When it comes to meals, I’m always trying to find ways to make my life easier. Sometimes I’m way too busy to cook/prepare a meal, and other times I simply don’t feel like it! Convenience foods are my go-to in these times. This does not mean that I am not making a conscious effort to fuel my body with the nutrients that I know it needs. Instead, I like to think of it as giving convenience foods a boost, nutrition-wise.
My goal is always to find convenience foods/meals that are, at the very least, slightly more nutritious than some of the typical convenience foods like chips, crackers, cereal, deli meats and other highly processed foods on the market. A few of the things I try to look for in products are good ingredients, fiber and protein content. I also try to minimize saturated fats, sodium and added sugar where I can. All of that being said, not every product will be perfect! It’s all about making adjustments where you can – small swaps here and there add up! Here are a few of the swaps I recommend when it comes to convenience foods:
|Instead of This…||Try This!|
|White bagel with cream cheese||Whole grain English muffin with a nut butter, banana and hemp seeds|
|High-sugar, cold breakfast cereals||½ portion of a lower-sugar cereal with ¼-½ cup of nuts/seeds added|
|Flavored, single-serve oatmeal packets||Plain, cooked oats, topped with nuts/seeds/nut butters, fruitOr, a low-sugar pre-packaged option like Bob’s Red Mill Oatmeal w/ flax & chia seeds|
|Kellogg’s Eggo Waffles||Birch Benders Protein waffles|
|Yoplait (or other regular, flavored yogurt)||Greek yogurt flavored with your own toppings/spices!|
|Skippy of Jif peanut butter||One-ingredient peanut butter· If not one, two (like, dry roasted peanuts and sea salt)|
|Lays or Ritz (or other highly-processed) crackers and chips||Simple mills crackersMary’s Crackers|
|Flavored/dipped pretzels||Lebby’s Chickpea Snacks (get the sesame honey or dark chocolate!)|
|Pre-packaged, flavored trail mixes||Raw or dry roasted nuts – make your own trail mix!|
|Veggie dips/other dips||Hummus (pair it with raw veggies or one of the cracker options above!)|
|Deli/lunch meats||Grilled chicken (make a batch on Sunday!)Canned tuna
Hard boiled eggs
|Hellman’s mayo (or other mayo’s made with inflammatory oils)||Primal Kitchen Mayo (use this for a quick tuna/egg salad for lunch!)|
|Store bought/low-fat salad dressings||Home-made, batched salad dressings (even if you’re buying a salad out, using your own dressing can reduce sodium and added sugar significantly!)|
Pick one of these swaps and see how you can incorporate it into your busy routine! Personally, I keep nut butters and oats in my office at work and crackers or trail mix in my car. This way, I’m good to go if I don’t even have time for a protein waffle when I’m rushing out the door!
Exercise is only part of the equation in living well and feeling your best. Now you can be fully supported in your health and fitness journey, with nutritional coaching offered right here at the club! Isabel Debnam is a Registered Dietitian supporting the nutritional needs of our community.