We all know we need to eat healthy, but it’s not the easiest thing to do when life gets busy. So should we abandon health and just eat whatever we want? Should we opt for the fast food salad or wrap, which seem to be healthy to the blind eye? And that box of cereal that boosts your entire day’s worth of fiber and vitamins in just one cup? Not so fast, friends!
Health foods at the store and even at restaurants may wear a false halo, but they’re not the foods your body needs or wants. You know what happens when we fill up on alternative “foods” like these that pose themselves to be healthy? We continue to be hungry because our body never really gets the raw nutrients it wants from real, whole plant-based foods. You know how awesomely full you feel once you eat a real food dinner? Not that sick feeling, but that really awesome, “I’m full but not stuffed and sick” feeling. You’ll naturally be energized thanks to real foods that contain vitamins and minerals, but you certainly won’t get that feeling from that box of cereal which will only leave you hungry an hour or two later.
There are some simple, stress-free ways to prepare healthy meals that don’t take a lot of time, money, or preparation. Here’s some simple tips to help you eat healthy all week long and save time at the same time:
1. Streamline Your Meals
A simple way to start and end your day off on a healthy foot is to streamline your meals. What does this mean, exactly. Streamlining your meals means picking simple options that are go-to options you can turn to day in and day out. They’re non-intimidating, easy for anyone to grab and go, and don’t require more than a few minutes of prep. Some suggestions are:
- creamy, soaked porridge or a smoothie for breakfast
- a hummus and veggie platter for lunch
- stuffed sweet potatoes with tomatoes and broccoli
- veggie burgers you can just bake or microwave and go
Keep these handy options on hand so you never have to think about what you’ll have to eat. Other great suggestions can be found in our abundant list of vegan recipes.
2. Keep Breakfast to Three Ingredients
One simple (and sometimes fun) trick is to just include three ingredients in your breakfast. Why? Mostly because it keeps you from feeling the need to have an elaborate meal, and secondly, it’s easy to do on a budget. Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you’d better make it count! That doesn’t mean it has to be difficult though. Here are some good options:
- banana with oatmeal and almond butter
- sprouted grain toast with cashew butter and smashed blueberries
- quinoa flakes with cranberries and shredded coconut
- pomegranate oatmeal with chia seeds
- spinach, banana, and hemp seed smoothie
See how easy that was? Three ingredients, little stress, and completely delicious (healthy) ideas.
3. Rotate Two Lunches
If you work throughout the day like most of us, keep lunches simple by having two staples on hand that you just love. Rotate them throughout the week so you’re not eating the same thing five days a week. So, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday could be your favorite veggie soup and a sweet potato, while Tuesdays and Thursdays could be a simple sandwich with hummus, avocado, tomatoes, and onions. Easy, tasty, nutritious- done!
4. Learn to Love Your Slow Cooker
Your slow cooker is as much of your best friend as your blender! You can toss everything in, go to work and there you have it – dinner is done! Use rice and other grains, veggies, sauces, and herbs and spices to make a mean dinner all in one pot and no stove duty whatsoever. A great combo is: wild rice, mushrooms, green peas, carrots, onions, garlic, and veggie broth. Hello yum, goodbye takeout! Vegan chili and stews are also excellent to make in your slow cooker if you haven’t had them already, or try some new, more creative meals to make in your slow cooker too.
5. Invest in Frozen Grains, Veggies, Beans, and Legumes
You can now buy frozen beans, legumes, brown rice, and a host of veggies in the frozen section. Don’t snub your nose at these options- they make great choices for someone who’s short on time (and even money) but that wants to eat healthy. You can steam them in the bag or empty them into a pot and pan for a quick, healthy meal.
6. Pick Healthy Pantry Items to Round Out Your Meals
Healthy pantry staples will help round out your meals and fill in the gaps here and there when you need them to. Some great suggestions that are full of nutrients include:
- no salt added cans of beans and legumes (check cans to make sure they’re BPA-free)
- condiments like mustard, salsa, hot sauce,and tahini
- herbs and spices
- whole grains, nuts, and seeds
- baking items like cinnamon, cocoa, etc.
Keeping these on hand are great for times when you want to make a meal but want it to be simple, healthy, and flavorful at the same time. Plus, if you forget to hit the grocery store on your way home, you can make a “poor man’s meal” off some canned tomatoes, artichokes, chickpeas, seasonings, and a box of wild or brown rice in minutes. It’s actually pretty good, so don’t knock it til you try it!
The best part about these healthy suggestions is they’re packed with nutrition including: magnesium, iron, B vitamins, protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates that won’t spike your blood sugar. They’ll leave you feeling nourished but not in a food coma or at risk for a heart attack like some animal-based foods may.
For more tips on how to eat plant-based when you’re short on time, check out How to Make a Real Food Dinner in 30 Minutes or Less, and 5 Simple Ideas to Fill Up on Raw Vegan Food. Now, skip the drive-thru and try some of our ideas instead!
Image Source: Quinoa and Chickpea Salad with Lime and Cilantro