As much as I love our real, unprocessed, from-scratch foods… I just can’t cook from scratch 100% of the time. I am fully convinced that our unprocessed diet is the best thing, but I’m also all for some grace when we need it! 😉
There are so many things that can throw a monkey wrench into my well-laid plans, but I’m slowly learning how to keep some good nutrition coming, even when I need to cut corners.
When I know in advance that life is going to get crazy (in the weeks leading up to a due date, for example), I start doubling what I cook and freezing half of it. When the craziness starts, I can just pop some delicious and healthy food into the oven! This isn’t just for dinners, either. I also like to make breakfasts and snack foods to freeze.
This is a great habit to get into (still working on that!) so that you have something easy and healthy on hand for unexpected emergencies. Check out this post for ideas, recipes and tips when freezer cooking!
This is great for lunch or dinner! There are so many things that can easily be included in a snack-style meal. Keeping an assortment of these types of foods can be a real lifesaver on busy days. For a list of ideas, check out my post on snack-style lunches!
Fast food can be such a temptation when you’re going to be out (or in the car) all day. You can’t cook away from home, but you can plan ahead and take some nutritious foods with you! We usually do this for trips to the zoo, going on hikes, long car rides or anything else that will have us away from home (and the kitchen) for more than a few hours. Here are some of our favorite take along foods!
Healthier Convenience Food
When all else fails, I buy convenience food from the grocery store. I try to choose the healthiest version possible (that I can afford), which means “all-natural” and “organic”. That isn’t always available, but I do the best I can. I read the labels to make certain that there are no additives, such as artificial color, flavor or preservatives. I avoid MSG like the plague (bad reactions!).
Often, we will “doctor-up” a store-bought meal. For example, adding roasted garlic to sauces or extra cheese, herbs or spices to meals.
Wondering exactly what I buy? Here are some examples!
- All-natural frozen pizza: This certainly isn’t full of great nutrition, but several affordable brands are available without any additives.
- Fresh pasta: In our local grocery store (Safeway), I just discovered all-natural, organic filled pastas in the chilled section next to the cheese and produce! There are sauces to go with them (pesto, for example) and they are quite delicious. They are expensive, so this will be a very rare treat, but it would be nice to buy a few on sale and have them stocked in the freezer for those rough days. 🙂
- Prepared veggies and hummus: Just read the ingredients and make sure that there aren’t any bad preservatives and that the hummus is made with olive oil, not vegetable or canola oil.
- Prepared fruit: Again, make sure that there aren’t any bad preservatives. You can dip them in…
- Yogurt: I love to make my own yogurt from raw milk, but that doesn’t always get done. When I need to, I buy full-fat yogurt (organic, if possible).
- Bakery bread: If I can’t make bread, we will sometimes get freshly made (preservative-free!) bread from a local bakery. This is extremely expensive, so most of the time we’ve been going without. Another good option would be whipping up a few quick breads.
- Eggs: No, these are not a compromise food, but since we got our own laying hens, eggs are just so convenient! Yes, they do need to be cooked, but that is a quick and easy thing to do, so I don’t see them as something that requires a bunch of effort.
- All-natural frozen food: We almost never do this (except for the pizzas) because anything that I’d feel okay about eating is insanely expensive! If I really wanted to get a few of these, I’d watch for the chance to combine coupons with sales. For all that effort, I’d rather just double one of my meals and freeze it, though! 😉
What are some of your favorite ways to cut corners while still getting some good nutrition?