Often we find ourselves short on time. Either life overall is busy or we get thrown for a loop due to unforeseen circumstances.
There are some easy ways we can still set ourselves up for success for meals and snacks even with limited time.
It’s not about being perfect or having the perfect balance every time we eat but we can have decently healthy options available so when there’s no time, it’s already there. Being short on time and hungry without anything healthy already ready is a recipe for disaster. This is when we are at our weakest with rational decision making in regards to food.
SO. As often as you can, set yourself up for success. A little bit of forethought can go a long way.
Here are a bunch of ideas for you to consider, hopefully at least one or two of them could work in your life and make it easier and healthier 😊
Plan ahead - I know, this is tips for when you’re short on time but make the time to spend a few minutes considering the week ahead - when are those times that you will need grab and go food? What’s your evening schedule? When are you going to the gym? Do you need snacks or meals ready to take with you or is there somewhere nearby you know you can get a balanced, healthy meal or snack? Set yourself up in advance. If you know Wednesday night is tight on time, cook extra on Tuesday night for Wednesday, for example.
Keep an ongoing grocery list – as you run low on items during the week, write them down so when you sit down to write your weekly shopping list, you already have most of it done. And then when you shop – stick to the list (see next item).
Don’t buy junk food – be mindful of the snacks you have in the house. Fruits, veggies, eggs, nuts/seeds, yogurt, deli meat and cheese are some healthy options.
Get pre-prepped when you can – getting things (especially produce) already washed and prepped saves time. It may cost a bit extra but if you can afford it, the time savings may be the difference between having veggies and skipping them. See next item as an example!
Bagged salad kits are the best! Just add protein and you have a meal.
Buy frozen – always have some frozen veggies, fruits and protein sources available in the freezer. Not only are they time savers when you don’t have time to get to the store but also they don’t spoil as quickly as fresh food.
Get your groceries delivered – it costs a little more but if it saves you time or makes the difference between having food at home or not, maybe the extra cost is worth it.
One pot meals – one thing that can be exhausting is trying to figure out all the different parts of the meal. When everything is in one dish, it makes life so much easier. Chilis, soups, bakes/casseroles all are great options.
Keep it simple – keep the flavors light and not too complex. Use simple cooking methods and use pre-made sauces and spice mixes.
Instapot – use your instapot or crockpot for easy batch cooking of lean protein. Having ready-made healthy protein available is super helpful in creating a faster balanced meal.
Keep a recipe list handy – when you have the time, peruse recipes and save ones you want to try in the future. Also keep a copy of the tried and true ones you know you like and are easy to make. Pinterest or other apps are handy these days to store recipes.
Have the right gadgets – if you are prepping in advance, make sure you have the right containers to store stuff in. If you are chopping a lot, maybe a Cuisinart would be useful for shortening prep time. Having the right gadgets can really save time.
Buffet style food prep – batch cook each component separately (starch, veggie and protein) and then put together as desired. For example, cook a large batch of brown rice. Also roast 2 pans of broccoli. And finally make salsa chicken in the instapot or crockpot.
Have at least a few good condiments – pulling from the example above, you can spice up your cooked chicken, brown rice and broccoli different ways with different condiments, making the food seem more exciting even if the same from batch cooking. Some coconut aminos and sriracha and sesame seeds for an Asian flare or avocado and salsa for a southwestern profile.
You can’t always control how your day unfolds but if you spend a bit of time here and there prepping in advance, you can reap great benefits in keeping your nutritional balance and health even when life is really busy.
Try some of these ideas and let us know how it works for you! Or share other time-saving ideas with us.
-by Jess Mullen, MS, RD
Our in-house dietician, Jess Mullen, empowers clients to make lifestyle changes. She provides health coaching through diet and exercise to help her clients meet their goals. Our Nutrition Coaching services are for FH Members and Non-FH Members.
We like to showcase our Epic Humans who are #crushinggoals. This beautiful woman pictured here is a SUPER WOMAN. She shows up at 6am, with the biggest smile on her face, hands out hugs to all who are ready to receive, sometimes on only 3 hrs of sleep, and does the work. She never complains, whines, or gives excuses. While holding down a full time job outside the home she is also a mother to two beautiful babes. Joyce has an infectious way of making you feel so loved. She has trusted us to guide her both in fitness and nutrition, and for that we are so grateful. Joyce, you make our work so enjoyable and rewarding. Thank you for being a role model for so many. We love you.
