When the kids go back to school and the days start to get a little bit shorter, many of our schedules are getting “back to busy”. The dog days of summer are behind us and the hectic juggle of life starts all over again.
When it comes to prepping healthy meals, the busy months typically mean that we don’t have as much time to spend in the kitchen. But having limited time doesn’t mean that we have to skimp on our intake of fruits and vegetables. Sure, many of us can’t make it to the local farmer’s market or grocery store to snag the freshest produce options as often as we would like, nor do many of us have the free time to chop and prep veggies to include in our dinner dishes. But there are a slew of options available that can help people combat these healthy eating obstacles during the busy months without having to sacrifice on our produce intake.
As a registered dietitian and a busy mom, I lean on a wide variety of kitchen staples that help me provide my family with balanced meals and snacks. that are packed with fruits and veggies in a convenient and “shortcut-friendly” way. For other people who are limited on time during the busy months and are focused on eating enough fruits and veggies every single day, here are some kitchen staples that make “back to busy” a little easier to tackle.
Frozen pre-cut veggies
Did you know that frozen veggies are often times picked at the peak of ripeness and frozen quickly after they are harvested? And because of this, frozen veggies are typically just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts. Having frozen bags of pre-cut broccoli, cauliflower, or any other veggie under the sun can help get dinner on the table in a snap without having to rush to the grocery store. Bonus? Many varieties of frozen veggies take far less time to cook than fresh options, which can be a great time saving for busy folks.
Frozen pre-cut veggies can easily be added to soups, casseroles, and even scrambled eggs.
Canned fruit packed with 100% Juice
Canned pineapple, peaches, and other fruits that are preserved in natural juice can be a nutritious addition to a balanced diet. And all that needs to be done to enjoy this fruit option is popping open the top of the can!
Combining canned fruit with cottage cheese, using canned fruit in homemade sorbet recipes, and even enjoying them on their own are all fantastic ways to lean on this convenient fruit variety on busy days.
Pre-chopped fresh onions
Sometimes, the more shortcuts we can take, the better. Many grocery stores are now carrying containers of pre-peeled and diced onions, helping save the step of chopping when you are pressed for time. Sure, this pre-prepped onion option isn’t the most economical choice, but using it can help people include more veggies in their dishes while saving a time-consuming step in the kitchen.
Dried fruit that is made with no added sugar is a shelf-stable and often very economical fruit option that naturally contains fiber, antioxidants, and other key nutrients. From adding raisins to a bowl of oatmeal to including prunes in a smoothie for some natural sweetness, dried fruit can be a lifesaver if you don’t have time to snag fresh options or you don’t want to bother prepping fruit before using it in recipes. Just be mindful of your portion sizes that you choose, as dried fruit is a more concentrated source of calories and sugar vs. fresh choices.
Lean On Convenient Fruits and Vegetables On Busy Days
Living a busy lifestyle doesn’t have to mean doing without the slew of nutrients that fruits and vegetables offer. While fresh choices are always a nice option to include in your meals and snacks, opting for frozen, dried, canned, and pre-chopped produce can be just as nutritious as the fresh counterparts while being incredibly convenient to use. With these tips, you should be able to include enough fruits and veggies in your diet, no matter how hectic your days are during the year.