We’ve all been there. You wake up, do a couple of chores through the house, have a cup of coffee, and start responding to emails. All of a sudden it’s 2 p.m. and you realize you haven’t eaten yet.
You might be tempted to order food delivery or grab anything left in your pantry or fridge. But most of the time, those aren’t the healthiest options or provide a well-balanced meal replacement.
Times like these happen often, even when working from home, but you can still have a healthy meal on hand when you’re in a pinch.
Here are some tips and ideas for quick and easy meals on busy days.
Meal Prepping and Planning
For busy weeks, preparing your meals ahead of time is great because you’ll have meals ready on hand for the next 3-4 days, saving you lots of time and energy that could be spent more productively.
Having meals already made can also keep you from making less healthy food choices when you’re stressed or in a hurry.
Meal prepping can be done a few different ways, but the most common are either preparing complete meals or the components of a meal.
Complete Meal Prepping
Complete meals can be pre-portioned and made ahead for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Although this might take some extra planning time to create your menu for the next 3-4 days, it’s worth it for those who just want to grab, reheat (if needed), and go.
Here’s a Sample Meal Planning Menu:
- Breakfast – frittata muffins, chia seed pudding, greek yogurt parfait
- Lunch – mason jar salads, burrito bowls, chicken wraps on whole wheat lavash
- Dinner – Turkey Bolognese with zoodles, chicken curry with rice or whole wheat pita, chicken stir fry with cauliflower or brown rice
The only drawback of preparing complete meals is the lack of variety some people crave. Although some don’t mind this in favor of saving time in the future, others may not find it as appealing to have the same meals for 3-4 days in a row.
This is where meal component prepping comes in.
Meal Component Prepping
Meal component prepping is best for those who like more day-to-day variety. The idea is to prep ingredients that can be combined in different variations, as long as there is one option from each category (protein, vegetable, and optional carb) like in this Meal Planning Guide.
You can pair your custom bowls with different sauces and dressings to go with what you’re craving (e.g. soy-based sauces, salsa, bbq, tahini, or your favorite salad dressing).
Examples of Meal Component Prepping:
- Protein – turkey meatballs, oven-roasted chicken, hard boiled eggs, braised tofu
- Vegetables – roasted veggie medley, pre-washed spinach/salad greens, spiralized veggies
- Carbs – Sweet potatoes, whole wheat or legume pasta, brown rice, quinoa
Side note: you’ll have to remember to portion as you go, so that could be more challenging for those who need more structure.
Fill your fridge and pantry with healthy snacks
The snacking bug tends to always strike on the busiest days. Although it’s best to have a complete meal before reaching for any snacks, here are some healthy snack options that can keep the urge to snack at bay:
- Hard Boiled Eggs
- No-salt or low sodium deli meat
- Cheese (if you can tolerate dairy)
- Pre-cut veggies
- Whole Grain Sprouted Bread or crackers
- Air popped popcorn
- Greek Yogurt
You can pair these together to blend in a smoothie, make an open faced sandwich, or throw on a plate for a quick and easy grazing board. The goal is to pair protein, fat, and fiber, even when snacking.
Here’s a list of make-ahead meals and snacks that you can have ready during the week.
If you must order, choose wisely.
Food delivery apps like Uber Eats, makes it possible to stay healthy when ordering in. Just look under the “Healthy” category when browsing for food, and these restaurants should provide some good options for meals.
Be mindful that even “healthy” restaurants can use added sugar, oil, and sodium in their cooking that can really add up in calories or cause bloating. However, you can always make a note to have sauces and dressings on the side, so you have more control on how much goes in.
We’ve covered the best ways to stay eating healthy even when you’re too busy to cook at every meal.
If you need help ordering in, you can always message your Yes Health coaches and they can guide you on the best items to choose. They can also help come up with meal prep menus for you when you’re in need of some inspiration.
Try Yes Health free for 14 days and see what your coaches recommend for you.
Yes Health is a low-cost, weight loss and diabetes-prevention program committed to helping everyone live healthier, happier lives.