By staying consistent in my weekly workout routine at Fuelhouse and working with Jess in cleaning up my diet, I have gained so much strength and energy! I haven’t felt this good in awhile!- Nutrition Client, Joyce L.
Q: Why did you start working with Jess on nutrition?
J: “I started working with Jess in 2014 when training for my 2nd marathon. I had a 45 minute PR on my time. At the beginning of this year I reached out to Jess again due to my cholesterol being high. My doctor immediately wanted to put me on statins but I refused. Within a couple of months of working with Jess and utilizing her recommendations I was tested again. My cholesterol went from 264 to 199 and I got a bonus of losing 17 lbs.”
Q: How has your recent successes impacted your life?
J: I am raising my two grandchildren 3 and 2 and it’s giving me the energy to be able to keep up with them.”
Q: What is the biggest consistent change you’ve made to your nutrition?
J: One of Jess’s recommendations was to have a lot of pre cut veggies in the fridge all the time. And to start my work week with some sort of protein cooked in the crock pot along with some deli meats for quick and easy weeknight meals.
I’VE LOST ... 17 lbs which has been one of my biggest goals.
I’VE GAINED ... a great way of balancing my evenings and not being so stressed about how to feed my family when getting home from work and being exhausted. Instead, I have it planned out for the week which gives me more time to spend with the babies.
Dozens of our clients have already used our methodology to fix their nutrition and get results in the gym. We would love to share the proven process that has already helped over tons of clients achieve lasting results.
BBQ Pulled Chicken
by FH Nutrition Coach, Jess Mullen, MS, RD, RRCA Certified Running Coach
This is soooo good and super easy. Don’t let the list of ingredients scare you. You likely have most of them. (Liquid smoke is the key ingredient, in my opinion!)
This is another versatile protein option to make everyone happy – have it with a bun as a sandwich, serve over cabbage or greens and have a salad or with potatoes and a small salad for a nice, balanced meal. Many options to please all preferences.
1.5 pounds boneless, skinless, chicken breast
1 pound boneless, skinless, chicken thighs
½ - ¾ cup yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup honey
¼ cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons coconut aminos (or could use Tamari/Soy Sauce if you didn’t need it to be gluten free)
1 ½ tablespoons all-natural liquid smoke
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place all ingredients in the slow cooker, give it a good stir and cook on high for 3 hours. Remove the chicken, shred with two forks, then return it to the pot and continue to cook for 1 hour.
If timing is an issue, you can cook on low for 6-7 hours, then shred and then cook on low for another hour.
Adapted from recipe in “Against All Grain” cookbook.
We met Abby when she joined FH and signed up for our Epic Human Project that we hosted for our members back in January. Watching her transformation has been such an honor, we'll let her take it from here!
When you sign up for Fuelhouse you get access to well loved facilities and a thoughtful training schedule, but most importantly you are introduced to a team of enthusiastic teachers.
Jess, the Fuelhouse nutrition guru, is one of those awesome teachers - her expertise is first rate, her methodology is down to earth and approachable. After completing the "Epic Human Project" with Jess and Molly at the helm - I decided I needed a longer term look at my nutrition. Jess has welcomed me into her nutrition practice and is helping me find an attainable pathway to more body confidence. Weekly progress check ins, recognition that a we all need a treat sometimes, and positive energy are just a few of the things Jess shares with her clients. I would urge anyone looking for accountability and encouragement to schedule some time with Jess today!
Why did you start following FUELhouse's nutrition program? To build in accountability that is with another person - not an online site or a group leader.
How has your recent successes impacted your life?
Reminds me what it feels like to be putting the right stuff into my body - clearer mind, more energy, etc.
What what the biggest consistent change you've made to your nutrition?
Food prep and more consistent eating times.
Finish these two statements below;
I'VE LOST 10 lbs.
I'VE GAINED a new and growing comfort in my body and confidence.
On the 3rd Wednesday of every month we host a FREE nutrition clinic for all FH Members with Jess Mullen.
CHANGE IS HARD. YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO IT ALONE.
