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Finding Time to Eat Well #WIAW

How do you pre-plan your meals when things start getting seriously busy? Like when you are going home in under 40 days and still have upteem papers you need to write and what feels like a million things to do in between.

I know it can be hard to eat well when life is busy & hectic – I’ve been there. And sometimes it just seems easier to order take-out, heat up a microwavable meal, eat cereal for dinner or order take-out because even though it’s not all that good for you, it’s quick

I think the number one reason people tell me they don’t eat better is because of time (and money but that’s for another post).

I just don’t have time to eat well. 

Green tea and lemon water first thing in the morning to wake me up followed by my morning oats (my favourite meal of the day!). I made the oats in advance and warmed them up in the microwave. I served them with almond milk, pecans and some chia seeds and enjoyed them while looking over some papers.

And I get it. I was there and lived in this state of mind for most of my life. I would often skip breakfast at home (because I was rushing out the door), grab something like a greasy muffin on my way to class/work and pick up something easy and quick for dinner – usually in the form of take-out, something pre-packaged and microwavable from the store or something I could make super quick on the stove – and it was most often something pre-packaged or canned. There was one point in my life where I depended on Lean Cuisines and Canned Chicken Noodle Soup as a staple because they required little thought and were quick and easy. I needed to eat as fast as possible to get onto the next thing on my to-do list.

The thought of eating well was something that never crossed my mind – I simply didn’t have the time.

Pre-made chopped salad: One and a half cucumbers, two big carrots and one red pepper chopped up in advance,. Served with a sprinkle of herbs, cracked pepper, a couple tablespoons of pumpkin seeds and balsamic vinegar.

And how did eating this way make me feel? I often walked around in a low-energy haze and eventually all the rushed, processed meals got to me. I not only got sick a lot but found myself losing my concentration and not performing as well as I could at work and school. Food tasted good in the moment but I never took the time to enjoy it. The quick and nutrient-less meals filled me up only to leave my feeling hungry half an hour later.

And I know, I know, during the week we simply don’t have time to sit down and enjoy a three course meal but this doesn’t meal there isn’t time to enjoy what’s on your plate and make sure what you’re putting in your mouth will leave you feeling and performing your best.

Peanut Butter Cups
Hello, Peanut Butter Cups!

A bit of thought and preparation goes a loooooonnng way! I’ve come to making things in advance (like my lunches and breakfast oatmeal) and relying on a few enjoyable, quick and easily interchangeable dinners for a bit of variety. Leftovers are are a must during the week (it’s kind of like getting a two for one meal-deal). And I love to get/make some ‘fun’ snacks in advance to keep things interesting. 

Pumpkin Banana Bread Bars
My Superfood Pumpkin Banana Bars made on Sunday night to enjoy during the week.

So are you a Sunday-evening-make-everything-for-the-week kinda meal planner? 

Or a I’ll just grab something on the go depending on what I feel like kinda eater?

I think I lie somewhere in the middle.

Green juice
A green juice I made on the spot for an energy boost. 6 clementines, some frozen tropical fruit, chlorella powder and some filtered water blended and passed through a fine mesh sieve. Juices and smoothies keep in the fridge for a couple of days (in a sealed container) and make the perfect nutrient-packed snack!

And it’s all about finding a balance that works well for you. I still sometimes get take-out when life gets really busy and maybe have a cereal dinner about once a month (I’m only human), but relying on nutrient-rich foods that I truly enjoy throughout the day are what makes me feel my absolute best. #makingitwork.

The best quick & ‘pre-packaged’ snack.

When I find the time to eat well, I am happier, perform better at school and work, have heaps more energy and get sick a lot less.

Pasta Dinner
Hungry Girl’s Quick Pasta; Whole wheat pasta cooked with A LOT of frozen peas (in the same pot) and tossed with some chili pepper flakes, chives and a pre-made sauce.

And let’s be honest. When we eat well during the day, there is always time for a piece or two of dark chocolate at night. When in Rome, right? (Or in this case Belgium, ha!).

Dark Chocolate

 What are some of your tips for eating well & quick during the week?

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  2. Hey Ceara!
    I totally get you on this one, especially the bit about a heavily scheduled life! When I was a post grad, I would grind through my studies for hours on end and barely found the time to eat healthily. It even went to the extent that I thought eating would be a waste of time, since my schedule and deadlines were so tight! Yet, the more rubbish foods I ate, the more lethargic I felt – which actually REDUCED my productivity, and I ended up ‘wasting’ more time eating unhealthy ‘quick fix’ stuff than if I had just sat down to prepare a simple healthy meal. Needless to say, I’ve learnt my lesson!

    All your insights are SPOT ON! Thanks for sharing your views on healthy eating. It’s all totally true.

  3. I try to have things like fruit or KIND bars that I can grab when I’m in a hurry. Pre-planning helps so much but I’ve found that I still have to have a couple of quicker meals in mind just in case I’m running short on time. Also, if I know I’m going to have a busy morning, I’ll make some overnight oats that I can grab in a hurry so as not to miss breakfast. Thanks for your tips!

  4. I used to be able to meal plan better and prep a lot of our lunches and food ahead of time but it’s gotten harder some days.. I love using my slow cooker now and have found it to be such a life saver. Love your tips and I am just drooling over your gorgeous salad with all those pepitas – looks amazing!

  5. Wow, all these meals look so good, Ceara! I love having hot drinks and quick one-pot meals such as noodle soups, rice bowls, pasta, etc during busy days, sometimes a glass of red wine or a whiskey sour during the cranky days! I don’t eat breakfast that often, and usually have a big ‘brunch’. Dang, your salad looks pretty delicious with pepitas and I <3 Justin’s peanut butter cups – THEY ARE SOOOOO GOOD. Where will you be heading home?

