Here’s the thing…we all have to eat. Whether we’re crazy busy, or have tons of time on our hands, there needs to be time during the day when we eat. So it’s not a matter of whether or not we eat it’s what we choose to eat in the time we have. Therefore, the goal is to find ways to fit healthier foods habits into a busy lifestyle.
Sounds easy, right? Ha!
I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but I am saying it’s doable. It’s completely possible to create healthier food habits even if your life is crazy busy.
Since changing my lifestyle I’ve learned a lot about time management and the concept of busy. I know what it’s like to work 40+ hours a week with little kids and I also know what it’s like to work from home with tweeners. I spend my days working, trying to keep a house in order, driving my kids all over creation, and then I try to fit in exercise and a few healthy meals. Trust me, I get it. We’re all living some sort of busy.
However, if there’s one lesson I’ve learned along this weight loss journey of mine is in order to create change in my life then change NEEDS to be a priority. It can’t fall to the back burner because “I’m busy”.
I’ve learned that I can’t let “busy” and “no time” control my days. If I wanted to be serious about losing weight then I needed to control my time so eating healthier meals becomes a priority.
Here are 8 ways I did just that…
#1. I learned to control my chaos or hot zones.
I’ve said this 1000s of times, but I’ll say it again. Healthy choices are never made in the hot zone. It’s so difficult to make changes to our lifestyle when we are constantly living in chaos. Sure, habits might stick for a couple days but when life is chaotic, more often than not, we fall back into our old comfortable habits – no matter how unhealthy they are. Not to mention, think of all the time wasted in the hot zone.
When our days are filled with hot zone moments our decisions become more about surviving the moment instead of accomplishing long term goals. For example, going to the vending machine because you forgot lunch or a snack. This might not be an issue once in a while but if it happens regularly then it’ll put a damper on weight loss goals. Same with ordering a pizza or take-out. Is it going to ruin all your weight loss efforts? No, but if you’re eating fast food on a weekly basis then it’s going to be difficult to create healthier food habits.
I actually stumbled upon controlling my hot zones on accident. In the beginning of my weight loss journey I focused solely on eating habits. I put together a weekly meal plan, meal prepped on Sundays, and stocked my freezer once a month. Originally, I did this just so I could have healthy food ready to eat. However, it wasn’t long before realizing that taking the time to organize my food actually relieved a lot of stress and added more time to my week. This is turn, kept healthier food habits a priority.
Of course, everyone’s hot zones look different. My advice is if you’re struggling to fit healthier food habits into your schedule then take inventory of the chaos going on. What can you do to get out of the hot zones and control the chaos? I guarantee that once you get control over the chaos then more time will magically start to open up.
Related posts to help get hot zones under control.
#2. I stopped making the beast bigger than it is.
One of the things that keeps us from moving forward on ANY goal is we make the beast much bigger than it actually is. We think it’s going to take too much time, too expensive, or it’s going to be way too complicated. When in reality, it’s not as difficult as we imagine. Sometimes we just need to do it instead of thinking about all the reasons we can’t do it.
Sure meal planning, grocery shopping, and meal prep take time – it’s just the way it is. However, it’s not as difficult as we make it out to be nor does it take up entire weekends. Not to mention there are many tips, tricks, and services to spend less time on these things. I’m going to talk about this below.
My point is, don’t write off the habits that’ll ultimately make it easier, and less stressful, for you to eating healthier meals. Also, keep in mind, that the extra time you spend preparing ahead of time will free up more time during your busy week. So, look at these habits as ones that will make your life easier – not harder.
#3. I started to order my groceries online.
Online grocery shopping has been a huge game changer for me. HUGE! I wish it was around 7 years ago when I first started my weight loss journey. At that time, I was working full-time with 2 little kids so I could’ve used the help and the extra time in my weekends. Today, I work from home, and my girls are tweeners, and I still experience the benefits of ordering groceries online.
Of course, ordering groceries online cost a little extra – you’re paying for the convenience – but in my opinion it’s worth every penny. I estimate that I put between 3-4 hours a week back into my schedule. That time is priceless to me. Instead of spending time in the grocery store I can get work done, do laundry, spend time with my girls, or whatever I need to do. I’ve even ordered groceries while sitting at my daughter’s basketball game.
