It’s been a long day at work, and you either don’t feel like cooking dinner or you just don’t have the time.
That’s where convenience food and processed food comes into play. Quick and frozen meals are grabbed on the go when there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. I mean, who couldn’t use a little more time in the day? We’re all busy with work, family, kids, etc. The thought is “if I just pick something up on the way home, then I won’t have to spend time cooking, and I’ll have more time with my family and for other fun things….right?”
Well, maybe...but what are the risks if this is repeated regularly over the long-term? I mean, once in awhile isn’t such a big deal, it’s when it’s done repeatedly. So, the deal is, most convenience foods provide little to no nutritional value and have excessive amounts of sodium, sugar, and saturated fats. They are also LOADED with preservatives, unnatural coloring, added flavoring and other substances. So, they’re not giving us what we need, and they’re giving us plenty of what we don’t need.
Eating these things regularly can quickly begin to harm a person’s health, which can lead to serious health issues. Your body is meant to process, assimilate and eliminate natural substances, so imagine the burden your body is under when it has to deal with all the junk? The body’s ability to digest these foods can be challenging, since convenience food become modified when processed.
I get the whole making-dinner-from-scratch every night thing can be a pain in the butt. It’s time consuming - I don’t disagree, and not everyone has the time to cook every night. I just want you to think for a minute though, about the costs (time, money, health) of “convenience foods” over the long-term, including trips to the doctor, missed days at work/school, feeling lousy and not to mention the effect processed foods and their plethora of toxins has on your kids when their growing bodies require adequate nutrients to thrive.
So then, what are some easy-yet-healthy solutions?
TIP #1 - Take a few hours one day a week and prepare meals in bulk (chili, casseroles, soups, stews, roasts) and you’ll have at least a day or two of LEFTOVERS for that week, plus you can freeze a few of those meals for later use.
TIP # 2 - Get a list of easy crockpot recipes (hello Pinterest!) - a little preparation the night before and you’ll be coming home to a delicious meal with the side benefit of a yummy smelling home (and again - LEFTOVERS!)
TIP#3 - Get the kids involved! If your concern is not having enough time after work/school together, make it fun and get them involved with meal prep. You’ll be teaching them lifelong skills in the kitchen and modelling a good example of healthy eating (and spending time together).
TIP#4 - Consider creating a monthly or bi-monthly menu, where you have themes over the course of a month or week….ie Pasta Mondays, Vegetarian Tuesdays, Fish Wednesdays, etc. That way, shopping and meal prep becomes MUCH easier as you go.
TIP #5 - If you absolutely must pick something up (and I hear ya, I need to do this sometimes too) try the freshly prepared meals at your local grocery store (I’m not talking about the breaded chicken and taters). They often have a variety of freshly made salads and casseroles that you can choose from and they're all ready to go.
Remember, even baby steps are a step in the right direction - so, if you manage to incorporate any of these tips this week, give yourself a pat on the back and tell yourself - I can do this….because you absolutely can.
May Anne xo
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May Anne Jordens-LaFlamme is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and the owner of "Wellness with May Anne." She is passionate about helping women look and feel their best, so they can live a more fulfilling life - without dieting, deprivation, relying on willpower or cooking separate meals for the family.