I would be lying if I said that I never ordered take-out or already prepared foods during a busy week. Most of us are so busy that we give little thought to what we put in our mouths. But if we refuse to take care of ourselves (and our health) how are we going to be able to complete are long list of tasks? Our health is one thing we cannot take for granted, and we can still make some choices that can keep us healthy while leading our busy lives. The key is knowing that we will not have enough time to prepare foods but still setting ourselves up for success buy purchasing some healthy already-prepared foods ahead of time.

Choosing healthy prepared foods or healthy fast food items can actually be a better option than going to a sit-down restaurant. Most restaurants provide customers with a delicious basket of bread and then a menu full of entrée choices that are larger than normal portions and contain large amounts of sodium and fat.  By rethinking take out, we can stay healthy even with limited time.  Here are a few easy-to-follow alternatives to traditional take-out:

At the grocery store, purchase a rotisserie chicken and keep frozen veggies in the freezer (which can be easily steamed in the microwave- frozen veggies with NO SAUCE). You can also head to the produce section and pick up pre-washed packaged greens for a fresh salad.  You can even pick up already chopped veggies to add to the greens!

Some stores offer already-prepared salads.  Trader Joes and Food And Thought in Naples almost always have fresh salads prepared that day that are packed with fresh greens, veggies, and lean sources of protein (some are even vegetarian). If I know I’m going to have a busy week, I’ll pick up a few salads to get me through.

When ordering from a delivery place, make sure that you consider the source: is this meal packed with sauces that are unhealthy? For example, Chinese food can be misleading because some of their dishes actually do contain vegetables, but the sauces are packed with sodium and calories. When ordering takeout, be assertive and ask them to make your chicken and broccoli plain with no sauce. Most of the time they will accommodate you and you can always add your own flavorings for a healthier option (this applies to eating out at a sit down restaurant as well.) You can also ask for brown rice instead of white rice.

The most important thing is to be prepared. Most of us are extremely busy and have little time to go home and cook a gourmet meal let alone a healthy meal.  We can boost our meals without actually putting in more time by choosing plain frozen veggies (packed full of nutrition just like fresh), freshly prepared salads for lunch, and making healthy take-out choices at restaurants.

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