25 Life Hacks to Eat Better

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25 Life Hacks to Eat Better

Though making time for food and preparing meals may sound like a chore, it can be one of the most important keys to the success of your health goals. If cooking at home seems overwhelming now, don’t worry. The more frequently you’re able to use the following tricks, the less overall time meal planning will take down the road. Before you know it, healthy lifestyle choices will become habits.

For everyone racing through life at warp speed, these tips can help you to make the most of your time in the kitchen.

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Keep it simple. Instead of following some fad diet with lots of rules, keep your healthy eating routine simple. Eat real food that’s mostly plants with lots of color and variety. Balance every meal with high-quality proteins like lean meat, fish, tofu or beans and complex carbs like brown rice, potatoes, quinoa, and healthy fats like avocado, nuts, seeds and olive oil. Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables to meet your daily fiber needs while keeping calories in check.

Don’t bring junk into the house. If you’re easily swayed to nosh on chips, cookies and ice cream, keep the processed snacks out of the house. This simple trick makes healthy eating easy. Out of sight, out of mind.

Eat more fat. Yes, you read that right. People who snack on healthy fats like a handful of almonds eat fewer calories over the course of the day because they feel more satisfied. So don’t skimp on fat; it keeps you fuller for longer so you will, in turn, eat less. Try these 6 high-fat foods that are good for you.

Make lunch the night before. Stop telling yourself you’ll have time to pack a lunch on your way out the door in the morning. While you’re cleaning up from dinner, put together your lunch for the next day. Whether it be leftovers from dinner or a mason jar salad, planning ahead makes it easy to walk out the door with a healthy lunch.

Use Pinterest with a purpose. Make a board of “Must-Make Meals” filled with weeknight go-tos so that when you’re planning and prepping your meals you know right where to turn (or scroll to). Take it a step further and organize recipes by category like “chicken,” “fish,” “vegetarian,” to get more variety in your diet.

Carry a water bottle. Because hydration is a vital part of being healthy, make it a priority to carry a water bottle around with you and refill it throughout the day. The Institute of Medicine recommends men that drink 120 ounces and women 90 ounces of fluid per day. If you’re active, you will need to replace what you lost through sweat as well. Here are some more great tips to stay hydrated!

Eat on a schedule. A person who eats 2,000 calories throughout the day will often have more energy and tend to lose more weight than the person who eats the same amount of calories all at one meal. By skipping meals or ignoring our hunger cues, we force our bodies to run off of fumes. Listen to your body when it says it’s hungry and you will find that it’s easier to resist the temptation of overeating later at night.

Make breakfast in 90 seconds. Breakfast doesn’t need to be a large production; keep it simple for mornings when you have to be out of the house fast. Homemade breakfast burritos are a fast, simple way to grab a meal in the morning using only a microwave. Place one 6-inch tortilla in a cereal bowl and crack an egg onto the tortilla. Add toppings like green chilies, a sprinkle of cheese, onions and leftover roasted veggies from the night before. Microwave for 90 seconds or until the egg is cooked. Top with salsa and voila: breakfast in 90 seconds.

Catch some ZZZs. Getting enough shut eye at night goes a long way to protecting your body. Because hormones are regulated while you sleep, people who get quality sleep on a daily basis tend to make better food choices and have slimmer waistlines.

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Stockpile healthy snacks. Say sayonara to the office candy stash or a drive through when mid-day hunger strikes. Keep healthy snacks on you at all times—pile them in your office drawer, fridge, gym bag and purse. Convenient go-tos include nuts, homemade trail mix, fruit and nut bars, apples, bananas, clementines, single-serve nut butters, dried edamame and air-popped popcorn. If you have refrigeration, stock up on Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and hard-boiled eggs for protein-packed snacks.

Choose whole grains. Make a simple swap in your eating routine by choosing 100% whole grains instead of highly processed white or enriched grains. Whole grains, like steel cut oats, brown rice, barley and 100% whole grain bread or pasta, provide greater nutrition from energy rich B-vitamins to filling fiber. Bonus: Whole grains have a lower glycemic index and glycemic load, meaning they won’t spike your blood sugar as much as simple carbs.

Create a shopping list. Plan your meals and build a list. When you shop from a list, unnecessary temptations don’t land in your grocery cart; your bill (and you) will be more fit as a result.

