As a busy small business owner, I know how hard it is to eat healthy when your schedule is crazy. Between clients, business travel, and catching up on emails, it often seems like I work 24 hours a day.
So take it from me: Running a business doesn’t have to mean wolfing down cold cereal over the kitchen sink every night. Here are a dozen easy, healthy go-to meal ideas (and a couple of to-go options) for even the busiest entrepreneur.
1. Breakfast parfait
All you need is low-fat plain yogurt or cottage cheese, pre-cut fruit (such as diced pineapple, mango, or peaches—you can even use canned as long as they’re in juice rather than syrup). Dump them in a bowl or mug, sprinkle some wheat germ on top, and you’re good to go.
Check out this breakfast parfait recipe from Eating Well.
Portability makes smoothies ideal for breakfast. Just pour one into an insulated mug or bottle and enjoy it in the car or on the train.
They’re also easy to customize for your tastes: check out this chart on how to make the perfect smoothie from Eat Well, Live Well for ideas. If putting together smoothie ingredients seems like too much hassle in the morning, throw everything in the blender the night before, store it in the fridge and in the morning, you can just blend, pour and go.
On the run?
You might be surprised to learn that McDonald’s Egg McMuffin is actually a pretty healthy choice. Weighing in at 290 calories and 12 grams of fat (or 250 calories and 8 grams of fat for the egg-white version), it’s got enough protein to tide you over till lunchtime. (Plus, yum.)
Gorp isn’t just for backpacking trips or hippies anymore. This quick, healthy snack, a mix of nuts, dried fruit, coconut or anything you like won’t spoil in your car glove compartment, briefcase or purse.
Tailor it to your liking—just watch your portions. Too many sweet carob chips or salted nuts, and the fat and sodium content can get out of hand. This Gorp recipe from Eating Well is a good starting point.
5. Bento box
It doesn’t have to look as fancy as a Japanese Bento box—you can store it in a Tupperware container to bring to the office, or just put it on a plate. However it’s presented, a simple meal of crudités, hummus, and some type of protein will tide you over as a snack.
Depending on how much food you include, it can also make a great lunch. Keep the elements in your fridge at the office or pack them up the night before. Try this “adult lunchbox” recipe from The Skinny Fork, and check out the images at Wholefully to get inspiration for bento boxes.
Yes, they’re suitable for a kid’s lunchbox, but these Creamy Turkey Pinwheels from Yummy Healthy Easy are a healthy, protein-dense lunch for adults, too. They’re easy to put together, pack up nicely and can be eaten with one hand— the ideal lunch for an overloaded entrepreneur.
Use low-sodium turkey, and make them even healthier (and more grown-up) by adding baby spinach or jarred roasted red peppers.
7. Salad in a jar
Planning to eat at your desk? Then pack a salad in a jar the night before and all you have to do is dump it out onto a plate and dig in.
Layer the ingredients in reverse order so the lettuce is on the top and the dressing on the bottom, and it will all come out perfectly. Get recipes for Cobb, Caesar and Asian chicken salad in a jar from The Lean Green Bean.
Subway, one of the first fast food chains to add nutritional information to its menu, offers several healthy choices. Try the 6-inch Oven-Roasted Chicken or Carved Turkey sandwich, with about 330 calories and 5 grams of fat each.
Since you can order your sandwich however you like it, ask for healthy toppings like avocado, peppers and tomatoes, but steer clear of mayonnaise, olive oil, cheese and other high-fat add-ons.
A crockpot or slow cooker can be a busy business owner’s best friend. Look for a model with a timer so you can set it to turn off when dinner is finished cooking and keep it warm.
Besides the convenience (how much easier can it get than dumping in the ingredients and pushing a button?), crockpot meals only use one pot, so cleanup is simple. Try this slow cooker chicken burrito bowl recipe from No. 2 Pencil and you’ll have a healthy dinner no matter how you get home, plus plenty of leftovers you can feast on for days to come.
10. One-bowl meal
One-bowl dinners are perfect when you’re in a hurry, and convenient to eat while you work on that proposal. This broccoli and chickpea rice bowl from 86 Lemons is vegan and gluten-free, and comes together in less than 20 minutes if you use instant rice or have leftover rice on hand.
(Time-saving tip: Invest in a rice cooker—just put rice and water in the cooker, push the button, and check your emails while it cooks.)
11. One-pot dishes
Craving comfort food after a hard day at the office? This one-pot macaroni and cheese from Cooking a la Mel is tangy, creamy, and yes, healthy.
Buy pre-shredded cheese and bagged, washed baby spinach to speed things up even more. Bonus: One-pot meals like this simplify preparation and cleanup.
12. Make-ahead meals
Some business owners find cooking relaxing. I’m not one of them, but if you are, why not set aside some time each Sunday night to cook for the week?
Make ingredients you can use in meals the rest of the week (like a roast chicken, marinara sauce or rice). Cook a big pot of soup or stew for leftovers all week long. If you’re really ambitious, put together a few make-ahead casseroles you can freeze and reheat. This broccoli, beef and potato casserole earned raves on Eating Well.
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