Dear Holly: How can I eat out less often? -Drive Through
Dear Drive Through: Making your own food gives you control over cost, the portion size and the nutrition. Hand those reins over to a restaurant, and it may be harder to meet your health and wellness goals as well as stay within your budget. But when you are hungry, it can be difficult, even for a dietitian, to make a sensible decision. That is why you must plan ahead and create your environment to support your goals.
Have ready-to-eat things in house, in your office and in your purse. Nuts, dried fruit and healthy bars are all good choices that will not spoil or make a mess.
– Stock freezer with veggies, fruit, cooked rice, leftover soup, stew and chili so that you can thaw and eat. When you cook lasagnas and other casseroles, make double the recipe and freeze the extras.
Whole grains do take longer to cook, but freeze beautifully. I like to cook extra brown rice, quinoa and barley and freeze in 1-2 cup portions. Seal in a zip-top bag, label with the contents and date and voila – whole grains ready in a flash!
– Keep certain staples on hand so that an easy dinner can happen quickly: canned beans, including refried beans, eggs, onion, potatoes, whole grain pasta and canned tomatoes are the main ingredients for many different dishes and are almost always available in my house.
– A quick search on Pinterest for “freezer meals” will give you loads of ideas. Many of these are bags of ingredients that can go directly into the crock pot. Pour the frozen contents in the crock pot in the morning and come home to a delicious, hot meal.
– Make a list of favorite meals so that you can refer to it when you need inspiration.
– Plan meals for the week – this way you know what you need at the grocery store (and what you can skip).
– For those going to work or school, pack lunch the night before (and even pack breakfast). Our brains just don’t always work as quickly in the morning, so if lunch is already prepared, that is one less step to worry about.
Does that mean that I never eat out? Absolutely not! Eating out is part of living in this world, whether for convenience on a busy day or as a fun occasion. It is also a great way to explore new food. I do not even limit myself to the healthiest choice on the menu all the time, either. Having fun treat foods is part of living a happy, balanced and healthy life.
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What’s your question for Holly? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information and to make an appointment to work on your goals, visit Grass Roots Nutrition, LLC and BrideBod, owned by me, Holly Larson, a Registered Dietitian. Visit me online at hollylarsonrd.com and follow us on Facebook. Have a delicious, healthy day!