Grocery shop once per week. When you’re busy, popping into the grocery store on a daily basis is a waste of your precious time. Instead, organize your schedule and plan to go grocery shopping at the beginning of the week to be more efficient.

Go for frozen foods. Frozen produce can be a healthy alternative to fresh foods, and they will last longer too. Fruits and veggies are picked at their peak of ripeness and flash frozen to retain the most nutritional value. Some good staples are corn, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, edamame and spinach. Don’t forget about protein too—frozen proteins like shrimp, salmon, tilapia and even chicken can make weeknights easier. Tip: Stay away from frozen foods that are packed in sauces and syrups.

Opt for pre-chopped veggies. Trouble cutting up butternut squash? Have a crying fest when you chop an onion? Buy pre-cut veggies so all you need to do is cook and eat. Stock up on diced onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, celery, broccoli and cauliflower florets, diced butternut squash and baby carrots to make your life easier.

Shop the salad bar. If you have trouble eating all of your veggies before they go bad, or only need a quarter cup of onion for a recipe, try an alternative approach. You can buy just the right amount for you and pay by the ounce by stocking up on veggies from your grocers’ salad bar. This will save you prep time too. Try adding common salad bar items to meals like omelets, stir-fry or homemade pizza.

Shop at the farmer’s market. It’s nearly effortless to fill up on fresh local produce and eggs when you gather your food at the farmer’s market. Though farmer’s markets have a reputation for being pricey, seasonal produce is often competitively priced with what you’ll find at the grocery store. As long as you can bypass the kettle corn, you’re golden.

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Prep for meals in advance. Being proactive about meal planning can save a lot of time and stress in the long run. While the upfront work may sound scary, you’ll be thankful when you find yourself running late and only have a few minutes to eat. Pick a day or a night to prepare several meals that you can simply warm up throughout the week. Or take the time to separate your snacks into portion-controlled bags that you can grab on your way out the door. Raw vegetables are always a simple, nutrient-dense option. If you’re new to meal planning, check out our great beginner’s guide, which is full of tips and tricks to get started.

Fall back on family favorites. Instead of wracking your brain and reinventing the wheel each week, have a list of (healthy) recipes that you know your family will enjoy. This makes meal planning easier and saves you time in the long run. Working with recipes that you know by heart makes cooking less of a hassle.

Plan for leftovers. If you are preparing a large meal, double the batch. Prepare one to serve and the other to put in the freezer or fridge. This way you have double the food but half the mess! You can also prepare extra chicken or steak to cut up and add to a salad to make for a filling lunch the next day.

Prep a big soup. Soups are a simple way to eat more produce and fiber-rich beans. Opt for homemade, broth-based soups instead of creamy ones. Make a big batch and freeze some of it for another week. Pour single servings into to-go containers to make it easy to grab and go for work lunches. Sip on soup for lunch to fill your body up with good stuff.

Blend your veggies. Add a smoothie or fresh juice to get a few servings of fruits and veggies in your diet. Smoothies make a great breakfast or snack. Make them yourself so that you’re in control of the ingredients. If you’re making it a meal or want a snack that lasts,blend fruits and veg with proteins like Greek yogurt, kefir or milk and healthy fats like cashews, nut butters, avocado or coconut oil.

Make mason jar salads. Not only do these look awesome, but they also make salads fun and functional. No more oddly shaped to-go containers that don’t fit right in a lunch box and never seem to get dry in the top rack of the dishwasher. Prep a salad in a mason jar by filling the bottom of the jar with a simple, vinegar-based dressing, toppings like chickpeas or grilled chicken, chopped veggies, feta cheese, apples, nuts and seeds and lots of greens at the top. Seal tightly with a lid. When you are ready to eat, just shake the jar and dump into a bowl. Once you start using the mason jar, you’ll be taking salads to work on the daily.

Batch roast your veggies. Before your week begins, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and roast off your favorite veggies like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, mushrooms, butternut squash, kale and sweet potatoes. This small step will help ensure healthy eating during the week. Toss roasted veg on a salad, in an omelet or breakfast scramble, serve on the side of grilled chicken or in a wrap. To roast vegetables, preheat oven to 425 degrees, line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, arrange veg on baking sheet not to overcrowd the pan, mist veg with olive or coconut oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for 25-45 minutes, depending on toughness of the veggies, until vegetables begin to turn brown and crisp.

