One of the biggest challenges we face today as parents is crazy, hectic schedules. It has become very easy to “just keep up,” not plan ahead and eat on the go from quick convenient drive-thru that are less than ideal for nutrition. These choices keep our kids high on sugar, and us low on energy, am I right?
What if I told you it didn’t have to be this way?
You don’t have to fall victim to gas station snacks, fast food, and processed snacks. Even with your jam packed schedule, or simply just traveling you can have nutritious food easily.
You can accomplish better eating for your kids and yourself by pre-planning for success. Here’s how:
Consider your daily errand and activity schedule ahead of time, and plan.
Knowing that you will be out of the house for more than 2 hours between meals, or over a meal time is important. If you know your schedule, you can make a plan to have everything packed. That means less stops and healthier choices.
You can either have a bag that is always packed for this situation with healthy whole food granola bars, cut or bagged pre-prepped veggies, some low fat dips, nuts, or other smaller whole foods items like bananas, apples. This special bag is always ready to grab and take with you, or you are sure to prep it the night before the busy day. Never leave home without this snack bag. In decent, non-extreme weather, it can even stay right in your vehicle. Use ice packs or lunch bags, or a small cooler to keep the items fresh.
Consider your options for road trips and airports before you get into the situation.
If you are going on a road trip, or an airplane you know well in advance. Even if you don’t, if you have done step 1 with a ready-to-go bag you could use that.
When traveling by car it is easy to pack the cooler full of even lunch, or a full meal. You can pre-cook that meal, or pre-make those sandwiches to take with you. You will not only save money, but you will be eating healthy nutritious foods. Choosing things like whole wheat breads, plenty of protein and vegetable crunchies vs. chips saves and pumps you and your kids full of nutrients your body craves. This also means having plenty of water on hand. That means start with your water bottles full, and my favorite thing to do is fill mason jars full of additional water. Then at any point you can simply pour from the jar to your water bottle on the trip and keep on moving. No need to bring more plastic and fill the car with many bottles. And the best part about this is - it’s always free. If you run out in the mason jar, on your next stop simply refill the jars from a drinking fountain or sink.
For air travel, you will need to bring your empty bottle through security for water, but you can always refill on the inside of the airport. In terms of carry on snacks, there are actually quite a lot of items allowed. Whole food items like bananas, apples, and wrapped small packs of vegetables, fruits are all allowed in your carry on or personal item. You will pass them through security and then you have the option of a whole foods snack while traveling. This helps you avoid the bagged highly processed items on the plane.
Pack items (in all these situations) that are easy to handle and eat.
There are certain foods that are just not easy to eat on the go, nor pack and handle in a car, or other travel situation. Choosing the right foods will make things easier for you and your little ones. Here are some examples of easy to grab and go healthy foods: baby carrots, cucumber slices, hummus, clementine or mandarin oranges, grapes, sliced or whole pears, nuts and raisins, pumpkin or sunflower seeds (or a seed of choice), whole food snack bars (be sure to read the ingredients and understand them), sandwiches or wraps (made with whole wheat options), string cheese or cube cheese, cut up rotisserie chicken, hard boiled eggs, and so many more!
Make the most out of technology.
It’s crazy how much tech we have available today - even on the go. Your kids have their tablets, so do you, and your smartphone of course. There are a lot of apps out there that will help you find easy healthy choices if you need to or just want to treat yourself to a meal out. There are apps for special food needs, such as finding gluten free locations (Find Me Gluten Free). There are also other apps that help you determine the calorie count, or nutritious components of meals. They can pull up many popular restaurants and their meals and tell you about their calorie counts and nutrient breakdown. MyFitnessPal is very popular and most common restaurants food/menu items are in there to review.
Make midweek meals easy.
So you are busy during the week or home, and it’s been crazy - it’s not time to give in to take out or fast food. Using a crockpot on those days where you don’t have time to cook is amazing. You can pop the items into the crockpot the evening before, or from your freezer to the crockpot after prepping over the weekend or the night before. Turn on - and when you get home you can eat a nutritious meal before heading out or relaxing.
Another option is batch cooking, and saving the leftovers. So make one meal that lasts you for 3 days. You can spread it out over the week so it’s not back to back if you like variety. This also keeps cooking only to 1-2 days a week. Relief right?
Make Healthy Eating Strategies Work for Your (Conclusion)
Whether it’s road travel, air travel, or just a busy schedule you can still plan and make delicious and nutritious food. There is no need to spend extra money, and lose your health, over it! Just a few simple tools like a cooler, a calendar/planner, some storage containers, and some prep work you can do this! Your kids won’t be begging for food from the back seat, and you all can enjoy something that fuels your body in a healthy way!
Author Bio - Kate Bryant
Kate is a health & wellness coach who works with moms who want to be healthier and make their families healthier. She has a BS and MSEd in Health Education, and runs free and paid health and wellness groups online. Learn more about her groups, and coaching at http://www.simplymindfulwellness.com.