I was working at a grocery store in NY the other day when a customer stopped me to ask if we sell “five minute French fries”. To his disappointment, we did not. However, as he walked away I was left wondering just why he doesn’t think he has the additional 10 minutes that fries from scratch would require. More importantly, when did food become so far down on his list that he simply gives himself five minutes to put together his meal?
When I’m not helping someone learn how to choose healthier foods, I’m usually assisting them in figuring out how to fit healthier foods into their day. It is a struggle I deeply and personally understand. Since not providing my family with wholesome meals wasn’t an option for me I had to find a happy medium on how to fit those healthier foods into my day. Let’s call it my “careful” corner cutting solution.
In my home, this careful corner cutting requires that I take full advantage of Guiding Star rated “convenience” items, such as Evol Veggie Fajita Burritos (2 stars). I pair it with Success Boil-in-a Bag brown rice (3 stars) and a can of well-rinsed black beans (3 stars), add a little olive oil, salt, pepper, lime juice and chopped cilantro (if I happen to have it on hand) and voila in no time at all I have a healthy, star-infused meal for my family.
Another careful corner cutting idea for a hearty, healthy meal revolves around a crock pot which I truly believe is man’s best friend. What’s better than having something do all the work for you while you carry on with your way-too-busy day? I start with and highly recommend Bean Cuisine Ultima Pasta E Fagioli soup (3 stars). This soup mix makes ¾ gallon of a hearty soup that is a perfect fit for a slow cooker. When paired with a whole grain bread and salad, it makes a complete meal that is table ready when you get home from a long day and the kids are clamoring to eat.
I know, as a dietitian, it is always important to serve my family greens. I don’t always have time to make a salad, for me it is too much prep. Knowing how important it is to a balanced meal, I remedy that by keeping in my refrigerator a bag of pre-washed lettuce, baby carrots, English cucumber (wash only – no need to peel) and a pepper (wash and cut in half ahead of time). To add some variety, I may add some grape tomatoes. As easy as l, 2, 3, I have a colorful, complete salad with very little prep or chopping. I strongly encourage serving salad with dinner to provide 1-2 servings of vegetables. It also fills you up and this simple salad gets put together in no time.
The long and the short of it is that we can make time for better eating. The dishes I’ve described are delicious and nutritious. By simply moving our meal planning to the top of the priority list instead of the very bottom, you can begin to find ways to feed your family in a healthier and timelier manner. It’s why I look to Guiding Stars…my partner in corner cutting!
About our Consulting Dietitian
Allison Stowell MS, RD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian and a working mom of two. Allison enables individuals to make positive, sustainable changes in their eating habits by stressing conscious eating, improving relationships with food and offering a non-diet approach for reaching and maintaining ideal body weight.
She also runs a successful private practice with offices in Danbury, CT, Bedford Hills, NY and Mahopac, NY. Since 2007, Allison has also worked with the grocer, Hannaford Brothers Corporation, as a Nutrition Coordinator. She provides complementary nutrition classes and tours, community workshops and one-on-one shopping experiences at their Carmel, NY location.
She joins the Guiding Stars team to help people in a number of sectors (grocery, hospitals, schools and universities) to understand how to use the Guiding Stars nutrition navigation program to make healthier food choices.
Allison lives in Connecticut with her husband, two small children and her dog, Chase.