1. Wash and prepare fresh produce before putting it in the fridge.
The best way to ensure that the fresh produce you buy will be eaten is to have it ready to go. So, instead of immediately placing produce in the refrigerator when returning from the store, keep it out and make sure you wash, peel, and cut anything that can be a handy snack. For example, peel and cut up cucumbers, wash hand fruit like apples and keep them in an accessible fruit basket, take grapes out of their plastic bag and give them a good washing before putting them in the fridge.
Make sure to pull out the prepared produce at key munching times. For my family, this is when we are preparing dinner. Our go-to is fresh blueberries; these are typically out and ready to be snacked on while we are cooking. You can also place washed and peeled vegetables on the table during dinner. Another good time to pull out prepared fruit would be after dinner to offer as a healthy dessert option.
2. Take fresh fruit and veggies along with you.
Once you have tip 1 down, tip 2 will be very easy to follow. Take some of the prepared produce with you to snack on throughout the day. To be perfectly honest, I used to struggle to eat enough fresh fruits. But I have found that if I bring them to work with me, I will gladly snack away on them as I sit at my desk.
I began small with just bringing an apple in to work; I would make sure I ate an apple every day. Now, I bring in 2-3 different fruit varieties with me and this way it is easy to eat lots of fresh fruit. Of course vegetables can also be great bring along snacks such as carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, or celery. If you are feeling really fancy (or nostalgic :)), add some peanut or almond butter and raisins to your celery to get an added protein boost.
3. Take time on days off for food prep.
This one isn’t always easy, I know it can be very difficult to find a few spare hours to dedicate to food prep on our precious days off. However, it can be a huge help to ensure meals are ready during the week, especially if you take your own lunch to work. Making sure I have something to take for lunch was the main reason I began using a few hours on Sundays to prepare 3-4 days’ worth of lunches. Later in the week I typically follow tip 4 to cover the last day or two of the work week.
4. Prepare extra portions when cooking.
If you are already cooking, it is easier to increase ingredient amounts of the current meal than to try to prepare two separate meals. You may as well double the batch size and make enough to save. This way you will have some meals ready to go for those times when you are not up for cooking. Further the extra portions are helpful for those weekends when you didn’t have any spare time to follow tip 3!
Before you serve your meal, divide a few portions out to be saved. This will ensure the extra portions are used for other meals and can also save you from overeating.
5. Keep supplies on hand.
This one is really sort of obvious, but also key to sticking to a healthy diet. How many times have you looked in your fridge and cupboard and not had vital ingredients for a meal you wanted to prepare? It can happen, but these are the times where it is tempting to verge off the healthy path so make sure to always stock up on staple items. Some of my key staples are raw nuts or tofu, lemons or apple cider vinegar, quinoa, nutritional yeast, and canned beans. As long as I have these ingredients, I will be able to quickly whip something up that is nutritious and satisfying.