Here’s a little secret: if you clean up your diet, you’ll feel better. You’ll have more energy. Improved body composition. Better athletic performance.
There’s just one problem: old habits are hard to break.
That’s where we come in. We’ll help you optimize your diet and health. It’s a process and we are here to help you through each step. We know how important food is, and we’re not here to ruin that for you.
We’ll look closely at your reality–your lifestyle, your needs.
Soon, we’ll have replaced old habits with new ones sustainable for years to come.
What you can expect:
- The Benefits of long term healthy eating and exercise
- What makes up a healthy diet
- Strategies for long term success
This will be about a 1 hour clinic, if you have ever had a question about healthy eating here is your chance to get it answered.
We hope to see everyone there. Please reserve your spot in ZenPlanner.
Jess Mullen, MS, RD, Certified Running Coach, believes you can feel better, look better and perform better, even as you age.
A fast, healthy, tasty recipe from FH member Nathalie Ascher
The meatballs are full of healthy lean protein and veggies – perfect for a meal served over greens or as a snack.
NATHALIE’S TURKEY MEATBALLS
Ingredients for meatballs:
2 pounds ground turkey breast
½ container (~7.25 ounces) mirepoix mix
Ingredients for marinara sauce:
1 can (28 ounce) TJ’s Tuscana marinara
1 can (14.5 ounce) diced tomatoes
1 can (15 ounce) tomato sauce
Other half of mirepoix (~7.25 ounces)
10 ounces sliced Crimini mushrooms
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix meatball ingredients together in a bowl and make into 9-10 meatballs (using something like an ice cream scooper can help with uniform sizing).
Brown in skillet – don’t cook all the way thru, just brown the outsides.
Then transfer to a baking dish.
Use the same skillet to sauté the veggies for the marinara sauce and once browned, add the 3 cans of tomato variations.
Heat for a few minutes and then pour over the meatballs in the baking dish.
Bake covered for 45 minutes.
Serve over greens or by themselves with a scoop or two of marinara on top.
Here are two easy ways to plan a healthy plate.
1) The Healthy Plate Model
This is a simple way to visually figure what to put on your plate to make a healthy meal. We break the plate down into 3 parts: non-starchy vegetables, protein and starches. Fat is not part of the picture but make sure you include a little bit of it. It’s so dense, the amount visually is too small to make up a portion of the plate.
Non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, greens, carrots, green beans, onions, bell peppers, lettuce, etc) should fill half your plate. A protein (chicken breast, fish, turkey, pork loin, tofu, ground meat, etc) will fill ¼ of your plate. The final ¼ is filled with a healthy starch (beans, quinoa, whole grain, winter squash, sweet potato, etc). When considering the volume of fat – think of the volume of your thumb – include 1-2 servings depending on your size and caloric needs. Don’t forget to include any fat in the protein source in that calculation.
If fat loss is a goal, skip the ¼ portion of starch at least once per day. If batch cooking for lunches or dinners, a 3-compartment container can be helpful but isn’t an absolute. Portioning out the meals whether in a 3-compartment container or other containers is really important to set yourself up for success and make sure you don’t eat more than planned/necessary. If you don’t know how much you should be eating, follow the next section to help you learn appropriate amounts to better hone in total volume.
2) The Hand Model for Portioning a Healthy Plate
This is my favorite way to easily plan out what and how much to have on your plate. This can be an eye-opening experience for some people, seeing and learning that they should include more of some foods and less of others.
Look at your hand. The size and width of your palm is the amount of cooked protein you want at meals. Ball your hands into fists. You want at least 1 fistful of non-starchy vegetables at each meal. You will want at least 2 fistfuls if you skip starch. Fat is measured by your thumb’s size. 1-2 servings of fat is appropriate at most meals. If you’re smaller and not exercising most every day, stick to 1 thumb per meal. If you’re taller and exercising most days of the week, you probably want more toward 2 thumbs worth at each meal. Finally cup your hand. Look at the inside of your cupped hand – that’s the volume of starch to have. You can also have fruit (same volume) instead of starch on occasion.
Again if fat loss is a goal, pay most attention to the volume of starch and the volume of fat. Those tend to be the easiest ones to trip up healthy fat loss goals.
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions and let us know how this goes for you!