Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Stuck in a Rut?

You know those little nagging thoughts that creep up while waiting in the drive through

line? -“Ugh, this stuff can’t be good for me.” “What am I teaching my kids?” “Here I go blowing the food budget again.” “Something has got to give.” “This is not the rut I want to be in.”

 It happens to all of us. The busy rush of day-to-day life often crowds out one of the most important parts of the day - meal time. So, what do we do in a pinch? Hit the drive through, grab a pizza, or order take-out. Something that used to be an occasional indulgence is now part of our regular routine. We know better, but DOING better is the tricky part. Start Small! Don’t overhaul everything all at once. Pick one meal each week, or each day, and commit to eating at home, or brown-bagging it on a regular basis.

Have a Plan. If you wait until 5:00pm to think about your dinner plans, chances are your dinner is waiting under a heat-lamp somewhere. Start asking yourself, “What’s for dinner?” a lot earlier. Even get a little crazy and plan a weekly menu.
Write it down so you can do the small prep work ahead of time. You can pull something out of the freezer, or toss something in a crock pot in the morning.

Grocery Shop. This is where the rubber meets the road. Make a date with yourself to grocery shop on a regular basis. Plan simple, quick meals that include the basics: lean meats, fruits and vegetables, whole grains. Avoid pre-made meals or TV dinners that contain unnecessary calories and sodium.

Keep it Simple. Don’t plan fancy meals. Let’s be honest, the stuff you have been picking up isn’t too fancy either. Choose foods on the perimeter of the grocery store (excluding the donuts), that is typically where the fresh items are. What’s a simple meal? Try grilling some chicken or steaming up a quick vegetable. It doesn’t take long to prepare healthy food at home. Maybe even less time than it takes to run out and grab something.

Walk on the Wild Side. Try new things. Break out of your old routine and see what else is out there. Try a new recipe once a month and see if it can make it into your regular rotation.

Use Paper Plates. While not always environmentally friendly, neither is all of the packaging that your fast food order comes in. Make your meal clean-up at home a breeze by simplifying a bit, at least while you transition to eating at home more.

Cook Once, Eat Twice. One favorite tip would be to cook more than you would eat at one meal. Put the leftovers in the fridge to use for another meal. For example, grilled salmon on Monday could lead to fish tacos on Wednesday. Or a roast in a crock pot one night can mean a quick roast beef sandwich on another night. Get rid of your guilty conscious by getting reacquainted with your kitchen at home. Your meals will be healthier, your family time can improve, and you will save a few bucks in the process. Start small, you can do it!

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