One of the things that I think a lot of women struggle with is the ever-continuing balance act. We have a lot on our plates these days, and society has demanded that we do all the things for all the people in our lives. While this may work for a short period of time, it isn’t sustainable in the long term…as trying to give 110% in all areas of our world will lead to burnout quickly.
Today, I’d like to focus on how to balance a career with healthy eating. I was a stay-at-home-mom for 14 years before entering the work force, and during that time, even in the midst of the busy-ness with kids, I always had plenty of time to procure and prepare healthy meals for my family. (Notice I didn’t say that I always had plenty of energy! Mamas of little ones – I see you! Just because you’re home all day doesn’t mean that you’re sitting around on the couch – never in my life have I been as BUSY as I was during those years of diapers and toddlers and Legos under foot!)
But now, as a working mom, one of the most challenging parts to thriving with a healthy eating plan is simply finding the time and energy to get.it.done. I know the temptation too well of longing to pick up take out on a Friday night after a long week. However, I have learned that my gut – my entire body simply FEELS better when I nourish it lovingly and responsibly. Let’s talk about ways you can make healthy eating a priority, even in the midst of a busy career.
- Make a plan each weekend. Mealime (the app) sends a notification on the day of your choice, reminding you that it’s time to meal plan/prepare. I love that! For me, my meal planning day is always Saturday morning.
- Speaking of Saturday morning, rather than schedule myself down to the minute (which makes me crabby real quick if I feel I’m over-structuring my much-needed weekend), I instead think of my weekend in terms of “chunks.” I have a “chunk” of time on Friday night (from 4pm-9pm after work), then three chunks on Saturday/Sunday – morning, afternoon, evening. I typically try to reserve one “chunk” of time each weekend to do my meal planning, shopping, and preparing and then, I’m done! I’ve got the rest of the weekend to enjoy my time in other pursuits.
- Before selecting recipes for the week, write out your family/work calendar items. If you know you have soccer practice until 7:00pm on Thursday, then make sure to plan for a crockpot or InstaPot meal for dinner that night so you’re not tempted by the lure of the take out menu.
- After selecting the recipes you’ll prepare (don’t forget to account for healthy lunches and breakfasts, not just dinners), write down ingredients that will be needed by category and get in and get out quickly.
- As you plan for healthy breakfasts and lunches, (both of which I take with me to work) don’t forget to tune into YOUR heart. Sometimes I can get carried away by thinking that a truly healthy lunch NEEDS to be a big salad, but for my work as a teacher, lunch is often a few short minutes, and I’ve learned that I don’t always have enough time to sit and chew and chew and chew on a crunchy salad. I’ve also learned that I’m more satisfied when I eat a warm lunch rather than a cold salad or sandwich. You do you!
- OK! Now that you’ve got your groceries, as you unload them, leave out all the ingredients needed to meal prep for the week. Peel and chop as much fresh produce as possible, washing carrots and celery sticks for snacks, making up snack baggies of grapes, and spinning your greens and placing in zip top bags with a paper towel for fast and easy assembly of salads later in the week.
- After you’ve prepped your meals, it’s time to assemble them for ease of transportation. Some of my favorites are Planetboxes for a “bento” style lunch or glass containers with snap-top lids to prevent spilling. Several of my friends have loved the “salad-in-a-jar” craze and prep 4-5 salads per week in cute Mason jars. Whatever works for you, find something functional AND beautiful, because the food will always taste better in a dish that makes you happy.
Meal planning and prepping helps me stay happy – both in my gut and in my outlook – and helps me stick to my healthy living goals. Do you have any tips that make meals-on-the-go easier for you? I’d love to hear them.