portion out the leftovers into lunch containers right away.
  • Throw some chicken breasts and chicken broth in the slow cooker on Sunday, then use the chicken throughout the week for salads, soups or sandwiches
  • Make a batch of hard boiled eggs each week
  • Keep staples such as tuna, nuts and seeds in the pantry
  • Mason jar salads are a great way to prepare multiple lunches in advance.  There are recipes available online for all tastes and preferences.  Here’s a great one to try:
Mexican Black Bean Salad with Chili-Lime Dressing in a Jar

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
½ teaspoon dried ground cumin
Pinch red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Chili-Lime Dressing (recipe below)
Cooked brown rice
Black beans
Red onions
Halved grape tomatoes
Chopped cilantro
Chopped romaine

1. Combine all Dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Close and shake until emulsified.

2. Layer the Salad ingredients in the order they are listed above and store until ready to enjoy.

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