Eating healthy as a busy mom can feel like an impossible task – whether it’s due to working full-time, a packed schedule of extra-curricular activities, dealing with a newborn who won’t sleep, or a toddler who has to be entertained all the time. There’s a lot to juggle at all times.
It’s no secret that cooking meals at home leads to a healthier lifestyle, with the ability to control portion sizes and ingredients. Research has shown it leads to a more varied diet and a lower risk of obesity (1). It can also help eliminate the need to spend money on convenience foods.
This post goes over how to build a healthy meal with 10 tips to eating healthy as a busy mom. Most of the tips have one thing in common: cooking more meals at home (even if it’s using convenience foods).
Table of Contents
Building a Healthy Meal
Understanding that a well-balanced meal should contain a carbohydrate, protein, healthy fats and a 1/2 plate of fruit/vegetables is key to a healthier lifestyle as a busy mom.
Importance of Macronutrients
Carbohydrates are the body’s main fuel source – providing us with the energy we need to get through the chaos of motherhood. Complex carbohydrates are harder for our bodies to break down, and typically contain more fiber – which can help stabilize blood sugars and keep us full for a longer period of time.
Protein assists with increased meal satiety and satisfaction. Consuming a diet high in protein can also help to preserve lean muscle mass (which helps increase our basal metabolic rate) (2). Aim for at least 20 grams of protein at each meal to ensure you are meeting the minimum recommended daily intake.
Our body needs healthy fats to absorb fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A and D. Further, omega-3 fatty acids promote brain and heart health, while also reducing inflammation.
Strategies For Eating Healthy As A Busy Mom
Meal prep can help to simplify your daily routine by saving you time on hectic days and eliminating the need to spend money on convenience foods. Further, a little planning and prepping can go a long way in creating a healthier lifestyle.
Most moms will do the majority of their meal prep on Sundays, however, you could even find small chunks of time throughout the week instead of just one whole day. It just takes a little organization.
If this sounds like a strategy you would like to implement, these posts contain recipe ideas:
– Low calorie, high protein meal prep for those on a weight loss journey.
– High protein meal prep with 18 easy recipes to get started.
Balance Convenience and Nutrition
Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean you’re always cooking from scratch! Utilizing frozen and canned foods can be a huge time-saver while still providing the health benefits of a home-cooked meal.
Bake fresh or frozen chicken and heat up a frozen bag of veggies and rice in the microwave. Add some fresh toppings to elevate the taste.
Explore your grocery store’s freezer aisle for new products to keep on hand for hectic days. Look at the nutrition labels and choose items lower in salt, sugar, and saturated fat without added sauces.
Figure Out Some Easy, Throw Together Meals
I have a whole post on easy, last-minute dinners because it’s something I have learned to do well (and often). When I am tired of meal planning or searching for new recipes, I always just throw something together using the above healthy meal principles.
Choose a protein, a vegetable from the fridge (preferably the one that you need to use first), a starch in the pantry, and an already made sauce on hand. Similar to the previous strategy, it’s figuring out pantry staples to have around that your family likes. Get creative with your concoctions and it will likely come easier to you the more you do it.
For example, I frequently make chili using mostly canned foods, tacos, power bowls, or some kind of pasta. Some pantry/freezer staples include canned tomatoes, corn, frozen vegetables, taco seasoning, beans, Barilla Protein + pasta, Rao’s pasta sauce, chicken broth, and Buffalo Wild Wings sauces.
Batch cooking can be used for staples like grains, proteins, and sauces – which can be a game-changer when assembling quick meals for the week.
Once you figure out the best time for you to meal prep based on your lifestyle, thinking ahead for the future starts to get easier. For example, instead of cooking one pound of chicken for one meal that week – cook 2-3 and freeze the chicken you’re not going to use in the next five days.
You could even make a large batch of a casserole or soup and freeze in individual portions.
Never throw away extra food. Have leftover chicken but don’t know what to do with it? Freeze it.
One Pan Wonders
Try a Healthy Frozen Meal
I am a firm believer that there’s a place for convenient frozen entrées – especially for a mom with a busy schedule who is trying to live a healthier lifestyle. The key here is to know what you’re looking for on a food label.
- At least 20-30 grams of protein
- 700mg of sodium or less
- Contains adequate calories to be considered a meal (300-500 calories is most ideal)
- Under 8 grams of sugar (less than 5 = even better)
I evaluated many, and here are my top 10 frozen meals.
Find a Home Delivery Meal Service
Home delivery meal services remove the stress of meal planning and prepping. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of meal services available with options ranging from pre-made, vegetarian, low-carb, and dairy-free meals.
Some are more healthy than others – but choose what would work best for your family’s needs and preferences.
Invest In The Right Tools
Having the right tools can make a huge difference in the kitchen by saving time.
This highly-rated vegetable chopper can be a game-changer especially for meal prepping. I often use this to to chop most of my veggies for the week to store in fridge so I don’t have to do it on the nights that are busier!
Other time-saving gadgets include a crockpot, air fryer, instant pot, and food processor.
Get Your Kids Involved
Getting your kids involved in cooking not only keeps them entertained (allowing you to actually prepare a meal), but it has been shown to increase food acceptance. The downside is it can get messy. However, you might be surprised at how fast they learn and become little helpers in the kitchen.
Eating Healthy As A Busy Mom Doesn't Have to Be Impossible
We often don’t prioritize ourselves and our health once we become a mom. Yes, life changes and eating healthy becomes more complicated – but it’s not impossible.
It just takes a little bit of experimentation and adjustment to figure out new strategies that will work for you and your family.
Which of these tips do you think would work best for your lifestyle?
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