Updated: May 20, 2020
Need a cheat sheet to avoid cooking tonight? You have come to the right place! Cooking can be relaxing, therapeutic and exciting, but it can also be a pain to do every week. Truth is, you can buy pre-made/pre-packaged things and still be healthy. Here are some tips and some examples of my favorite pre-made things.
1. Always look for a whole wheat option. This little ingredient makes a big difference. From pasta to rice or bread, switching from white to whole wheat is imperative for your health. Whole wheat options have more fiber, nutrients and fewer chemicals. Be cautious of "white whole wheat", "enriched white" and "whole wheat corn," they are not whole wheat. If anything is made with a combination of whole wheat and white flour it's not whole wheat either.
2. Look at the box. A lot of people avoid prepackaged things because of problematic ingredients. Such as sodium, sugars and trans fats. These 3 additives, eaten in excess or in high quantities, can help cumulate a host of health problems including diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and other heart-related issues. Read the nutrient percentages on the box to avoid these.
3. What's that ingredient again? If you are reading the ingredients list and you don't know what something is, chances are you shouldn't be eating it. Simple is always better. You want to look for the simplest and less complex ingredients when finding foods to eat. Avoid ingredients like: high fructose corn syrup, "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated," "mono-," MSG, sodium nitrite, artificial color or flavors, sweeteners and preservatives. Companies will use science terminology when naming harmful stuff because most people won't know what it is. If you are reading the ingredients and do not know what it is, look it up or just avoid it.
4. Order is important. The first thing listed in the ingredients is the highest percentage of what the food is made out of. If you see flour, fructose and sodium listed first, those are the main components of the food. Watch out for companies that put "natural" on the box but ingredients start out with a genetically modified substance.
5. AVOID MICROWAVE FOODS WITH MEAT IN IT!
Hormel macaroni and cheese with bacon is similar to a lot of microwavable dinners. The problem is it's full of salt (960mg), packed with cholesterol, saturated fat, and other garbage. One key I use is if there is meat in a microwavable meal AVOID it! Do not eat the microwaved meat period.
My Favorite Options:
Nature Valley bars are pretty awesome, to grab on the go. Although they do have a high salt content, eating before a workout is the best time to munch on these.
Crunchy Cliff Bars are even more satisfying than nature valley (especially there chocolate chip one) and are 70% organic. Try eating pre-workout, similar to nature valley, or sparingly.
Amy's Light and Clean Spinach Lasagna (not vegan) just wow. There is nothing wrong with this food. Its the perfect pasta dish and you can add protein or even more vegetables too because it is only 250 calories.
Simply Balanced Cultivated Wild Rice is a great way to make rice without a stove. This is easy microwavable rice (that you can get at target) that is a source of whole grains without the fuss of a stove.
Steam in bag vegetables. This is my go-to vegetables weekly. It is so easy to put these into the microwave and fresh vegetables ready for the week. If you are on the go, this is must-buy !
Subway is an easy on-the-go healthy restaurant. But, it depends on what you get though. Try adding the most vegetables as possible (heavy on the lettuce and tomatoes.) Try getting grilled chicken breast, or even roasted beef, as your protein option. Avoid mayonnaise (get avocadoes instead) and other heavier fat additives like bacon. Deli meats (like ham, salami, pepperoni, etc) are usually high in sodium, so add sparingly.