Happy New Year! Each New Year brings with it new resolutions for many people. Do any of these sound familiar? I want to lose weight. I want to eat healthier and feed my family more healthy foods. I want to save money. I’ve made some of these resolutions myself. But I know that making changes, especially with food, can be particularly challenging. Want to know the key to success? Start small. That’s it….just start with one small change and go from there. Here are 7 way to get you and your family headed in the right direction. And it won’t be too long before you’ll feel healthier and enjoying eating nutritious foods!
Take a look in your refrigerator and pantry. These are two areas that are critical to maintaining a healthy diet. If it’s expired or unhealthy, trash it and replace with healthy staples. These staples can be used to make a quick, tasty and nutritious meal. Always having fresh fruits and vegetables on hand along with healthy snacks makes it easy to make good choices when hunger strikes. Here’s a list of some healthy staples for the well-stocked kitchen that I keep on hand.
Select Budget-Friendly Superfoods
Superfoods are great to add to your diet because they contain higher concentrations of nutrients per serving than other foods. The bad new is that some of these superfoods come with a super price tag too. But you can add these superfoods to your diet without breaking the bank:
- Dark green, leafy vegetables: kale, spinach, collard greens, mustard greens, and turnip greens. All are excellent sources of fiber, folate, vitamins A and K as well as antioxidants that contribute to heart and bone health. They may even help prevent some forms of cancer.
- Broccoli and cauliflower: cruciferous vegetables contain antioxidants that are believed to reduce the risk of several cancers. And they are low in calories and high in fiber and vitamin C.
- Berries: berries are great when you need a sweet treat. Not only are they naturally sweet, they also contain healthy nutrients such as fiber, vitamins A, C, and E, and calcium and potassium. They are also loaded with the antioxidants that may help reduce the risk of heart disease and prevent diabetes.
- Beans: legumes including kidney beans, black beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas and lentils are inexpensive sources of meat-free protein, fiber, folate and potassium.
Having to answer the dreaded question of “what’s for dinner” every day is tough. Planning your menu ahead of time helps save time and money in addition to making sure you have healthy meals to provide your family. I’ll admit that I don’t usually plan my own meals. I have been using eMeals for several months so they do my planning for me and even give me a shopping list. For less than $1 a week, they do all the work for me. I save more money than that by not buying food that doesn’t get used and I don’t have to think about dinner at all. eMeals will even let you try it free for two weeks to see if you like it! The meals are delicious and it couldn’t be easier! Even if you’ve got a special diet like gluten free, vegetarian, or paleo, they’ve got a plan for you!
Pile on the Veggies
Most of us need more vegetables in our diet. The amazing thing about vegetables is that they are naturally low in calories and high in fiber, so you aren’t as hungry. To add more veggies to your diet, fill half of your plate with vegetables instead of calorie rich carbs and meat. Adding fresh or dried herbs and citrus juice to veggies adds extra flavor with no extra calories. Want to know what veggies are in season? Check out this list and get the best selection of fresh produce.
Pack a Lunch
Packing a lunch for school or work can help save time and money along with helping to avoid the afternoon slump.
These tips can help you create healthy, delicious lunches that will keep you far away from the dangers of fast food:
- Pack leftovers to stretch your food budget and add variety to typical lunches. Try repurposing leftovers into a new dish. Use leftover cooked pasta, add some salad dress and vegetables and you’ve got a delicious pasta salad. Combine leftover cooked meat with veggies and make into a wrap. The possibilities are endless!
- For kids, use cookie cutters to make fun shapes out of sandwiches. Add lots of colorful foods like fruits and veggies with salsa, peanut butter or hummus for dipping. Finger foods are fun for kids to eat.
Go for Good Fats
Did you know that not all fats are bad? That’s totally against everything we learned during the fat-free craze of the 70s! Certain fats are actually healthy and may even reduce your bad cholesterol and lower your risk of heart disease. Ditch the butter and bacon grease and opt for olive, coconut or avocado oil. Here is a handy guide that can help you pick the right oil for your cooking.
Swap Out Soda
Soda and sugary drinks are only empty calories; they contain absolutely no nutritional value. If you’ve never looked at the nutritional labels on soda, you’ll want to read this and this to find out what’s really in soda. Ditch the soda and reach for calorie-free beverages like water or sparkling water. Just add a splash of lemon, lime or cucumber for flavor.
What other ways do you have to help your family eat healthy?