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When Life Gets Hard, Make It Easy

June 14, 2009

One of the hardest parts of eating healthy is trying to find the time to actually DO it.  We both work in relatively demanding jobs, and we both have activities that take up our time outside of work (Marc plays tennis and is in a band, and I often have to work late nights or weekends and I have a Little Sister of my own).  Despite these commitments, we do try to make (almost) every night a night where we cook.

Plan, plan, plan ahead!

Plan, plan, plan ahead! (can you read my handwriting?)

Not to sound cocky, but a lot of people have asked us how we do it — especially after a long and taxing day at work.  I guess the best line of defense for a busy lifestyle is the fact that we both LOVE to cook and find that chopping/prepping/cooking is extraordinarily relaxing.  We have lucked out on that front.  However, even with the best intentions, we sometimes get waylaid if we aren’t planned out enough.  At the beginning of the year, we decided that we’re going to take turns figuring out the week’s menu — one week, Marc plans the entire menu, then one week I plan the entire menu.  It sounds a little ridiculous, but you’d be surprised how much more interesting our dinner options have been when we take turns at the helm.  Call it competition or just creativity, but it’s nice to not have to come up with the same-ol’-same-ol’ every week.

We also plan our meals realistically, knowing what it is that we need to do, and on what days, and then create our meals accordingly.  So, if Marc has practice on Monday, we dont plan an elaborate meal, but rather something that one of us can throw together, while the other one takes the dog for a walk, so that we can maximize our time together before he leaves.  (Veggie burgers usually do the trick on those days!)  Marc and I also take turns cooking — even though we plan our menus alternately, I’m more than happy to let Marc cook on the weeks I plan my meals and vice versa.  It divides the labor well, and neither of us feel overworked.  Beyond that, we also use lots of time-saving cookbooks (like Cooking Light Weeknight, and  Make It In Minutes), which really focus on making things easy, fast AND light.  Before we did Weight Watchers, we tried a few of Rachael Ray’s recipes, but honestly, they’re a bit heavier than we have point-allotment for.

Pre-cut fruit

Pre-cut strawberries

Another thing that we have started to do that saves time is preparing fruit and veggie snacks ahead of time.  As far as snacking goes, sometimes it gets monotonous to eat the same old apples, oranges, and pre-packaged baby carrots all the time.  In order to mix it up while remaining budget conscious, Marc and I have started to buy seasonal fruits and other veggies ahead of time, prepare them and store them ahead of time.  This allows us to be a little more adventurous with our healthy choices, and we can easily take what we want from our stash throughout the week.  Plus, when you’re looking for a snack in the refrigerator, it’s just as easy to grab pre-cut fruit as it is to grab an ice cream sandwich.  I also have frozen fruit in the freezer (just from the bagged stuff at the grocery store) that I grab for dessert sometimes.  I particularly enjoy eating frozen mango, because it’s SO dense, that sometimes you think you’re eating sorbet instead of chunks of fruit.

What are your favorite ways to save time (and a little money), while still eating healthy?  It’s not always easy, but I always feel better when I do it.

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