Are your meals full of unhealthy habits you’d like to change? Maybe you grab a large muﬃn and coﬀee for breakfast on the way to work, raid the vending machine or buy a fast-food burger and fries at lunch, then stop for take-out on the way home. You know this routine isn’t good for your body or your budget – and yet you’re not sure how to change these long-held habits.
Try some of these ideas. Not all at once – it takes time to change habits. Pick one idea, and try it for a week or two. When that small improvement seems second nature, pick another one. Just think how much better you could be eating, 52 weeks from now!
- The right breakfast will keep you satisﬁed until lunch. If you’re hungry by mid-morning, experiment with adding some healthy protein (peanut butter, hummus, egg, yogurt) to your breakfast to avoid that carbs-and-coﬀee crash.
- Whole fruit has more ﬁber and satisﬁes longer than juice, even 100% fruit juice. (It takes 3-4 oranges to create an 8-ounce glass of juice, so you cut your calories by up to 75% too!) When you do drink juice, consider diluting it with sparkling water for a refreshing upscale “soda.”
- Leave butter and jelly on white toast behind. Instead, try half a smashed avocado on whole grain toast or bagel for a satisfying breakfast. Or top your toast with hummus or peanut butter for added protein and healthier fats.
- Buy a big container of plain instant oatmeal, rather than the more expensive ﬂavored packets that tend to be heavy on the sugar. Add your own cinnamon, apples and raisins, or a spoonful of your favorite jam. You’ll save money and empty calories, while starting your day with a delicious whole grain.
- Sauté onions, mushrooms, and a handful of spinach leaves, and add them to your scrambled eggs, for a quick Veggie Scramble good for any meal of the day. Or, scramble them with salsa, hot sauce, or a spoonful of olive tapenade as a great way to add ﬂavor.
- Use over-ripe bananas to make smoothies. Put one banana in a blender with an equal amount of frozen berries. Add milk (or soy or almond milk) to cover, and blend. No ice needed, with frozen berries.
- Consider adding a double handful of spinach or other greens to super-power your smoothie. We admit it sounds weird, and the color can be a bit startling, but you’ll be suprised at how good it tastes!
- Flavored yogurts can be very high in added sugar – often about 5 teaspoons per cup! Buy plain instead, and add your own fruit, granola, or even a spoonful of jam or maple syrup.
- Store-bought granola can be expensive and over-sweetened. Try our recipe for home-made granola instead. We like to microwave a small, cut-up apple, sprinkle it with cinnamon, and top with granola and Greek yogurt.
- Salads aren’t just for lunch and dinner. Fresh greens with a vinaigrette are a wonderful, fresh option to enjoy with egg or tofu scrambles for breakfast.
- Experiment with making diﬀerent types of salads—you don’t need to get stuck in the lettuce-tomato-dressing rut. Fruits, beans, ﬁsh, cheeses, olives, and many diﬀerent types of greens and grains oﬀer endless combinations.
- Eat a lunch of water packed tuna, olive-oil packed canned sardines, or mackerel with whole grain crackers and a crunchy apple for healthy omega-3s, protein, and lots of ﬁber.
- Use whole wheat ﬂour tortillas in place of white for wraps, burritos, and quesadillas—they have a wonderful ﬂavor and will increase your whole grain intake.
- Enjoy takeout sandwiches when you’re in a hurry, but skip the chips, mayo, and soda, and opt for whole-grain bread.
- Use tapenades, avocado, or hummus in place of mayo for sandwiches for healthier fats and protein. If you use mayo, consider one of the brands with added omega-3s or olive oil.
- For healthy homemade pizzas, top whole grain pita with tomato sauce, cheese, piles of vegetables, and a little drizzle of olive oil. Cook at 375°F for about 20 minutes and you’ve got your own in-house pizza party!
- Pasta meals are a perfect solution for quick, delicious and healthy meals. Saute vegetables while the water boils and the pasta cooks, add a little ﬁsh or a few beans, and you’re at the table in 15 minutes.
- Add canned, rinsed beans (black, pinto, chickpeas, white) to pasta dishes, salsas, and salads to increase ﬁber and protein at very little cost!
- Switch from beef burgers to turkey burgers mixed with oatmeal. You’ll cut the fat and add whole grains to your meal.
- Love Italian sausage? Buying chicken sausage instead of pork can cut the calories almost in half, and the saturated fat by about two-thirds – without losing out on ﬂavor.
- When ﬁlling your plate, make half of it vegetables, one quarter grains (preferably whole) and one quarter protein. Increasing your vegetable intake is one of the easiest ways to improve your eating habits.
- Eat ﬁsh or seafood 1-2 times a week, and choose baked, steamed, grilled, or poached preparations over fried.
- Load up your baked potatoes, eggs, soups, and beans with fresh or jarred salsa. It’s a great way to add ﬂavor and lots of extra veggies.
- Add frozen peas to just about anything—soup, pasta sauce, pasta, grains—for extra veggies and ﬁber. Add at the end of cooking so they stay ﬁrm and sweet.
- Enjoy pasta in healthy amounts: one half to one cup cup is a healthy adult portion. It may not seem like much but when you eat it with vegetables, olive oil, or other healthy ingredients you will be satisﬁed!
- Make one dinner per week a Veggie Feast: three or four nutrient-dense vegetables (carrots, broccoli, spinach, beets, squash, tomatoes), lightly steamed, with just a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. This is particulary wonderful at the end of the harvest season with farmers-market-fresh veggies, and is a great way to ensure you’re getting enough of them over the week.
- Revel in the ﬂavor, ease, and frugality of cooking a whole chicken. Click here for One Bird Three Meals.
- If you’re exploring whole grain pasta for the ﬁrst time, try several brands. Unlike white pastas, the tastes vary widely from mild and soft to chewy and nutty; by trying a variety you’re sure to ﬁnd a taste and texture you enjoy.
- Frozen veggie burgers are a great quick dinner. Wilt some spinach at the same time in the pan you’re cooking them in, top with sliced tomatoes and serve on whole grain toast for a balanced 10-minute dinner.
- Cut whole grain pita bread in wedges, top with a little grated Parmesan cheese, Italian herbs, and a drizzle of olive oil, then broil till golden brown, for a great crispy treat with soups.