Category: Healthy Lifestyles


When it comes to eating well, the general school of thought is that you “should” make everything that goes down the hatch from scratch. Not necessarily! Convenience foods can have their place in a healthy lifestyle. Eating healthfully is a spectrum…a multi-faceted, complex, and very personalized spectrum.


finding a place for healthful convenience options in a busy life


It’s important that you find a place in the midst of all these factors that works with your lifestyle, not against it. If you want to eat entirely home-cooked-from-scratch but you’re a single parent with 2 jobs and 3 kids, it might be a challenge to bake your own bread every week. It’s important that your food choices fit well with your entire life, and remember that it’s not all-or-nothing. Have you ever felt like it’s not worth trying to be healthy if you can’t “eat clean” 100% of the time? That’s bogus. Sometimes you sacrifice a little nutrition for sanity. If the alternative is doing nothing, then doing something is definitely a better option!

Also remember that your place on the spectrum is a fluid concept that can change from month to month or even day to day. If life happens and pushes you towards processed for a few days or a week, it’s not the end of the world! Hang in there and keep doing the best you can. When things calm down, you can head back in the direction you want to go.

In the meantime, whether you’re very busy every day, extra-stressed for a few days, or your entire life is just a whirlwind, having healthy convenience options can make eating well much, much quicker. Here are a few of the most useful, versatile, and cost-effective convenience foods.



Prepped Proteins

Eating healthful proteins can be one of the most challenging areas to maintain when you’re busy since many proteins need preparation (not to mention all those times you forget to take something out to thaw, darn it…that’s not just me is it?). Prepared proteins can be just the ticket to ease this burden.

Into this category fall canned meats like chicken, tuna, and salmon, canned beans, and frozen pre-cooked meats or meat alternatives. Cans of meats or beans can be tossed in with a salad, eaten with some whole grain crackers, dumped onto nachos, or mixed in with pasta, rice, or a casserole. Since they are all already cooked, just dump and mix!


Bagged Salads

Several brands have begun making pre-made chopped salads complete with dried fruit, dressing, sliced nuts, or other toppings. Most have a delicious Asian sesame version, fruit-and-soft cheese version, and more. The flavors are delicious and these salads certainly are convenient. If you’re unlikely to make a salad on your own or are tired of your lettuce getting slimy because you never get around to chopping it up, these can be a lifesaver! Use them as a side dish or top them with a prepared protein and add a piece of fruit for a complete meal.


Tomato Sauces

These versatile beauties are great to have around for any time you haven’t had a chance to meal plan. With a few spices, they can quickly turn into a pasta sauce, chili base, or pizza sauce on a pita or tortilla pizza. Try to find a “No Salt Added” version to reduce the added sodium – then you have control over the salt that is added.

Check out my recipe for a 5-minute Heart Healthy Pizza/Pasta sauce using canned tomato sauce! 



Frozen Vegetables

So many of my clients tell me that their biggest challenge with eating healthy food is that preparing vegetables can be so time-consuming! Washing, peeling, chopping, and cooking vegetables is just enough work that it discourages them from actually eating vegetables! For days when you didn’t get to your food prep and you just don’t have the time to take those veggies from whole to roasted, a bag of frozen veggies can be such a lifesaver!

These come individually (think frozen broccoli, carrots, or peas) or in pre-made combos like stir-fry blends, California blend (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots), and Normandy blend (zucchini, carrots, yellow squash, broccoli, and cauliflower). Keep a few of these in your freezer and have a veggie side dish in 2-3 minutes with no prep at all.


Quick Oats

When your morning doesn’t allow for the process of simmering steel-cut oats, quick oats can get you a dose of whole grains in a flash. Microwave them with water for a minute or pour boiling water over them. Mix with some fresh fruit, a scoop of peanut butter, and a couple teaspoons of brown sugar or stevia and you are good to go! Homemade instant oats contain less sugar, more fiber, and more nutrition than the instant packets and take the same amount of time.



What are the go-to convenience foods that help you maintain a healthy lifestyle?

