Healthy convenience foods are important to have on hand if you intend to make a lifestyle change. By replacing old food habits with convenient new ones, you can set yourself up for success rather than exhausting yourself by having to deliberate what to eat every time you are hungry.
One of the easiest ways to change a lifestyle habit is to plan ahead. By planning ahead, you determine your course of action long before the moment has arrived.
Planning ahead is especially crucial when it comes to any sort of dietary change. So if you are wanting to eat healthier at home, you can’t just STOP buying junk foods. Instead, you have to replace your junk food purchases with healthy foods.
Depending on your personality type and time allowance, you may be able to make a much more drastic change like switching from store bought junk foods to making everything from scratch. But like I mention here in these steps to traditional homemaking, make one change at a time (#7).
What works for You
For me, there will never be substitute close enough to the Oreo to tempt me to buy it. No organic, low sugar, fair trade version of “milk’s favorite cookie” has ever found it’s way into my home. To me, there’s no comparison.
Instead, about once or twice a year I buy a pack of Double Stuff Mint Oreos (my favorite!) and enjoy them over the span of a week or two. Or I take a few and give the rest of the pack to someone else. I’d rather fully enjoy the real thing sparingly than waste a sugar splurge on a healthier imposter.
Healthy Convenience Foods to Have on Hand
For healthier yogurt, try backing down the amount of sugar in it. Most flavored yogurts have an astounding amount of added sugar. Buy plain, full-fat yogurt at the store and add your own fruit, maple syrup or vanilla to it for flavoring.
If you get super ambitious, consider making your own yogurt!
I always have some sort of cheese on hand. When I just need a little something to get me to supper time, I’ll have a slice. Or two. And my son loves cheese for a snack, too!
If you have littles that you don’t want using a knife to slice cheese, consider pre-slicing a whole block and storing it in the fridge. Otherwise buy pre-sliced cheese, cheese curds, cheese whips or string cheese
3. Frozen fruit
I love keeping frozen fruit on hand for smoothies. In five minutes I can whip up a nutrient packed smoothie for a meal or snack and hit the road or hop back on the lawn mower.
Kefir is what I use as a base in my smoothies so I always have some in the fridge. You can buy it, but making it is easy and requires little hands on time and can save you tons of money.
Read More: How to Make Kefir at Home
Have you ever tried Morning Glory muffins?! They are one of my favorites and are packed with healthy foods like carrots, apples, raisins, nuts and coconut. Smothered in butter, these muffins are a great snack for all ages.
I like to bake on a rainy or cold day and keep the goodies in the freezer. It’s so easy to grab a few out of the freezer a few minutes ahead of time and enjoy. Because I minimize my microwave use, I like to defrost things in my oven on the “Keep Warm” feature.
Olives are a great snack for a hot afternoon. They are full of healthy fat and are canned in lots of salt that helps balance electrolytes. I keep olives on hand to eat on salad or for my toddler to eat plain. You could even serve them with ranch dip! The best part is they don’t require washing, chopping or refrigeration.
Keep a container of homemade ranch dip and some dressing on hand for quick veggie snacks and salads. To make the most of your time, whip up a batch while you are making supper and stuck in the kitchen anyways.
Read More: Homemade Ranch Dressing and Dip
We love nuts for travel! I keep a container of them in our van so we can snack on a few if we are stuck on the road for a while. Once in a while I’ll enjoy them as a snack around the house, but not very often. Pecans are one of our favorites because they are as delicious raw as roasted and salted.
9. Canned beans
Forget to thaw meat for supper? Just grab a can of legumes and add them to your soup, hot dish or salad for an extra boost of protein.
Buying kombucha gets expensive real quick. But it is a great substitute for soda. Learn how to make it so you always have some on hand for your family. Sure, it ferments for many days, but the hands-on time for making it is very little.
Do a second ferment with some of your frozen fruit and you have a delicious drink the family will love.
Read More: How to Make Kombucha
I’m a proponent of eating the actual food to get the nutrient benefits of it. But collagen is a wonderful, healthful convenience food full of protein and amino acids that you can add to just about anything. Only have time for coffee? Add a couple tablespoons of collagen. Grabbing a yogurt on your way out the door? Stir in collagen. Making a smoothie? Add collagen.
Read More: Supercharge Your Coffee and Tea
One of the most versatile foods, eggs can be enjoyed any time of day. Hard boil some for quick snacks or for salads. Fry them for a quick breakfast. Break a couple into your smoothie. Add some to your homemade ice cream.
Whether you need a quick snack or have time to make muffins for the freezer, you should make an effort to always have eggs on hand.
Read More: Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs
If you are a cold cereal family, homemade granola can be a healthier alternative. For beginners, buy granola to replaced sugary, junk cold cereal. As you adjust to that, consider making your own basic granola. For an extra nutrient dense kick, make soaked granola for a healthy convenience food.
This whole grain is wonderful to keep on hand at all times because it’s so versatile. Bake with it or eat it plain. I love my version of “instant” oatmeal for a quick breakfast with few dishes. Get “instant” oatmeal instructions here. I like to put raisins in with it the night before so that they are juicy in the morning.
Have you heard of oatmeal flour pancakes? Try this recipe if you have gluten intolerance in your household.
15. Prewashed greens
If greens aren’t pre-washed, I’m much less likely to eat them when I’m in a rush. You can grab a handful of greens and throw them in your smoothie, sauté them with your breakfast eggs or enjoy a salad. Remember, the less resistance to getting healthy food in your mouth, the more likely you are to reach for the healthy foods in front of you.
Of course, homemade, simmered-for-hours broth is the best. But we don’t all have that prepped ahead. So I keep organic chicken and beef stock in my pantry at all times. It’s shelf stable so it’s not tying up fridge or freezer space.
As with any lifestyle change, the important thing is to just start. You don’t have to go out and buy all these foods at once! Just replace your pantry and fridge with these healthy convenience foods as you run out of your previous food options.