Stock your pantry. Pantry staples make it easy to whip up a dinner in no time flat. Convenient pantry items include low-sodium canned beans, canned tuna, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, nut butter, mixed nuts, unsweetened dried fruit, and whole grains like oats, brown rice and whole-grain pasta.

With your mile-long to-do list, how do you make healthy eating easier?

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  • Mazi

    Great tips, thank you!

  • Cheryl

    I hate doing chores (like grocery shopping) on the weekend so I decide on Sunday what I’m going to make for dinner for the week. I buy a salad for lunch on Monday and then go grocery shopping and buy all my salad ingredients for lunch the rest of the week and my dinner items. I make a big bowl of salad, cut up veggies and fruit, put in single serving baggies and make one big batch of whatever’s for dinner that week. Then the rest of the week, all I have to do it throw some fresh salad in a to-go container and grab a veggie bag for lunch and heat up dinner. Monday’s are long and a lot of work but it makes the rest of the week a breeze and it’s worth it for me! As an incentive, I count all the Monday work as my daily workout so I only workout Tuesday – Friday.

  • Guest

    ahoo.comthing that makes it easier is to have your knives sharpened professionally. It’s fun and cheaper plus safer to cut your whole foods than pre-bagged, twice as high produce. It’s also additional exercise. Look at most chefs arms or constant home cooks arms, there working there arms using sharp knives professionally sharpened that will slide through a butternut squash with ease. If you need recommendations to Japanese trained sharpeners than let me know. james@bullockbladesandsharpening.com or jmbullman69@yahoo.c

  • James Bullman

    It’s easier and cheaper, along with the exercise you get by chopping your own veggies than buying the pre-bagged Stuff. Have your knives professionally sharpened by a pro who uses Japanese Whetstone’s and gets them razor sharp. References given at jmbullman69@yahoo.com

    • Vanessa Hutcheson

      Cheaper, yes. Easier, no. It creates dishes and rotting garbage, and at the end of a long day can be the straw that broke the hungry, harried dieter’s mind. Nice article-relevant spam, but I really do like having veggies ready to go. It’s like I outsourced my sous chef.

      • oldcargirl62@gmail.com

        Chopping logs with an axe is exercise, chopping veggies is preparing a meal. Even though it’s a few dollars more at the checkout, my time is more valuable doing other things than chopping most veggies. Some I will do, like cut up an apple into bite size pieces which i can more manageably eat at work than a whole apple in my hand ( I use an hors’deurve pick to eat them with. I like to prepare some foods ahead of time for a busy week, keeps us on track with healthy choices leaving time for work outs, playing with the dogs and meaningful mental exercise. Sliced/cubed meats for snacks, cheese chunks pre bagged, nuts portioned out, eggs boiled in advance keeps me saying no to donuts! Pretty good article for those who don’t already have that lifestyle.

    • jayne190

      As someone who lives on my own, a pre-bagged salad saves me time and also money from throwing out veggies, especially lettuce.

  • Claudine

    I’ve found that scrambled eggs keep very well in a container in the refrigerator. I make a big pan of them at the beginning of the week. (I add onions and peppers when cooking). I keep them in a glass storage bowl and heat them on a tortilla with salsa and a 1/2 slice of cheddar for breakfast burritos during the week. Sometimes we add a little of precooked sausage too. It’s a quick way to have eggs without the cooking time or mess to clean up every morning. I find that the eggs last for at least 4 days in the fridge.

  • I’ve started using packs of frozen green veg, they are already cut up and save me so much more $’s in time.

    • Yeah, this is a great substitute if you can’t buy fresh everyday. I do the same thing, I buy organic frozen veggies and cook them in a pot. And it’s awesome.

      Quick freeze veggies really are the way to, and many companies freeze them just after cutting them, which traps in the nutrients. Much better than canned veggies: I don’t ever buy canned.

      You’re right, I just don’t have time to cut veggies,and that’s why I buy this way too.

    • Yeah, this is a great substitute if you can’t buy fresh everyday. I do the same thing, I buy organic frozen veggies and cook them in a pot. And it’s awesome.

