If you follow my What I Ate Wednesday posts you’ll know my method for batch cooking sometimes runs into a snag. Due to travel or a social engagement I may not cook on Saturday night. Sometimes I have leftovers for lunch on Wednesday but that leaves me nothing to bring for dinner. When Brian is gone for the weekend I am less likely to cook. Other times I just need an easy button and I am willing to pay a little extra for it.
Eggs are fast (and I do love them) but eating them three times a day might be a little overkill. Cereal works occasionally but it doesn’t always fill me up. I don’t want to turn to the drive up or overly processed junk. Is it possible to keep it clean while reaching for fast and convenient food?
Absolutely positively yes!
With the rise of busy lives and the demand for better quality foods (according to TIME sales of organic products rose 11.5% in 2013) there are more and more options for busy people who want to eat better. This trend is a blessing and a course. If you have a desire to live a healthier life with a crazy schedule you have more choices than ever. The problem is you have MORE CHOICES THAN EVER! It’s overwhelming, especially to someone just getting started on a fitness journey.
To help you narrow down the field and get in and out of the grocery store just a bit quicker, I’ve got a list of my top 10 favorite clean eating convenience foods. Use these to fill the gaps when you run out of leftovers, need to pack for a road trip or when you just don’t have the patience or time to cook.
I keep hummus and black bean varieties of this perfect on the go meal on hand at all times. They are a must in my carry-on when I travel. Each meal is less than 500 calories, is a good source of protein and doesn’t require any refrigeration or heating. I’ve never had any problem getting my hummus through TSA screening either.
Amy’s got me started on my journey. I used to keep the black bean enchiladas and bean burritos in the freezer at the office. Today I often use the chili to add protein to my baked sweet potato. Yes, they come in boxes and cans but I can pronounce every ingredient. Plus the Amy’s frozen meals taste so much better than those other so called “healthy choices”.
I discovered this yummy vegetarian soup brand a few years ago when I had limited food storage options at my old training studio. A cold winter and a very tiny shared refrigerator made me seek out options for warm food that didn’t need to be refrigerated. Dr . McDougall’s “cup of soup” was the perfect solution! All you do is add water, heat and eat. The split pea is my favorite variety because it packs a lot of protein but all the varieties taste great.
Another favorite travel snack, these are great for hiking! On the trail all you have to do tear open and eat for quick energy. At the gym, I can smear the nut butter on a banana to keep my energy up for an evening of training.
I counsel my clients on getting protein and vegetables or fruit every time they eat. Edamame checks off both boxes! The dry roasted version is portable, crunchy and amazingly filling. You can make your own single serve packs or but these 100 calorie packs that are ready to go.
Cooking quinoa takes about 20 minutes. That may not seem like a lot of time but if you’ve got to get kids to soccer practice or only have a short break between conference calls this warm and serve bag of goodness from Target is well worth the extra money. Top it with baked tofu or black beans and salsa for a quick lunch or dinner.
I gave you my protein bars taste tests and favorites but Larabar ALT make the best gym dinner for me right now. At 270 calories it makes a perfect meal between training sessions when paired with an apple. The Larabar ALT bars are also wonderful for hikes and road trips because they don’t have the melty chocolate coating a many protein bars do. Less mess, more goodness!
Freeze-dried peas are an amazing snack. With just 100 calories and 7 grams of protein per serving, they make the perfect snack to munch while catching up on House of Cards or watching the kids play soccer.
I normally say it doesn’t take longer to make your own oatmeal but I get it when there are times when an instant variety might be easier. This delicious blend of chia and hemp seeds makes for a warm and filling morning when breakfast might have to wait till you get to the office.
Need to make a quick dinner for the kids? Pair these beans with a whole wheat tortilla and salsa for a burrito they won’t know is good for them. No time to make a dish for book club? Grab these beans and some organic blue corn chips and you’ll be the hit of the party.
What we make in our own kitchen should be the main attraction in our daily diet but we can all use a plan B. Sometimes we forget to make beans in the crockpot. Sometimes we run out of baby carrots. If you keep these items tucked away in the pantry, freezer or desk you’ll never need to hit the drive up again!