5 Shortcuts to Eating Healthy Weeknight Meals

As people who work in the nutrition field, it’s often expected that we are the perfect models for healthy eating. While we try our best, the struggle is real for us as well! Yes, we are more invested in food and nutrition and have the education to back up our dietary choices; however, juggling all of our responsibilities can make it hard to stay on track. Although we consider our eating habits to be generally healthy, there is always room for improvement. We also make sure not to beat ourselves up for when we fall off track. We eat on the run, buy take out or consume processed foods, and sometimes, we are not in the mood to cook and our kitchens are not perfectly organized. 

Here are our top 5 shortcuts to eating healthy when the calendar is packed: 

1. Keep your kitchen stocked with the basics

This way you can whip up meals in a pinch. We like to keep our cupboard and freezers stocked with items such as canned goods (e.g., veggie/chicken stock, canned tomatoes/sauce, tuna, beans), spices and garlic, dry goods (e.g., pasta, lentils), frozen foods (e.g., shrimp, chicken breasts, vegetables), and fridge staples (e.g., milk, eggs). When buying canned goods, be mindful of the sodium. Look for items with less than 15% daily value of sodium on the nutrition label. 

2. Don’t make things complicated in the kitchen.

The key is to use simple ingredients, particularly during the week. Skip the recipes that call for a long list of ingredients or preparation steps. If you feel like being adventurous, save it for the weekend when you have time to deal with complication. Even the simplest recipes can be delicious, so don’t feel like you need to sacrifice flavour by keeping it simple. Remember, bagged salads are just as good as cutting up your own veggies, and those grocery store rotisserie chickens are much faster than roasting your own (just remove the skin to cut out unneeded fat and salt!).  

3. Bigger is better. Batch cook.

Our favourite appliances in the kitchen are the slow cooker and the soup pot! You can make large meals that will give you leftovers for days or freeze to pull out on those week nights when you really don’t have any time to cook dinner or prepare lunch.  Choose foods that work well as leftovers (e.g., a roasted whole chicken provides various options for leftovers and the bones can be used to make chicken stock). 

Take advantage of the few minutes you are usually on Instagram in the evening before getting ready for bed. Instead of scrolling over the pictures you've already seen, take 10 minutes to prep a recipe in your slow cooker for the next day. There is seriously nothing better than walking into the house at night to the smell of dinner. Your future self will thank you. 

4. Who says eggs can only be eaten at breakfast?

There are no hard or fast rules about what you can eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner. We are huge fans of eating breakfast for dinner! It’s an easy meal to make and delicious. Eggs are one of the few foods we would deem as a 'super food'- one egg has 6g of protein for only 70 calories! Not only do eggs provide 14 essential nutrients such as vitamins D, E, A and folate, iron and zinc, one egg also contains 50% of your daily vitamin B12 which helps protect against heart disease. Whip up some eggs and grab out a bag of those frozen veggies to add as a side. 

5. Don’t feel guilty about buying ready-made food or ready-to-eat vegetables.

No one is going to judge you because you don’t make hummus from scratch or you bought a pre-made pie shell for your chicken pot pie recipe. Look for vegetables that take minimal prep, such as grape tomatoes (throw it on a salad), pre-washed salad (skip the rinse and spin), pre-sliced mushrooms (no chopping required). Alternatively, you can also buy veggies for the week and pre-chop everything at once so all you need to do is throw it in a salad or in a container to add into your lunch pack.

Our busy lives don’t need to get in way of making healthier choices, but we also need to make sure that we don’t beat ourselves up when we go off track. We hope these tips help your weeknight meal prep feel a little less overwhelming. Let us know what you think in the comments below!

xo M & K