      Quick freeze veggies really are the way to, and many companies freeze them just after cutting them, which traps in the nutrients. Much better than canned veggies: I don’t ever buy canned.

      You’re right, I just don’t have time to cut veggies,and that’s why I buy this way too.

  • Cameron

    Since when do our bodies ‘run off of fumes’ of we skip a meal?

    • Krob

      It’s a methaphor

    • Sean

      Yeah science disagrees. It’s calories in vs. calories burned, period. I’m sick of hearing you won’t lose weight if you skip meals, that’s just not accurate.

      • NIGEL

        Not eating actually slows down your metabolism because the body to wants to store energy – at least that’s the theory.
        My reality is that I have lost 27 pounds in 9 weeks by skipping lunch most days. Only 35 pounds to go…

        • Rick

          Actually, the research doesn’t support this common myth. That’s why things like intermittent fasting and bulletproof coffee have been gaining in popularity.

          • Tina Toburen

            My personal research supports that “myth” quite well.

            When I did intermittent fasting – skipping breakfast and maintaining a 8-9 hour eating window, I GAINED weight.

            Sure, Calories in minus Calories burned = Calories gained/lost

            BUT Calories burned is a function of MANY different things.

            When I did IF, my core body temperature dropped – like a rock. Exercise or not, my “calories burned” went down as my “Calories in” went down… net weight change was UP not down.

            I started losing weight when I started EATING MORE. My energy level is up, temperature is up, hands and feet are warm… and I’m HAPPY!! 🙂 Which is a much better equation for lasting health.

            Fasting just doesn’t work for everybody. People are too diverse of a genetic pool to say one thing will work for everyone. THAT is the myth.

          • nbgiant25

            You have some severe medical issue that needs attention if your core temperature dropped to any significant level due to a 16 hour fast. That doesn’t prove that IF doesn’t work, it proves that you have a personal issue that has nothing to do with the average.

        • JofJLTNCB6

          But it’s a theory that has been disproven…many many times.

        • nbgiant25

          If you need to lose weight (especially lots of it), you’re working at an energy surplus and there is no slowing of metabolism in the period in which most people intentionally fast as part of their lifestyle.

          I lost 70+ lbs by eating most of my food during a 6 hour window each day.

          • Tina Toburen

            My point is: We’re all unique.

            My first fasting day was ok, but continued IF slowly but surely brought my metabolism to a screeching halt. I was COLD as my body prioritized calories for other uses.

            No longer. I need to eat. That’s me. You’re different, obviously.

            And, for the human race, what is “average”?? does that mean it applies to 90% of the world population? 70%? 50.01? or just “many”?

            And is that “average” for people with ancestry including Scandinavian? Mediterranean? African? Asian? Islander? Persian? etc. Does that take into account environmental variances from activity, like body builders, marathon runners and cubicle workers??

            “Average” is a blanket term, and to say someone has a serious problem because they don’t fit “average” IF responses is a bit self-centered.

        • False. Look into intermittent fasting…. sounds like you’re inadvertently doing it.

      • person

        First you gain weight, because your body opens up the fat it stores. Then, once that energy is used you begin to lose weight. But first you gain it. It’s still not a healthy thing to do; drinking more water works better.

      • Leigh Hill

        No Sean a calorie with high carbs is worse than a calorie with no carbs.

    • HK4Seven

      If I skip meals and get hungry I get cranky and don’t think as clearly, and then I’m prone to making poor choices about food. So there’s that angle too.

  • Jill

    I like the idea of mason jar salads – can’t wait to try it. I actually like chopping my own veggies and using the parts I don’t eat for making homemade stock. I realize chopping and/or making homemade stock doesn’t appeal to everyone, but if buying frozen veggies as a time saver helps someone make better food decisions – do it 🙂

  • Scoob

    Online shopping helps you avoid the naughty aisles

    • Arianna

      Can you buy produce online?

      • FitFroglet

        You can in the UK

  • Don’t Microwave Your Eggs!

    My only issue here is the “90 second breakfast burrito”. The time should include prep-time in the total, making it a 3-minute breakfast burrito. Also, cracking an egg into a skillet for a quick scramble should take about 90 seconds, so the microwave doesn’t really save you any time. Just sayin’. Unless you don’t have a stove, I don’t see why you would cook an egg in the microwave!

