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Health(ier) Meals for Families On-the-Go

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Once upon a time, when my girls were babies, I made majority of their baby food.  I have always enjoyed being creative in the kitchen but since I’ve been working part-time, it has been so much harder to put a home cooked meal on the table each night.  We juggle two work schedules, mother’s morning out, church, gymnastics, working out, and family/friend time each week.  Needless to say, some nights our dinner consists of pizza or chinese food!  In an effort to keep up with our on-the-go family, I’m trying to get back to food basics with health(ier) options for us to eat.

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My friend Ashley recommended I check out the 100 Days of Real Food blog back in December. I knew we were eating too much processed food so I found this blog to be extremely helpful as I tried to make some better food choices at the grocery store and eating out.  I didn’t take her challenge because I am just not that hard core, but I did make some changes recently while shopping.

Health(ier) Breakfast:

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For starters, I love wheat and whole grains.  One of the big recommendations I found on 100 Days of Real Food was to cut out white bread and to buy whole grains as much as possible (look for the logo below on your food to know it is whole grain approved).  That was easy for us since we do that already.  So, I purchased the Honey Nut Cheerios and the Quaker oatmeal (they were B1G1 at Publix that week) for wheat options.

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The strawberries were also on sale (2 for $5) so I got those to go with some yogurt and granola.  The granola is the blueberry mix in the Greenwise section at Publix and the yogurt is fat free plain yogurt.  100 Days of Real Food suggests for us to eat plain yogurt because it doesn’t have any additives.  I mixed the strawberries, granola, and yogurt together with a swirl of honey and it was a little tart but still good.  We also switched to organic milk.  It is more expensive but since we’ve switched, my girls have actually wanted to drink more milk (they’ve been on a gatorade kick so I eagerly poured them another glass!).

Health(ier) Lunch:

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I’ve eaten either a turkey sandwich or a peanut butter & jelly sandwich almost every day for lunch my whole entire life. I am not kidding (just ask my mom!). I’d been buying the cheapest bread at the grocery store, but I learned that even though it said “honey wheat” on it, the bread I was buying was missing one of the three parts of wheat that was necessary for something to truly be “whole wheat.”  So, I switched to the bakery 100% whole wheat bread.  It is softer and I love it.  I hope I can get back to making my own bread again soon (I accidentally threw away one of the pieces to my bread machine over a year ago…oh, well!) but until then, this is a great option. We go through one loaf a week for a family of four.

I also switched back to deli turkey. I had been buying the Publix deli turkey that was packaged, but it isn’t as good as the fresh deli turkey because it has extras in it to keep it sealed. It is a little more expensive, but it is something I eat every day so I consider that price difference to be okay. Also, I switched to natural grape jelly instead of the regular kind I was buying. It was the best option I could find at Publix for jellies. I haven’t made the switch to organic/natural peanut butter yet…I just can’t give up on my creamy Peter Pan. 🙂

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My family is also a big chip eating family. The girls LOVE these barbeque pop chips and they are popped instead of baked or fried so they have less bad stuff in them.  Raleigh also really liked these Tyrrell’s chips…they were some kind of jalepeno cheddar. I love these Pretzel Crisps (dipped in Nutella…oh my!) and they have wheat flour in them.  We also switched to whole grain Tostito’s (we had done this last year during the Daniel Fast and they are really good).

Health(ier) Snacks:

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I love making home-made salsa, but when I can’t I like Publix deli’s mild salsa.  It has all-natural ingredients and I like how it is runny and not chunky.  We had chips and salsa with ground turkey tacos one night for dinner and my whole family ate it up.

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We are also a crunchy family.  I am always trying out new granola recipes and store bought bars.  My heart will always belong to Quaker Chocolate Chip granola bars but these Cascadian Farm bars were a delightful surprise.  The food blog suggested buying Lara Bars as another granola bar option.  To be honest, I can’t quite get past the texture but they aren’t totally bad.  Maralee even ate half of one the other day!  I am just not easily fooled by the “cookie” part of these bars.  But, I’m getting there 🙂  (Also, I have enjoyed the peanut butter Cliff bars!)

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Fruit snacks around our house are officially called “Nemo’s.”  The packaged fruit snacks are so easy and my girls love them but y’all they are so full of sugar. To detox the Nemo’s out of their system, I’ve tried to make the switch to these Buddy Fruits (they are only like .79 cents each so worth a try!) and my girls will eat them without protest 1 out of 3 times. They seem to really like the apple ones. We also love these pre-sliced apples (I know they have something in them to keep them from turning yellow but I seriously like not having to cut up apples every time we want them) with peanut butter for a snack. I’ve also been trying out different trail mixes. Publix has a great energy one in their organic section but this Ocean Spray fruit and nut mix was on sale the week I went so we are trying it out too. I think the key in trail mix is to keep it as natural as you can and try to load up on almonds. 

Health(ier) Dinner:

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Since I am only cooking dinner 1-2 times a week now with our schedule, I figure I better make it healthy. To help make dinner quick, I picked up these microwave ready french green beans and Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain Brown Rice. I compared the Uncle Ben’s rice to the organic rice and it was cheaper and they were both whole grain (I’m sure the organic one is still better but I think this is fine too). I love fish but don’t cook it nearly enough  because it is expensive, and I always feel weird eating it at home instead of the beach. The food blog recommends not buying farm-fed fish but the only kind that fit into my budget that week was this frozen salmon.  I cooked it in the oven with the lemon, fresh dill, olive oil, and salt and pepper. I served it with the whole grain rice and home-made sweet potato fries (I baked them in the oven with olive oil, salt & pepper, fresh parsley, landry’s seasoning salt, ground cinnamon, and paprika). I meant to take a picture but we were so hungry that I didn’t get a chance!

We’ve also had salad for dinner on the nights when we’ve been working out and want something light.  I’ve grilled some chicken (sometimes I make it barbeque, greek, or fried for the unhealthy options) and added dried cranberries, walnuts, feta cheese, egg, and bacon to it with raspberry vinagrette dressing.  My whole family seems to enjoy it.

Health(ier) Dessert:

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Life just isn’t complete without chocolate. I found this all natural chocolate cake mix at Publix and decided to give it a try:

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One of her suggestions is to cut out sugar but if you eat it, only eat sugar that you make home-made.  Well, I love sugar so this was an effort at cutting back.  I made a cream cheese frosting to go with the cake and the final result was a health(ier) devil’s food cake.  I used my lemon cream cheese frosting recipe (without the lemon and cut the ingredient portion in half).   It was really good y’all, not even gonna lie.

So, those have been some of my efforts for my on-the-go family to eat health(ier). What about you?  Do you have any healthier food options/recipes?  Please share!

Till next time, let your light shine!

Blessings, christen

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Christen Ridley Price

Christen Price blogs at illuminate {formerly the uncontainable truth}, where she offers a light for your path. As wife to her high school sweetheart and mother to premature twin girls and boy, she’s learned that God is the Ultimate Party Planner and sometimes the unexpected is the greatest gift of all. Christen is the Women’s Ministry Coordinator at her church, a lover of exclamation points, and gets way too excited over food and fabric. You can find her on Facebook or on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter @chris10price.
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