Eat Healthy When Life Gets Busy

— Written By and last updated by

When our everyday lives get busy with work, school, and home life, making great food choices sometimes gets put on the back burner. We typically go for fast food or food that is more convenient to grab and go. Most convenience foods are loaded with sodium, sugar, and other nonessentials for our bodies. These ingredients often lead to health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. Our bodies need six key nutrients in order to stay healthy:  carbohydrates, water, protein, (healthy) fats, vitamins, and minerals. Without these essential key nutrients, our bodies begin to slow down and become sluggish.

How can we make sure we are getting what we need out of our meals? Meal prep and menu planning can be a lifesaver for families on the go. Find meals that require little to no food prep time for days that your schedule will be hectic. That way you already have a healthy meal that needs minimal cooking time, and all the prep is out the way. Sundays are always a good time to prep meals and snacks that can be easy to make. Salads are also a meal that packs a lot of nutrients. Create your own salad bar with a variety of options, like meat (protein), cheese (dairy), fruits, vegetables, and whole wheat crackers (grain). In the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), we teach youth the importance of getting all five food groups in a meal. With each food group, we will get many of the key nutrients for our bodies.

When shopping for easy meal solutions remember to read food labels. Avoid foods that are loaded with unwanted nutrients and not enough of the right ones. It’s always best to go with fresh ingredients, but frozen and canned foods are good as well.

A tasty recipe that our adult participants in EFNEP learn to cook is mini meatloaves. It’s an easy and delicious twist on your traditional meatloaf:

Ingredients
1 lb lean ground beef, turkey, or chicken
1½ cups salsa, divided
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup dry bread crumbs
¼ cup finely chopped onion
Dash of black pepper
Non-stick cooking spray 

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350°.
  2. Combine all ingredients, saving half of salsa for topping.
  3. Divide into 5 equal portions and shape into flattened loaves.
  4. Spray baking dish with non-stick spray and place loaves in dish.
  5. Spoon half of the remaining salsa on top of loaves and bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Take out of oven and spoon remaining salsa over top and bake for another 10 minutes. Be sure ground beef meatloaf reaches 160°F or 165°F for ground turkey or ground chicken.

For more information, contact Joanna Rogers, Extension Youth Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Assistant, at 910-671-3276, by email at Joanna_Rogers@ncsu.edu, or visit our website.

NC State University and N.C. A&T State University are collectively committed to positive action to secure equal opportunity and prohibit discrimination and harassment regardless of age, color, disability, family and marital status, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, political beliefs, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, and veteran status. NC State, N.C. A&T, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.