I know a lot of people that go through a cycle of jumping on the healthy eating train full force with special diets and then falling back off. Truth be told, I have certainly been there myself. It's not that we don't want to eat well, but there are so many road blocks that keep us from staying on track. The concerns are legitimate: busy schedules, getting your family on board, money, and more.
Sometimes though, I feel like that we over complicate healthy eating. I know when I start to struggle it's often because I have made it difficult for myself and I have to take a step back and remember my number one tip for how to stay on track with healthy eating.
Keep it Simple
Really this is it. Simple food.
Forget your foodie ways for a while and just get back to the basics. This is hands down the best way to stay on track with healthy eating. I don't know about you, but when something seems complicated, I get overwhelmed and become paralyzed by all of the steps. Then before you know it, I'm asking my husband to just go pick us up some "better for us" takeout. Not sustainable! It hurts my wallet. It hurts our health. It hurts my waistline.
So what does this look like?
Well for us it looks roughly like this:
Take ten minutes to make a quick meal plan for the week.
- Eggs: They cook on a griddle incredibly fast and are full of nutrition. Please use real eggs and do not cook in margarine or fake industrialized oil. Add some quick cooking vegetables or leftover meat and vegetables if desired for a blood sugar balancing start to your day.
On the go? Boil several hard boiled eggs for the entire week. Take some grab and go snacks along with you as well like avocado, fruit, nuts, carrots, celery, and nut butter.
- Pancakes or Waffles: Make a big batch on the weekend and throw them in the toaster or toaster over to be reheated throughout the week. Seriously quick and easy. And please don't make them with a mix. They are just as easy from scratch. Wheat based or Gluten-free oat pancakes.
- Oatmeal: Again, make a big batch of oatmeal and reheat throughout the week. Skip the instant oat packets full of additives and fake sugars and use rolled oats with butter or coconut oil, and top with raisins, fruit, nuts, and maple syrup or honey.
No time in the morning? Make an batch overnight in your slow cooker that will be ready for you in the morning.
- Smoothies: Smoothies are very fast to make, no recipe needed. Blend some yogurt, frozen fruit, greens if desired, and a banana together adding more liquid if needed. You have a quick and easy on the go breakfast.
Still too complicated or time consuming? Try these freezer smoothie packs from Live Simply.
Big salads: Have chopped up salad greens on hand at all times. Doing it yourself if is by far the cheapest option, but if that is too much work, Organic Girl makes great bins of salad greens that you can just grab and toss in a container.
Top salad with leftover protein from the night before: chicken, pork, ground beef, beans, chickpeas, lentils, etc.
Leftovers: Get used to liking leftovers. It's the simplest way to eat a decent lunch and avoid eating out. Right after dinner, portion the leftovers in containers for your family and the hard work is done for you.
Big batch of soup: Especially in the colder months, it's a great idea to use your leftover chicken or beef bones to make a beautiful mineral rich stock and stuff it full of vegetables and protein like meat or beans. It's a complete healthy meal in a bowl. Eat it throughout the week or freeze individual portions for quick grab and go lunches for work.
Snack plate: This is the lunch of choice of my daughter. Simply little bits of this and that are what she prefers for lunch. Examples are hard boiled eggs, apples and sun butter, jerky, lunch meat, fruit, veggie sticks, nuts/seeds, etc.
This is where we tend to really over complicate things. No need for fancy. Just stick to this basic plan for a quick, easy and healthy dinner.
- Easy protein of some kind: Whole chicken, pork chops, ground beef, pork or beef roast, fish, shrimp, beans, legumes, etc. Use quick cooking meats like ground beef, shrimp, pork chops, or cut up chicken. For larger cuts of meats like a whole chicken or a roast, use your slow cooker so it cooks during the day and is ready for you at night.
- Vegetable: Consider quick cooking vegetables that can be quickly sauteed or roasted in the oven in fifteen minutes. Also don't be afraid of just slicing up some raw vegetables and fruit and calling it a side dish if you are in a huge time crunch. Salad is another quick and easy vegetable side dish.
- Carb: fruit, grain, starchy vegetable
Chicken in the crockpot, roasted broccoli, mashed potatoes or cauliflower
Pan fried pork chops, honey glazed carrots, salad
Pork roast in the slow cooker, roasted vegetables, mashed sweet potatoes
Shrimp stir fry, rice
Tacos or taco salad
The possibilities are endless, but the key is to get into a routine that is easy for your family. If you adore the slow cooker, use it! If you do better with quick cooking fifteen minute dishes like stir fry or skillet meals, the by all means, use that method. Keep the ingredients simple, the methods simple, utilize your leftovers, and streamline breakfast.
The more you establish simple routines, the easier it will become over time. You are establishing habits. Habits take time to develop, but not as much time as you think.
You can do this! Eating healthy can become routine and sustainable for your family!