  • Matt_R2

    This is all such great advice but I especially like the paragraph that began with Keep it Simple. Well said!

  • Brooke

    We don’t have a microwave, there are studies that it actually kills the nutrients in your food. For breakfast I usually do a protein shake with almond milk!

  • Great tips! Thanks!

  • Katy Hunt

    except I do all this 🙁

  • Cathy Cody

    frozen berries with greek yogurt or cottage cheese. pack them in the morning and they are ready for break at work. low sodium chicken stock (6 pack from costco) w a bit of soy sauce in a thermos for lunch . bags of snap peas for snacks. quinoa in salad. stock pile veggies into chili and lean turkey meatloaf.

  • When I was on diet I used Pinterest to get new ideas about my meals. It’s amazing how many ways of cooking exist. Thanks to this inspiration I have been able to lose 120 pounds. I’m very proud of it.
    I started to write a blog, because I think that motivation and success must be shared.
    Hope to see you there 🙂

  • alfabdall

    Have a good backup meal planned for dinner in case the day goes awry. For me, it is progresso light soups; or salad with ham or egg and light dressing. That way if I eat badly in the day, I can still stay within my calorie limits. These are both roughly 100 calories.

  • Erin

    I don’t think hack means what you think it means.

  • oneontheedge

    Here’s a super-quick, super low calorie, tons of protein microwave omlet:
    Buy a quart sized carton of eggs whites, box of prewashed spinach, and bag of shredded cheese. Use for microwave omelets as follows: get a microwave safe soup/salad bowl, pour in about a half cup of egg whites, cook in micro for about 2 min at 60% power (or however it works best in your micro; you may need to experiment with time and power). Throw on it a tablespoon of shredded cheese (I buy bags of pre-shredded cheese), and a handful of spinach that you’ve cut into shreds. You can add other vegetables if you want, or a tablespoon or 2 of hummus if you want. Return it to the micro for 30-60 seconds. After pulling it out of the micro, use a spoon to loosen the entire bottom of the omelet by scraping around the sides in one continuous motion, then flip one half over the other using the spoon. Let it cool for a minute or so, then eat it with the same spoon you used to flip it over. Spice it if you wish.
    I sometimes add fresh basil or a spoon of goat cheese instead of cheddar. This tastes super good and can be easily varied, and I can always do it on the run and for less than 200 calories for a high protein, low carb meal. And I like that there’s no pan to clean and it doesn’t require any fat to cook it. I’ve used it with both glass and ceramic bowls and it’s always loosened up really easily.

  • h4x0r

    TIL ‘making a shopping list’ is a “hack.” *eyeroll*

  • BeaElle

    Just a note concerning water intake, the recommendation from the Institute of Medicine is for all fluids, including all beverages and foods. The article reads as if a woman should be drinking 90 ounces of water every day. The IM recommendations are more like 72 ounces of combined beverages. “The report set general recommendations for water intake…which showed that women who appear to be adequately hydrated consume an average of approximately 2.7 liters (91 ounces) of total water — from all beverages and foods — each day, and men average approximately 3.7 liters (125 ounces) daily. About 80 percent of people’s total water comes from drinking water and beverages — including caffeinated beverages — and the other 20 percent is derived from food.”

  • Hi Kristina – I agree these tips. I don’t even bring junk food into the house – even as a treat. If it comes in, then I will somehow end up eating it. Even having the most willpower in the world can’t stop someone from snacking on something in their very own kitchen. What do you think of meal plans? Having each meal planned out in advance so there is little room to eat something unhealthy.

  • Nice tips. I think everyone should live for eat.

  • Thank you for this vegetarian recipe post, I love vegetarian food and I was searching for this recipe last two weeks and finally I got it in your blog. I am very glad to read to read this recipe thanks again for this nice post.

  • Ask Helen

    Eating on a schedule is really great and you can never go wrong with water, always stay hydrated! Awesome life hacks! I need to take note all of these. Thanks for the advice! 🙂

  • Commenter

    wow hacks now means tips. you all can be hackers now

  • Catherine

    Thanks for all the Great Tips for eating more healthy! I’m taking all of them to heart and planning myself accordingly! Looking forward to a more healthier lifestyle

  • jessicag

    The more creative and fun your meal is, higher the chances that your child is likely to eat.