UNC Health Care

Wellness Wednesday: Eating Right When You’re Short On Time

Grocery store convenience foods and drive-through fast foods are rarely the best nutritional choices for you and your family. Unfortunately, they’re often the go-to staples for families short on time.

But sacrificing good nutrition quickly takes its toll, making you and your loved ones feel tired and sluggish. On the other hand, people who eat well-rounded diets and are physically active tend to be healthier, feel happier and have more energy.

A little preparation can go a long way toward nutritional success:

Build a better breakfast: Give your body the fuel it needs to power through busy days. Whole-grain low-fat breakfast bars, yogurt or low-fat string cheese are nutritious, portable breakfast options.

Have some time the night before? Consider preparing hard-boiled eggs, cutting up fruit or making a veggie-packed crustless quiche that you can eat over several days (hint: frozen veggies in microwave steam packages save chopping and cooking time).

Pack lunch with a healthy punch: If you frequently brown bag your family’s lunch, try packing leftovers or half a turkey and avocado sandwich with an apple.

Eating out? Veggie wraps or soup with half a sandwich are good restaurant options. At fast food restaurants, order low-calorie, healthy selections, such as a grilled chicken sandwich (without the mayo or sauce). Many restaurants provide calorie counts on their menus to make choosing healthy options easier.

Slow down your supper: You can slow cook a healthy meal with very little effort or prep work. Some slow cooker models will even keep foods warm if the meal is done before you’re ready to eat.

If you find the time to cook, make a double recipe-freeze the rest for next week’s dinner or use the main protein in an entirely new way (think: extra grilled chicken tonight becomes the base for fajitas or tacos tomorrow).