  6. It really can be so hard to eat healthy when you are busy and in a hurry! I need to get better at it because I seem to be busy all the time these days! I cook a lot for the blog on the weekends which means that I have a lot to eat during the week which helps, but I still end up at Chipotle on the way home from work more than I would like! That pasta with peas looks so good!

  7. Love this!

    I always do my weekly shop at the weekend and do a cook up session on sundays and pre-freeze meals for the week so I prepared for the week ahead!

  8. Lovely post Ceara! I wish I was better at planning my meals. It honestly something I have never done. For me the key is to just have a stocked fridge and pantry with healthy options in it (mainly just lots of fresh produce). Oh, and to never go hungry to the grocery store or outside for that matter. If I’m hungry and not at home, I eat the worst things or drink a gallon of coffee!

    Meal planning is definitely something I want to look into…but I think there is also something so fun about pacing around the kitchen and suddenly coming up with something completely random.

    1. I love how you wing it! I am a bit like you – what I eat in the evening (unless it’s leftovers) totally depends on how I feel in the moment! ” I think there is also something so fun about pacing around the kitchen and suddenly coming up with something completely random.” <-- Me exactly! Having a stocked fridge and pantry filled with fresh fruits, vegetables and healthy snacks definitively keeps me eating happy and healthy as well 🙂

  9. Oh Ceara I am trying my hardest to loose the last few pounds I have to go but it is so hard… I really think time is a factor for be and my obsession with white flour is insane.. Maybe I should hold more accountable, I just love your ideals 🙂

    1. <3 I hear you on your obsession with flour but I've been doing lots of experimenting with almond and oat flour lately and loving the hearty flava it gives to baked goods!

  10. I do some meal prep things on Sundays, usually a slow cooker of something, that way Monday and Tuesdays dinners are taken care of. I think the big thing about eating well, even when crunched for time, is making it a priority. Much like brushing my teeth, or working out, eating healthfully is a must, so it’s just part of my routine.

  11. What an inspirational post Ceara! 🙂 I’ve definitely been there as well — thinking cramming an extra hour before a midterm was more important than eating a proper meal. There’s no brain food in instant noodles, that’s for sure :p

    I like to make food for a few days so that I’ve always got something to grab in the fridge when I’m crunched for time.

    1. Eating well while travelling is another thing altogether – it is so much easier once you’ve planned everything! Healthy snacks are key! 🙂

  12. Honestly, I’m not that busy, but I’m often just very lazy and can’t be bothered to take the time to cook a nice meal for just myself.
    I find cooking in bulk works for me. I’m on a very strict diet and weight training plan right now so my meals are very basic, but what I do for meal prep is useful for anyone. I simply lay out my veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, and brussel sprouts) on baking sheets and put my chickens in individual glass containers and bake them! The chicken takes roughly 30mins and the veggies take around 15mins (at 400 degrees) … I throw them in the oven while I do laundry or take a shower after the gym and PRESTO! Meals for the next couple of days! 🙂

    1. I know all about cooking for one and it’s def. not as fun to make a big homemade meal every-night for one! I love your cooking in bulk idea and meal prep is soo key 🙂 Those veggies sound super yummy!!

  13. I love this post! I hear it all the time, too, “I don’t have *time* to eat well”, which I always think is funny, because they’re unintentionally saying they have less time than I do.. but until they’re run their own business (make that two, if you count the blog!), they don’t know what “busy” is! Hahaha. I remember hearing that all the time when I worked a full-time job, ran a traveling burlesque troupe at night, was in grad school, and ran four times a week, doing yoga five. It’s just an easy excuse, right? You’ve given some amazing tips to help make it seem more doable! Leftovers are definitely a must! And easy slow cooker meals.. like a dal with spinach I’m working on! Yum. It doesn’t get easier than the Crockpot!

    1. Thanks for the love Cheryl! You’re busy scheduling is super motivating! Next time I think I don’t have time for something, I’ll remember – If Cheryl can make time, I can make time!!!

      And leftovers and easy slow cookers are key! Looking forward to your Dal (my fav)! Yumm!

  14. Meal planning can be so hard sometimes! Especially when things get busy and all you want to do is to come home and relax. I try to plan my meals on the weekends and then shop for what I need. If I make a salad or pasta for my lunches, I usually prepare those on Sunday and then put them in separate containers so that all I have to do is grab ‘n go during the week. Dinner is a bit harder, but if it’s a casserole or some dish that can be made ahead of time, I try to prep it on Sundays, too. I’m not able to do this every week, though I try, and find it a lot easier to eat better!

    1. I hear ya Gayle! Sometimes I just have no idea what to make for dinner 🙂 I have such respect for your meal planning skills. I love making casseroles on Sundays to enjoy during the week – especially during the Winter months!

  15. Great post! I’m totally on board with meal planning. In fact, I’m probably a little insane about it. Sundays are meal prep days (if the weather’s not good)! And I just chop chop and do more chopping. This way, I don’t have to wash the dishes, knives, and cutting boards as much during the week days. And I try to show myself some grace too….if I’m really busy, we go out for a cheap and healthy meal at Chipotle. Or if I’m sick! Love those dark chocolate peanut butter cups, never heard of that brand =)

    1. I love your dedication to meal planning Laura! You are so right, it does make things a lot easier during the week (less dishes and chopping during the week is always a good thing!). I tend to maybe meal plan for a few of my dinner’s and then get sidetracked based on what I am feeling like! Meal planning breakfasts and lunches are a must though!

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