With our current fast paced lifestyles, we often depend more than we would like to on convenience meal options. About half of our food dollar is spent on eating outside the house and at least one meal a day is eaten outside the home.
Fast food, vending machines, carry-out and gas stations all are places we grab a quick bite plus processed foods at the grocery store, and without meaning to, we are then eating meals that are high in fat, calories, sodium and low in fiber.
Planning meals and stocking our pantries and refrigerators will allow for more nutritious meals and likely will reduce the meals we eat outside our homes, along with saving a buck or two.
Ideas for planning:
- Write a menu for the week and have the ingredients on hand
- Assemble tonight’s dinner this morning and cook all day in the crock pot
- When time to cook, cook extra and freeze
- Pack breakfast/lunch/snacks the night before
- Keep on hand easy-to-grab foods
Ideas for stocking your pantry and refrigerator:
- Fruit: seasonal fresh fruit in bowl on table/ready to grab in refrigerator , fruit cups (Natural and packed in own juices), dried fruit packets
- Veggies: carrots (and low fat dip) ready to eat, wash and cut veggies for stir fry/snacking/steaming, frozen vegetables
- Dairy: (choose low fat items) yogurt cups/drinks, string/cubed cheese, milk, cottage cheese cups
- Grains: (choose whole grain) keep cooked pasta/rice in refrigerator, baked chips, pretzels, low fat popcorn, wraps/bread
- Meats and other proteins: hummus, cooked/canned beans, low fat refried beans, roasted/rotisserie chicken, hardboiled eggs, salt free nuts and canned tuna in water
Ideas for when eating outside the home:
- Choose grilled, baked, steamed foods more often and fried foods less
- Order kid sized menu items (but be wary of kid’s menu items which are often less nutritious than adult options)
- Choose low milk/dairy options vs. high sugar sodas
- Consider fruit/side salad vs. fries
- Split your order. Take home half of your meal. Share fries with the family.
- Add veggies to your sandwich. Top baked potato with veggies vs. the calorie laden alternatives (margarine and sour cream).
- Choose lean meat menu items and whole grain breads
- Choose fresh fruit for dessert. Or, split the dessert with a friend/family.
About our Expert: Becky Gonter-Dray, RD CSP LD
Becky has been a clinical dietitian at Dayton Children’s since 2000. Currently, she works in the Pediatric Intensive Care and Intermediate Care Units and for Children’s Home Care. Becky received her BS in Dietetics from the University of Cincinnati and completed her dietetic internship at Miami Valley Hospital. She is also Board Certified as a Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition. Becky has worked in adult hospitals, with the Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC), and as an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Dayton. She enjoys cooking, teaching, and working with the pediatric population. She loves dietetics because she loves food and how it can help people to perform their best. Becky and her husband Alex are proud parents of 3 children, Patrick, Matthew, and Edward.