Also, online grocery shopping helps tremendously with staying on track with meal prep. I put together my meal plan on Thursday or Friday and then order my groceries on Saturday. Sunday morning I’m ready to prep.
This isn’t to say I don’t ever go to the grocery store. I do go to my local warehouse store to stock up on items once a month or so. Or if I see a good sale I’ll go to the store and grab some items. However, in the last year, I’ve stuck mostly to ordering groceries online.
I’m telling ya, if you’re looking to add more time into your schedule then give online grocery shopping a try. I mostly order using Instacart but will place orders with Thrive Market every couple months too.
I put together reviews for both if you’re looking for more information.
#4. I started using online meal delivery services.
This piggy backs off the online grocery shopping slightly. A couple years ago I tried Hello Fresh. Like many people, I was enticed by meal delivery services after being sent a coupon and constantly seeing advertising all over Facebook. Anyway, I gave it a try and was hooked. Since then I’ve tried Sun basket, Home Chef, and Green Chef.
I don’t think meal delivery services are for everyone but they definitely meet the needs of many. If you want to eat healthier foods but don’t want to plan meals, or grocery shop, then getting one of these meal delivery services could be right up your alley. I think it’s a great way to start eating healthier when you don’t know where to begin.
Personally, I use online grocery shopping much more that I do meal delivery services. However, once a month or so I do put an order in. I like to switch up my menu and cook new recipes.
Here are my reviews on all the meal delivery services I’ve tried.
#5. I took advantage of meal planning services
I think it’s safe to say in the last 2-3 years I’ve taken full advantage of the different meal planning services the internet has to offer.
Out of all my weight loss habits, meal planning was my least favorite. In the beginning, I did weekly meal planning with pen, paper, and a bunch of cookbooks – well, it’s safe to say that took FOREVER. Thankfully, it’s not like that anymore.
Now I use websites like Plan to Eat to organize all my recipes, easily create meal plans, and quickly generate grocery lists. What used to take me 1-2 hours now takes about 20 minutes.
I also subscribe to Emeals for weekly meal plans. I don’t use Emeals every week but it’s nice to have the weekly meal plan sent to my inbox when I need it. They have a great selection of meal plans. Everything from Paleo to Clean Eating to Slow Cooker meal plans are available.
Both services offer free trials and are rather inexpensive if you choose to sign up. Meal planning services like these will add plenty of time back into your schedule.
#6. I started to meal prep on Sundays
Of course, you knew this one would make the list.
Meal prep doesn’t need to take up an entire Sunday. Typically, I spend about 2-3 hours getting food ready for the week. This might seem like a lot of time but that 2-3 hours saves me about 10 or more hours during the week and whole lot of stress.
- Assures healthy food is available during the week.
- Reduces stress by having food ready to eat.
- Adds more time to your schedule because you’re not cooking everyday.
- Saves money because you’re not ordering takeout.
- Reduces waste and saves money because you’re only make the food your going to eat.
If you’re struggling to find the time to cook and eat healthy foods I highly recommend taking a small amount of time on the weekend to get some meals prepared for during the week.
See my meal prep page with all of my meal prep posts.
Also, considering signing up for my FREE 7-day Getting Started with Meal Prep Emal Series if you want more information and guidance with meal prep.
#7. I stock my freezer once a month or so.
This is one of those habits that will take a chunk of time up front but will add so much more time to your schedule throughout the month.
Freezer cooking simply means preparing recipes or ingredients ahead of time to be frozen for a future meal. You can freeze complete recipes that just need to be warmed up or you can make a bunch of meal starters (shredded chicken, seasoned ground beef, ex) to be used in recipes later on.
One of the time-saving benefits to having meals in the freezer is you won’t have to spend as much time preparing food for the week on Sundays. Simply create a meal plan using the meals in the freezer and then prep the recipes you need to make fresh.
During the week you just need to warm up the freezer recipes and enjoy. You’ll have healthy meals ready to eat when you are.
There’s so many options when it comes to freezer cooking. Here are some posts I wrote on freezer cooking that you might find helpful.
Freezer meal starters
Creating healthier food habits doesn’t have to be this long time-consuming task. It’s a matter of putting systems and habits in place to make it a priority. Of course, changing habits doesn’t happen overnight so my advice is to start slow. Implement one or two changes at time and soon you’ll be eating healthy regardless of your busy schedule.