After gorging myself on cookies, pies, and oh-so-heavenly comfort food dishes for the holidays, my thoughts begin turning towards healthier dishes that I can incorporate in our family menu plan for the New Year. Making healthy choices doesn’t have to be expensive though and actually makes grocery shopping easier because you need only shop the perimeter of the store.
Here are a few tips for healthy eating in the New Year:
Always Start With a Good Plan
The first step towards a healthy menu plan is to begin with a well-thought menu plan and grocery list. No worries if you are still doing your grocery lists the good old-fashioned way with pen & paper, but for those glued to their smartphones, consider adding the free Grocery IQ app to your phone. With Grocery IQ you can type, speak, or scan grocery list items into your list. The list automatically adds your items into categories and then alerts you if coupons are available for any items you might be adding to your list. Coupons can then be sent to your email when your list has been made or (if you have a wireless enabled printer) can be sent to your printer for printing. As you gather your items from your list, simply check it off and the item moves to the bottom of the list. Once your whole list is complete, everything is shifted towards the bottom and then can simply be clicked to add those repeat items back on the list for your next visit.
Since I always have my phone with me, switching to an electronic grocery list has been much easier than I thought it would be. The coupon feature helps save our family money on items we were already planning to buy and the list helps keep our family budget on track. I also love that I can sync my list from my iPad to my iPhone so I can use whichever device I have handy to add.
Have a Dedicated Chopping Day
Healthy eating can feel very time-consuming, but remember that the rewards far outweigh the time investment. I designate one day a week to preparing smart food selections in advance for the week. A typical day involves chopping up vegetables for quick stir-fry dishes, roasting seasoned chicken breasts for an ingredient to use in dishes or to be eaten alongside fresh veggies, making a batch of steel cut oatmeal in my slow cooker for a smart breakfast choice, and making a large batch of quinoa to be made into salads or served with chopped meat and veggies. Although that day can feel very labor-intensive, the rewards are enjoyed all weeklong.
Rethink Your Beverage Choices
Everyone has their vice and mine for the last ten years had been Diet Coke. I am proud to say that this year I kicked my soda habit to the curb and I feel better than ever. The best part is that I am saving our family money in the process.
This year, rethink your beverage choices and enjoy the savings and health benefits of not being dependent on soft drinks. Just because you are giving up the soda though does not mean that you can’t have fun with your beverages!
One thing our family loves is fruit infused waters. It truly could not be easier and you can mix up any flavors that you love and personalize these to your own personal taste. Just pick your favorite fruits (berries, strawberries, lemons, oranges, limes, etc…) and mix them with herbs (rosemary, mint, basil), pour your water on top, and allow the water to infuse with these fresh additions.
These fun twists on water really helped me through those soda cravings especially when mixed with a little carbonated water to give it that fizz factor I missed so much.
Rethink Your Comfort Food
My last thought is to rethink those heavy comfort food dishes you have been craving and spin them into new ways. This is not a new concept, but thanks to diets like Paleo & Whole30, people are looking for smarter ways to enjoy those comfort food dishes more than ever.
One dish our family has loved is meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Although ground turkey is a common substitute, replacing the breadcrumbs with a healthy protein like quinoa was a new one for us. In lieu of a calorie-laden potato, I sautéed mushrooms in olive oil with fresh parsley for an equally comforting side dish. Our entire family agreed that this was just as delicious as our old version and I loved this smart healthy substitute!