You’re almost there!!!! Thank you for sticking through the challenge this far. I love to see your progress and hear any kind of feedback you have about the program! We will be having another Zoom on September 16th at 4:00pm EST that you can register for here. Feel free to email us with any questions you’d like us to include in the September zoom!
Back To School Or The Office
School is starting and some of you may be going back into the office! It’s easy to fall back into old habits but there are plenty of tricks to get in front of the busy days ahead. Packing lunches for the kids or for yourself is a good start to increase your fruit and vegetable intake. One thing I do when I have extra time on the weekend is meal prep for the week! This makes my mornings easier and all I have to do is heat it up in the microwave for lunch. We’ll talk more about these pointers below.
Grocery Store Hacks
Some components to a healthful grocery shop include making a grocery list of foods you plan on having that week and shopping the outskirts of the store. Grocery shopping starts even before you get to the store by checking cupboards to see what you already have and can make, then write down what you need.
Once you arrive to the store with your list, a hack to keep in your tool box of success is shopping the outskirts of the store where whole food items like dairy, meats, and of course produce, are generally kept. Even though more processed items are usually in the center, that doesn’t mean that you can’t shop on the inner sections of the store. I normally shop for whole foods first, then go back through the aisles for the “pantry” items on my list.
Knowledge that could be beneficial when shopping for produce is how fresh, frozen, and canned produce compare. Believe it or not, frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh produce! Buying produce that is frozen can often save you money and stay fresh longer. Here are some recipes using frozen produce:
- Blueberry Frozen Yogurt
- Mixed Berry French Toast Bake
- Frozen Fruit Smoothie
- Muffin-Tin Chicken Potpies
- Chicken Fried Rice
Canned fruits and vegetables are also a nutritious option. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when buying and cooking canned fruits and vegetables. When shopping for canned fruits, it’s best to stick with fruit in water or 100% juice instead of syrup. This cuts down on added sugars.
Canned vegetables are usually higher in sodium but no worries, stores will usually offer a low sodium version of what you’re looking for. If you’d rather stick to your favorite fifty-cent can of beans, reducing sodium is simply rinsing the beans before you put them in the dish your cooking.
During the program, you may have found it difficult to find time to prepare your produce or come up with a creative way to eat it. This is why I love no-prep produce!
Here are a few ideas :
- Avocados can be eaten on top bread or cut in half and eaten with a spoon.
- Cherry tomatoes can be eaten whole on top of any dish or just as a snack.
- Pre-packaged salad mixes are great for a quick meal. Just add your favorite dressing is it doesn’t already come with on and enjoy!
- Raw baby carrots with ranch or hummus.
- Snap Peas add great texture and can be eaten by themselves, with a dip, or tossed into any meal you prefer.
- Sliced cucumbers with or without the skin. *Pro-tip: the skin on certain fruits and vegetables add more fiber.
- Apples, Bananas, Oranges, Grapes, Blueberries, and Strawberries. Simply peel or rinse and dig in!
Meal Prepping And Packing Lunches
Meal prepping is a great way to get ahead and have meals ready when you don’t feel like cooking or you want to avoid buying take out while at work. You can also use these tips to check school lunches for the kiddos off your to-do list. If you don’t have enough Tupperware, no need to worry about breaking the bank on some fancy containers when you can buy ones in bulk from Walmart or Amazon for half the cost.
If your weekends are normally free or you have just a couple hours of free time, use that time to prep some meals for the week. It’s easy to pack a variety of fruits and vegetables and preparing ahead of time allows you to make healthier choices later. A few vegetables that heat up easy in the microwave are broccoli, green beans, and peppers. If you prep meals and put them in the freezer, wrap them well to avoid freezer burn, and they’ll last up to a month or more. Keep prepped meals in the fridge for no more than 5 to 7 days.
Recipe Options For Packing Lunch
- One-Pan Italian Sausage and Veggies
- Cold Sesame Noodle Meal Prep Bowls
- Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
- The Tuna Salad Lunch Box
We hope you’ve enjoyed these tips & produce hacks!
– Julie and Intern Hailee