One thing that a lot of people have issues with when it comes to eating well, is the cost. I'm a huge fan of Diary of a Mad, Fat Woman, and her most recent post is what has inspired this one.
Everyone who tries to lose weight always has an excuse - It's too hard, it's too expensive, it doesn't taste good . . . You know who you are (and yes, I am just as guilty as you are some days).
Well, here are some great tips that will help you off-set any time or cost issues you may have for eating well.
1) Buy in bulk, cook in advance. Buy 2 lb bags of brown rice and cook it all at once. Portion it out into 1 cup servings in freezer bags and store it in the freezer for those nights when you want to do a quick and easy stir fry or skillet meal. Do the same with chicken breasts - in some stores, you can buy 5 lbs of boneless, skinless breasts for about the cost of 2 1 lb packages. Buy it, cook it up, and store it for later use. This can also be done with ground turkey, whole wheat pasta, even veggies!
2) Make the most of your time. Of course you can't cook a pork loin and veggies when you get home from work. But you can make something quick and easy. Even a spaghetti dinner can be made healthy by switching from white pasta to whole wheat, using ground turkey instead of beef, and bulking up your sauce with some mushrooms, onions, peppers, or spinach (or, you can do what I do and add all three!).
3) Invest in a crock pot! A crock pot is an ESSENTIAL part of my life - I use it at least once a week, sometimes twice. And it's just made for low-fat, low-cal cooking! All those cuts of low-fat meat that dry out easily? Stick them in the crock pot with some veggies, a little broth, and set it and forget it! Remember that pork loin you didn't have time to cook? Well, now you do!
4) SOME packaged products are okay - in a pinch. For example - you can find good low-fat and low-sodium cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soups. Add some brown rice, veggies, and a protein and you have a great casserole! If you don't have time (or think you don't, anyway) to cook brown rice for an hour, go ahead and use the quick-cooking variety. It has the same nutritional value and a fraction of the time. Just be sure to read the labels to make sure there's no added sugar or fat!
5) Vegetables are surprisingly cheap. Even more so if you buy them frozen, in some cases. You can buy stir fry mixes for a fraction of what it would cost to buy all the veggies separately - and there's little to no waste since it can be stored in the freezer for up to a year!
"But Jen, how can I make dinner in a hurry for my family in between work, PTA meetings, soccer, cheerleading, swimming, supper club, book club, and the church auxiliary?"
There are SO MANY options for just that. I have a secret formula I'm going to share with you. Ready?
1 lb meat + 1 1/2 c Brown Rice or Whole Wheat Pasta + 1 C broth or water + 1 can cream soup or tomato paste + 2 T seasoning of choice + 1 1/2 c fresh or frozen vegetables of choice + 1 deep sided skillet + 20-30 minutes = a skillet meal for four fit for a family of four. : )
For example - use ground turkey, brown rice, beef broth, tomato paste, taco seasoning, peas and carrots and you have a taco skillet meal!
Use chicken, pasta, chicken broth, cream of mushroom soup, thyme, and mushrooms for an out of this world mushroom chicken skillet.
The possibilities are endless. The benefits - YOU KNOW WHAT'S GOING INTO YOUR FAMILY'S TUMMIES! Unlike the packaged products, where you can't even pronounce half the items.
So, NO MORE EXCUSES! Eating healthy does NOT have to break the bank OR take up your time!