When you’re so busy that you barely have time to brush your teeth in the morning, healthy eating can be a challenge: It’s all too easy to succumb to grabbing fast food or take-out for dinner or stress-eating chips and chocolate to get you through the day. But I don’t think I need to tell you that this is bad for your body—and your energy levels.
Luckily, eating well doesn’t have to take up a lot of your precious time. All it takes is a little foresight and planning. Here are a few tips to help make healthy eating a perfectly manageable part of your to-do list.
1. Keep Healthy Snacks Within Arm’s Reach
When the vending machine or leftovers from the 3 PM meeting tempt you with their ease and convenience, it’s hard to just say no to chips and cookies during that mid-afternoon slump. But—it’s a whole lot easier when you’re armed with an arsenal of healthier alternatives.
So, on Monday morning or at lunch, swing by the store or deli to pick up some snacking essentials. Get whole grain crackers, nut butters, dried fruit, mixed nuts, and even a bar of dark chocolate to keep at your desk, and buy pre-cut veggies, low-fat string cheese or cheese wedges, and hummus to stick in the fridge. You’ll be fully stocked with healthy (and delicious!) snacks all week long.
2. Get Healthy Snacks Delivered to You
A great way to inject both variety and convenience into your mid-day snacking is to sign up for a subscription service. For a small monthly fee, services like NatureBox and Healthy Surprise will send you a care package filled with healthy goodies—everything from crunchy granola and trail mix to apple chips and hearty peanut butter “cookies.” The snacks inside the shipments are small and perfect for grabbing on the go, and many of them even have options for special diets, like vegan and gluten-free.
The best part? You don’t have to put any thought into the snacks, but you know they’re going to be healthy. And hey, who doesn’t love a surprise package every month?
Related: The 10 Best Subscription Boxes Ever
3. Try a Better Alternative to Take-out
When you don’t have time to shop and cook, dialing the number for your local pizza place can seem like the ideal solution. But for the same price as take-out, you can have nutritious meals delivered to your door. Companies like Blue Apron or Plated are great for those who love cooking but don’t have time to shop—they’ll deliver ingredients and recipes right to your door, and all you have to do is whip up a fresh meal. Services like SpoonRocket and 5 Squares make it even easier, allowing you to order delicious and fully-prepared dishes like roasted jambalaya chicken or flame-grilled vegetables.
4. Make Your Own Freezer Meals
If you’d like to cook—but just know it takes more time and energy than you have after a long day—change up the way you think about meal preparation. Instead of planning to make dinner after work every day (and then caving and just eating a store-bought freezer meal), carve out an hour or two to cook on a Sunday night, and simply scale the recipe up to make several meals at once to enjoy later in the week. Check out a cookbook like Make-Ahead Meals Made Healthy for tons of dinner options that freeze well.
5. Make Friends With the Slow Cooker
Alternatively, invest in a Crock-Pot to let your meal cook while you’re busy at work. Just throw the ingredients into the slow cooker in the morning when you still have some energy, and you’ll return home to a piping hot meal full of hearty goodness. And don’t feel limited to stews and chilis in your cooker—the recipe options really are endless and will make you feel like a gourmet even when you’re short on time.
Tell us! How do you stay healthy when you’re slammed at work?