I’ve always been a huge advocate of making the decision to eat healthier as a lifestyle change, not just in an effort to lose weight or look good.
I came to find that following through on that is easier said than done.
With all of the convenience of fast food and the lack of time in a day, it’s just too easy to choose the unhealthy option. Over the course of time, and through a lot of trial and error, I can finally say that I’ve come to a point in my life that I am consistently eating healthier.
Here’s how I did it:
Ok, I’m not talking about setting aside hours to cook and portion out the entire week’s meals. To me, that just doesn’t make sense when you have a family whose plans are constantly changing. I’m talking about making a menu for the week, along with a few easy substitutions for those days when plans change. Start off with writing down the recipes that your family loves and pick the ones that make the most sense to make in the same week. Simply writing down a plan will help you shop for the week and execute your healthy meals without a hitch.
Shopping The Deals
That’s where this next part comes in. If you’re like me, you plan your meals around what’s on sale. This can be good and bad, depending on what sale items you decide to buy. Look for sales on lean meats like chicken breast, ground turkey, and pork loin. Buy these things in bulk and freeze them in smaller portions to easily use in future meals. Also, look for deals on veggies and fruits and try to incorporate them into your meals and snacks. This will set you up for a successful week of healthy meal options.
At least once every two weeks, when I have that one day where I’m feeling like I have extra time or energy, I will try a new fast, healthy recipe that I’ve never cooked before. I will usually use a recipe website or simply do a quick google search for something that includes one of the lean meats I have ready in my freezer. This is a great way to expand your recipe collection and not get burnt out on your healthy meal options. Keeping it interesting is definitely the name of the game if you’re going to stick with eating healthy.
Getting A Time-Saving Appliance (or Two)
So I have always been in love with my slow cooker but there are just so many times that I’ve found myself scrambling because I couldn’t get dinner started early enough to utilize it. Recently, I discovered two awesome appliances that I never want to live without again: an Instant Pot and an Air Fryer. The air fryer is a great option for making healthy side dishes like “fried” potatoes (using olive oil) or Brussel sprouts. And let’s be real, the air fryer is also great for making your picky kids some last minute chicken nuggets or fish sticks when you don’t have time to wait for the oven.
My Instant Pot has definitely changed my life in an awesome, time-saving way. I can cook shredded chicken in record time, using frozen chicken breasts even! I can put an entire meal in it, set it to cook, and have a one pot, delicious, healthy meal in less than 30 minutes. Now, there is a learning curve for the Instant Pot, so be sure to ask others for tried and true recipes when you’re first starting out.
Growing My Own Produce
My husband thought it was a cute idea to purchase me an AeroGarden for Mother’s Day this year. Now, he knows that I can’t grow anything and that I normally have a black thumb but this was supposed to be a device that would allow even the worst gardeners to grow fresh produce and herbs. So I tried it. It’s essentially a hydroponic indoor plant growing system that sits on the counter. I purchased some lettuce pods, followed the instructions, and about 3 weeks later, I now have a garden full of ready to eat Romaine.
I didn’t think I would actually use the produce that I grew, but I’ve actually been able to incorporate it into at least 1-2 meals a week. This has been a game changer for me because I tend to omit recipes with things like lettuce because it goes bad faster than we can use it and I hate wasting food (and money). Leafy greens have been proven to be one of the healthiest foods to eat so I am so happy to actually say we’re finally eating them on a consistent basis!
Allowing Myself to Indulge
This last one is simple but in my opinion, the most important. I always allow myself to indulge every day if I want to. That doesn’t mean that I’ll eat a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s or drink a 6-pack of soda, but I will enjoy a few Oreos or a Magnum Bar nightly. If I’m craving a sugary Starbucks drink, I’ll get tall. It’s all about moderation. If you deprive yourself of the things you love, you will almost certainly fail. Really though, trying to live without the delicious food that you hold dear in an effort to be healthy is just not reasonable. You’ll either become depressed due to missing out or you’ll simply give up. Let yourself live! Just don’t overdo it.
Never Giving Up
There are so many “diets” out there and many different ways to live a healthy lifestyle. It’s never going to be a one size fits all plan. Everyone is different and every household has its own obstacles. The important thing to remember is to just keep trying and eventually, you will discover what really works for you and your family.