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Eating Well in Less Time Wellness Tips

quick and easy health tips for busy moms


For the next article in my series on Eating Well in Less Time, I’m sharing a guest post with you from Scott Reid at Focus Performance. Scott is helping out today with a list of health hacks (related to both nutrition and fitness) for busy moms. Enjoy!


Busy moms are often running around after children, working, running the household and trying to do 15 things at once – which can mean the person they need to look after the most is often the last one to get any attention – the mom herself.

Moms are notorious for putting themselves last, but if a mom is not in tip top condition herself she won’t be able to look after everyone and everything else which she has on her to do list. That’s why we have compiled a list of health hacks which busy moms can do as part of their daily routine to stay healthy.

You can also check out these motivation tips related to fitness from Focus Performance.


Adapt your routine


If you used to work out every morning before heading out to work, but are now tied up getting children up and dressed and heading out for school before your workday starts, then don’t just give up on your work-outs.

Try moving your routine around to adapt to your new situation. Make time to work-out in the evenings instead, or if you have help at home then assign 2-3 mornings where you don’t have the child responsibility and can work-out instead.


Try new exercise programs


If you used to go out running for hours every evening to keep fit but can’t do this post-baby, try some different types of exercise programs instead. Perhaps join a gym which has a day care so you can take your children with you, or invest in a jogging stroller and take your baby out while you jog.

It might be that you can go to a mom and baby yoga class or even try exercise DVDs at home instead of what you used to do. It’s all about adapting to fit your work-outs in with your new lifestyle rather than just giving up and not bothering at all.



Walk more whenever you can


Walking every day can really make a difference to your waistline, without costing a penny. If you have a young baby, walk out with the stroller, or walk them over to day care instead of driving. If you are at work, try walking out at lunch time and you really will see the difference.


Join local mom fitness groups


Check out local fitness groups aimed at or run by moms where there will be day care facilities or stroller options available. It’s a great way to improve your health while also adding to you and your child’s social life and fun as well.


Batch cook healthy meals for the freezer


Try planning your time so that you have space on the weekend to batch cook healthy meals which can then be frozen, ready for the week ahead. Perhaps on a Sunday evening while the children are asleep, try batch cooking things like chilis, curries, sauces and burger mixes which can be frozen and then microwaved in the week.



Make your health a priority


Don’t make excuses not to do the healthy food cooking or to skip your exercise routine. Make your health a priority and never feel guilty for putting yourself first when you need to. A healthy mom, leading by example, leads to healthy happy children and families.


Do family fun days for exercise


Family fun days like going out cycling, swimming or even a day in the park playing baseball, is great fun and gets everyone exercising together. If everyone joins in it can become a real family effort and make being healthy and exercising just part of what the family does for fun, rather than being seen as a chore.


Get your shopping delivered


Save time by getting your shopping delivered rather than having the stress of dragging your young children screaming around the shops. It also gives you control over your cart with no temptation for impulse purchases or bargains – you can select only health options to add into your basket and keep the food shopping under control.



Be kind to yourself


Take it easy and be kind to yourself – when you have a lot to juggle and deal with as a new mom it can be quite daunting to be careful, listen to your body and just ease yourself into the new health routine. Don’t rush and don’t try to do too much too soon.


Don’t be too goal-focused


Trying to stay healthy as a mom is a challenge in itself, so don’t set yourself weight loss or inch loss goals for this type of program. Just aim to complete your exercise regimen and keep up the healthy eating so you are looking after yourself and being a good example.

Being a busy mom and keeping healthy can go hand in hand as long as you are willing to adapt your routine to fit your new circumstances. Be kind to yourself and don’t try to take on a hugely ambitious fitness challenge – but with these hacks you will be on your way to staying healthy.


Scott is a sports and fitness writer and writes full time for Focus Performance. When not in front of his computer or spending time in the gym you can see him hanging out in his favorite coffee shop devouring the latest Stephen King novel. 


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Eating Well in Less Time Wellness Tips


Have you ever watched a cooking show where they try to pass a delicious healthy recipe off as a “20-minute meal”? You get all excited, ready to take notes and make this healthy kitchen masterpiece a reality, until you notice that as they are cooking, somehow all of their vegetables are already magically diced, their meats trimmed and cut, and their herbs and spices pre-measured? And then – big surprise! – the whole dish is done in 20 minutes or less! All they had to do was dump this, brown that, stir this in, and the whole creation was complete.

