When you’re busy, hungry and in a rush, a trip to the grocery store can quickly turn into a series of impulse buys, leaving you with unhealthy junk food or too many perishable items that might wind up in the garbage. Want to keep those impulses — and your weight — under control? Try this five-step program:
1. Set your budget.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans on average spend 9.6 percent of their income on food, and that includes both groceries (5.5 percent) and eating out (about 4 percent). Check how much you spend on groceries and restaurants and use those numbers as a starting point to shift more of your spending to healthier home-cooked meals.
2. Plan a menu.
This not only answers that stressful question, what’s for dinner?, but menu planning also allows you to use up what’s already in your fridge and gives you a good outline of what you need to buy for the week. You’ll be less prone to impulse purchases— which makes it easier to stick to a budget. Be sure to include a leftovers night in your meal planning to eat up odds and ends of previous meals. Waste-free Wednesdayor free-for-all Friday, anyone?
3. Prep for the week.
Spending an hour or two each weekend on meal preparation makes it much easier to create healthy mealson busy weekdays. Slice carrot and celery sticks, or bake a batch of whole-wheat mini muffins for snacks. Wash and chop salad greens for quick sides or lunches. Cook time-consuming foods, such as dried beans (which are cheaper and allow you to limit sodium from canned beans) and brown rice.
4. Be a frugal chef.
Not every meal needs to be a five-course affair. You can make a quick dinner by mixing precooked grains with roasted vegetables and a lean protein, or by making an omelet with your prepped veggies. You can also jump on the “sheet pan dinner”trend: Toss some fresh veggies and a lean protein with your favorite spice blend, place on a cookie sheet, and roast until your protein is thoroughly cooked, generally about 20 to 40 minutes.
If, despite your careful planning, you end the week with
extra ingredients that may go bad, freeze them. Berries, mashed avocados and bananas, chopped and blanched fresh vegetables, and even baked sweet potatoes can go in the freezer (in airtight containers)for easy meals at a later date, according to the National Center for Food Preservation. Freeze them in portions needed for meals, and label each storage bag or container with the food’s name and the date you froze it to avoid mysteries.
Do you have nutritional questions? Tennova Healthcare – Clarksville offers a group Nutrition Weight Management Program as well as Individual Nutrition Counseling. To learn more visit Tennova.com and click on the Events tab or call all 931-502-1127.
This publication in no way seeks to diagnose or treat illness or to serve as a substitute for professional medical care.