Healthy Eating in the Fast Lane

You only have 30 minutes to get dinner on the table. It has to be quick and easy—and healthy, of course. Don’t let your busy schedule get in the way of good nutrition. Make a satisfying supper in record time—and stay within your budget—when you think F.A.S.T.

Frozen: Frozen meals have come a long way since the old-fashioned TV dinner. Today, you‘ll find healthy frozen meals low in sodium, free of preservatives and full of taste. Before you buy, read the Nutrition Facts on the package, paying attention to serving size, total calories, sodium content and sugar and fat sources. (Tip: multiply servings per container by total calories to determine how much of the meal satisfies your daily caloric needs.)

Ahead of time: Prepare your meals ahead of time and cut costs, calories and stress. When you prepare your own food, you control the ingredients, and the portion sizes. Set aside time on Sunday to plan next week’s menu. With list in hand, purchase only the foods you need for those meals and snacks. Save time by knocking out some of the prep-work in one session: Cut up raw vegetables for stir-fry, or divide trail mix and other bulk snacks into bags. This way, when you’re packing lunch, you can just grab and go!

Semi-homemade: Cook with a mix of fresh and prepared foods to save time. Homemade tomato sauce is delicious, but is it necessary? Spare time (and labor) without sacrificing quality by incorporating all-natural and organic prepared foods into your meals. Here are a few semi-homemade cooking ideas:

–          Use jarred organic tomato sauce for pasta or pizza.

–          Canned vegetable purees, such as organic pumpkin, are great with pasta dishes or baked into desserts (no carving, dicing or slicing required!).

–          Instant rice is an instant crowd-pleaser. Use it to stuff peppers, bulk up soup or just as a side.

–          Toss organic dried fruit pieces into tossed salads or stews, or use in baking recipes.

–           Use pre-cooked chicken breasts, canned salmon or canned tuna to save time preparing and cooking meat.

Take-out: Some nights, even a microwave meal is too much of a hassle. Surrendering to takeout is OK on occasion. To help ensure you’re choosing the healthiest options, gather up your restaurant menus beforehand and circle the best entrees. Keep these tips in mind:

–          Red sauces and soups are better than creamy versions.

–          Skip the cheese, or substitute avocado for cheese when possible.

–          Request dressing on the side.

–          Avoid fried foods. Go for steamed or grilled entrees and side dishes.

–          Request un-buttered bread—whole wheat, if they have it.

–          Try dividing meals in half before you eat, saving a portion for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner. This will help prevent overeating.

When you’re constantly on the go, it’s natural to reach for the nearest food in sight—candy, fast food or processed vending machine snacks. But these foods don’t provide the fuel your body really needs. Think F.A.S.T. to eat healthy when you’re in a hurry—and nothing will be able to stop you!

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By: +Elizabeth Lotts writer for