If you’ve had this experience and you’re anything like me you feel lied to. This was not a 20-minute meal. This was a 20-minute meal preceded by 10-15 minutes of peeling, chopping, dicing, and measuring which, again, if you’re anything like me, is the least enjoyable part of cooking.

Many of my clients struggle with this – they buy fresh veggies with perfect intentions of using them. But after a long day the thought of all that prep before they even get to cooking sends them, defeated, to that bag of freezer ravioli (or the corner fast food joint) and their produce one day closer to the garbage.



So how can we bridge this gap? We want our food to be healthy, and we need it to be quick and easy. Can we have both?

My answer is pretty much, yes. I’m not going to lie to you and say it’s not going to take any time and I certainly can’t hire a magic kitchen for you like the Food Network hosts have, but I can share the trick that has helped make healthful cooking SO MUCH FASTER for me.

That “trick” is food prep. Food prep is different than meal prep, where you actually cook and portion out individual meals in ready-to-go containers. If you have sufficient time and don’t mind eating the same meal for a few meals, meal prep is a great option! If you like a little more variety or can’t spare an hour or more for meal prep each week, give food prep a try!



Basically, you are your own magic kitchen. When you bring your groceries home, set all your produce (and your meats, if you really want to go for the gold!) on the counter. Put everything else away.

Now you get out your cutting board and knives (once!), and some containers. Chop, slice, and dice your little heart out. It usually takes 10-20 minutes, depending on how many veggies are in the recipes you’re using that week. Put them in containers based on the recipe they’re for. If we are having burgers, I slice tomatoes and onions, lay out lettuce, and put a handful of sliced mushrooms on a plate. If we’re having stew, I cube potatoes, chop onions, and slice carrots and seal them in a container. Then you clean up your cutting boards and knives (once!) and you’re done chopping for the week.

Note: Make sure that if you trim and cut raw meats, you prep them after you’re done with all your produce and that you store them in separate containers if they are uncooked!

Aren’t they pretty?

Now, when it’s time to cook, you can pull your container out of the fridge, dump this, brown that, stir this in, and your healthful meal is ready to go – just like the cooking pros!

For a demonstration of food prep and a recommendation for one of my favorite food prep kitchen tools, click here!

Have you ever tried food prep? Do you like it? Hate it? Let me know in the comments!



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Eating Well in Less Time Wellness Tips

quick and easy meal planning tips for beginners


I can’t even count how many of my clients come in asking me how to meal plan. Whether you’re on a tight budget or a tight schedule, making a meal plan can be a great way to simplify a healthy lifestyle. For beginners though, meal planning can feel like a daunting task that takes more time than it saves. It can seem overwhelming at first, but some simple steps can streamline the process and make it much easier. Not to mention that meal planning is like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it gets! After you have a dozen meal plans under your belt, you’ll be whipping them out in minutes and saving yourself tons of time (not to mention moolah!).


1. Decide which meals will be planned


Meal planning doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. Some people plan three meals a day plus snacks, while others find it works best for them to plan dinners and buy a variety of breakfast/lunch/snack ingredients. Choose what will work best for you. One mistake many newbie meal planners make? Forgetting about leftovers. If you have leftovers from Monday’s dinner but every meal is planned for the week, you’re increasing the likelihood of food waste. One easy solution is to implement a “use it up” day. At my house, we do “Whatever Wednesday” and “Scrounge-it Sunday.” This gives you a day (or two!) off from cooking and a chance to clean out the fridge and prevent food waste (saving time and money)! Planning these days into your meal plan can simplify the process and make it more practical.



2. Choose a “jumping point” (or three)


This is where a lot of folks get stuck – where do I even begin to come up with meal ideas? It’s important to consider what’s going on in your life to make sure that you set yourself up for success. Check out these “jumping points” to help you tailor your meal plan and give you a little inspiration.

