Picture this: It’s Monday morning and you’re already running late to work. You don’t have time to cook the egg white omelet you planned, so you run out the door and look to the closest place to find food. But usually what is available are not the healthiest options. Lucky for you, we have five easy tips to help you prepare for a quick grab-and-go meal next time you’re in a rush.
Decide on a meal plan for each day at the start of each week
Meal planning is a great way to not only save time and money, but also to minimize dieting errors. If healthy foods are prepared in advance, there is less space for last minute decision making (which can lead to impulse buying of cookies and chips.) Make sure that there is a source of protein and a complex carbohydrate with fiber in each meal. Try to incorporate the same protein or vegetable from dinner the night before to save on extra cooking.
Freeze blended smoothies in muffin tins
Smoothies are a great breakfast option, but pulling out all the ingredients in the morning can be a hassle. For an easy and mess-free on-the-go breakfast, try frozen smoothie muffins! Blend up your fruits, greens, chia seeds, and protein powder ahead of time and freeze in muffin tins. When you are ready for your smoothie all you have to do is blend a couple of the frozen “muffins” with unsweetened almond milk or water and it is ready to eat.
Overnight oats in a jar
Oatmeal is a great option when you are in a rush. It is a good source of fiber (try for high fiber oat brands that have >4g per 1/2 cup serving). To save on the cooking time in the morning, use portable jars to create the perfect oatmeal the night before. Fill your jar with half a cup of oats, one tablespoon of chia seeds and fill with almond milk until the oats are covered. Add your favorite toppings like almonds, cinnamon, flax seeds, berries, or almond butter and let sit in the fridge until the next morning and it is ready to enjoy!
Assemble mason jar salads
Similar to the oatmeal jars, mason jar salads are the perfect quick lunch option. Start assembling your salad jar with your dressing at the bottom. Use thicker and sturdier vegetables on top of the dressing (great examples of that would be beets or peppers.) Add all of your toppings until you get to the top of the jar where you will add your leafy greens. If you are storing the salad for days, a great tip is to add a paper towel square on top of the leafy greens to absorb moisture so your salad does not get soggy. When you are ready to eat, shake all the ingredients and enjoy.
Make snack bags
Most people will throw a protein bar or an apple in their bag to snack on throughout the day. Switch it up and make perfectly measured out snack bags. It’s important to keep in mind that snacks are used to keep your energy up until your next major meal. Choosing snacks that are high in fiber and protein are a great way to make sure that you will stay satisfied and full while keeping portion control in mind. Some great options are raw almonds and dried fruit, hummus and carrots, or fresh fruit with low fat string cheese or almond butter.
Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The F-Factor Diet and The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber.