A five dollar latte here, an eight dollar salad there, a fresh bakery cookie now and again…All of these small charges add up, in terms of dollars and calories. Even “low-cal” or “diet” foods are chock-full of preservatives, not to mention the prices of these individual portioned snacks. Your body, and your wallet, do not need this.
Listen, we know you’re pressed for time, we all are! But you don’t want to sacrifice convenience for the added body fat, and disease risk factors. We only get one body! Let’s give cooking at home a chance and see how it will shrink our waists and fatten our wallets. Here are three steps towards making this happen:
Start with breakfast: We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We’ve noticed that eating a unhealthy breakfast sets the tone for an entire day of terrible eating. Conversely, a nutritious and filling breakfast means that you will probably eat that way the rest of the day. Try eating oatmeal sprinkled with flax seeds and fruit for breakfast, as well as Greek yogurt or toast with peanut butter. You also want some protein in your first meal of the day. Eggs are an obvious choice here, but if you don’t have time to scramble an egg with some bell peppers and toss that into a whole wheat wrap, then consider boiling a few on the weekends and munching on one straight out of the fridge.
Beat the lunch crowds: Always forget to bag yourself a lunch? Don’t want to mess up the kitchen you just cleaned after dinner? The best way to make sure you will have a lunch made for the next day is to just cook extra that night and bring the leftovers. Of course we don’t expect to you give up grabbing lunch with the co-workers once in a while, but limit yourself. If you are really having trouble adjusting to not grabbing lunch out, you could start off with brown bagging it two or three days and then going out the remainder of days- anything helps as long as you kick start a good habit. Keep track of how much you spend on your lunch and think about what you could have done with that money. It might be useful to spend a little more on groceries, and then make lunches that you look forward to eating. What about a big fancy salad with the good blue cheese and bib lettuce? Or a hearty, simple soup with cannelloni beans and a chunk of quality baguette? Think quality over quantity.
Stock Your Kitchen: Have you ever noticed how some people can just throw together dinner in just under an hour, or even less? Why does is it take you so much planning? These people have identified their staple ingredients, the things the whole family enjoys eating and that can make a lot of meals. We like to keep on hand whole grain pastas and jarred sauces, frozen vegetables such as peas, canned stocks and broths, Idaho potatoes, eggs, a frozen chicken, and low-fat cheeses. It is tough to spend extra time and money cooking food that just can’t compare to the take-out you’re avoiding. So keep it fun, and cook what you love.