  • Your schedule – Look at your week. Got a full Wednesday with a late meeting and your kid’s recital? Make a note on that day on your meal plan and choose a slow cooker meal or something you can prep ahead of time (or better yet, leftovers from Tuesday’s dinner!). Work with your schedule, not against it.
  • Your budget – Sales are a great place to start! Find the weekly ad for your grocery store online and list the deals. Use a search-by-ingredient database to turn these cheap eats into healthful meals. A couple of my favorites are the Food Hub by the American Diabetes Association and Healthy for Good by the American Heart Association. Plug in the ingredients that are on sale that week (Pork loin? Brussels sprouts? Shrimp?) and find healthful recipes to make with them.
  • Vary your proteins – If you eat all things meat, choose one meal each of skinless poultry, lean pork, lean beef, and meatless, two of fish, and one wild card. Vegetarian? Rotate between beans, tofu, meat alternatives, tempeh, and/or seitan.


3. Select your meals


Select your recipes – family favorites or newbies – and list them out. If you’re more of a Type-A planner, assign them to a day so you’ll know exactly when you’ll make them. If you’re more a flexible, type B, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type (or you just like having the flexibility to choose what you feel like eating each night) choose however many meals you will need for the week and take your pick day by day.


Free printable meal plan worksheet with shopping listFree printable meal plan worksheet with shopping list


Use this FREE printable meal planning template to help you out.


4. Make a shopping list


As you go, add any ingredients that you don’t already have to your shopping list. Tack on any staples or household essentials (don’t forget the TP!). Want to save wandering time in the store? Divide your list into 4 sections: fridge/freezer, aisles, produce, and household/other. Pick up items from each section before moving on to the next.


5. Shop!


Now you have a meal plan for the week and a shopping list to get you there. Planning your meals will help you save time and money not only at the store but throughout the week, since you will already know what you’ll be making and you will have all the ingredients you’ll need (and not ingredients that you won’t)!


6. Optional: Consider food prep


Less work than meal prep (where you cook and portion all your meals ahead of time), food prep takes only 20-30 minutes per week and makes cooking much quicker and more fun. Ever seen the TV cooking shows where all the hosts have to do is dump in all their prepped ingredients and cook? It’s pretty great and you can cook that way too! Check out this video for a tutorial on food prep. If you choose to incorporate food prep, make a quick list with your meal plan so you remember which food prep steps you plan to do.


Go forth and plan! And remember, any new change is going to be baby-deer status at the start: wobbly, awkward, and unsure. That’s normal! It will feel awkward and the first few times might take a while. Keep trying! You might find that certain parts of meal planning make sense for your life while others may not. You might find that a different approach or method works better than these or than methods that worked well at other times of your life. My process is constantly evolving as my life changes or as I find bigger and better ideas! Just be sure not to give up on meal planning until you’ve given it the old school try and had a chance to find your rhythm.


Good luck and let me know if you have any great meal planning tips to share!



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Eating Well in Less Time

…and the healthy lifestyle I’m going to feature next is…



Thank you for voting! It looks like you’re all lookin’ to live healthy lives on tight schedules. I hear ya! Stay tuned, because I’ll be dropping tips for saving time over the next few weeks!

Eating Well in Less Time

It’s time to start another feature, and this time I’m adding a new category of features: healthy lifestyles!



This category includes tips and advice on living well within different lifestyle factors: kids, tight budgets, tight schedules, picky eaters, you name it! So now is the time to vote. Which factor should I feature to help make your healthy life easier?


Eating Well on a Budget

We’ll talk about every trick in the book for making a healthful lifestyle as cheap as possible. It doesn’t have to be crazy expensive and often it’s actually cheaper than buying “cheap” junk food! I’ve been playing around with cutting our food budget while keeping it healthy for years, and I can tell you it’s possible to eat well on a tight budget (and I can show you how)!


Eating Well in Less Time

We are all busy! A tight schedule can leave little margin in our day (not to mention our energy) for keeping up healthy habits. Let me help you find healthy habits to streamline your life and make healthy work for your mind as well as your body.



Eating Well and Reducing Waste

For most American households, the vast majority of our trash bins are full of food waste and plastic food containers. A few easy swaps can significantly reduce the amount of food-related garbage in our landfills and be healthy for the planet as well as for you.


Vote in the poll below to let me know which feature is most helpful for you!



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Healthy Lifestyles