Healthy Eating on a Busy Mom Schedule

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on January 28, 2013

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Last week, my life became exponentially more busy. The time I have spent recently on resting, reading (and even sleeping) is now filled with spending precious time with my newest little one, my bigger boys and the other demands of keeping up with everyone. Even as I’m finding myself in “survival mode,” it’s still very important to me to continue eating healthy, even though my “busy-ness” level just increased 18 fold with having a newborn. Healthy eating, and specifically when on a crazy busy schedule, can easily fall by the wayside. I’m bound and determined to not let that happen.

Bottom line, it comes down to choices. And making the choice to eat healthful foods on a weekly, daily and even hourly  basis. It’s through the daze and fatigue of “busy-ness” that makes this difficult.

Here are the 5 ways that I’ll be working hard to implement in the coming weeks as we adjust to life with 4 littles and the increased demands of a newborn. These tricks help me make the best choices on what I fuel my body with each day:

  1. Plan and Scan – Make a mental plan each night while you’re cleaning up from dinner of what your food and snack options are for the next day. Will breakfast be cereal, hot cereal, scrambled eggs with avocado slices? What healthy snack options do you have for when you get the munchies? What’s on the menu for dinner and do you need to do any preparation in advance to make the “witching hour” go smoothly for you?
  2. Pre-Prep – Spending just 10 or 15 minutes on Sunday evening, chopping veggies or cutting up fresh fruit can go a long way. This will allow you to quickly grab something healthy when you get a hankering for something in the middle of the afternoon.
  3. Grab n Go Snacks – And while on the subject of “grab n go”…stock your pantry with easy “grab and go snacks” like Pantry Trail Mix, almonds, dark chocolate covered pomegranates (dark chocolate is healthy, right?!), homemade popcorn and crudités and a simple Hidden Valley ranch dip.
  4. Salad A Day– Keep your favorite salad lettuce and toppings on hand and plan to eat salad for lunch or as a side/main dish for dinner.  Just be sure not to slop the dressing on too heavy, or you’ll end up with more calories than a fast food meal!
  5. Choose Treats Wisely – Of course, there will be some cookies and treats in the mix, but when and how many of those to enjoy is also a choice. So making a conscious choice of how many I will enjoy, even verbalizing it to my husband, helps me keep my sweet tooth in check.

Your turn!

I’d love to hear your tips for keeping a busy schedule, and keeping up with healthy eating and lifestyle! Do you have any tricks that you’ve found work well for you?

Disclosure: This post is part of a sponsored campaign with Hidden Valley. All thoughts, opinions are my own.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Brianna January 28, 2013 at 7:57 pm

I always like to make a few frozen entrees (burritos, soup, pasta) whatever for the lunches or dinners I won’t be able to handle. I’m not the best at predicting the crazy nights, so the freezer really helps out. I only do a couple of things on Sunday afternoon, so that my freezer isn’t swamped and we don’t get overwhelmed.


Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom January 29, 2013 at 3:44 pm

I like the Sunday afternoon prep idea Brianna! Smart planning!



Danielle S January 28, 2013 at 8:14 pm

I like to take some “Mom Time” on Saturday or Sunday night, after my 4year old daughter is in bed. I take out a bunch of my cookbooks, cooking magazines, and things I’ve printed off that look yummy. I sit down and look through the sale flyers, my list of what I have on hand in my pantry and freezer, and then make a list of the week’s recipes. I really only make a list of dinner menus, since breakfast and lunch are pretty much covered all the time. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years and it allows us to have choices for dinner, until we get to the end of the week of course. Before I became at stay at home Mom, the rule was whomever got home from work first got to pick dinner(and make it). Now it serves as a Weekly Menu that’s posted on the fridge. Everyone can see what we’ll be having. We save money by pre-planning and we eat healthfully too.


Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom January 29, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Love these Danielle…thanks for sharing!



cassie l January 28, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Hubby mentioned yesterday that he wanted to go to a local joint for a burger and beer on Friday. Today he figured out I get paid on Thursday and suggested we go Thursday night instead to give me a “break from the non-stop cooking you’ve done the last two weeks”. Super sweet thought and one that I used to rely on every 3rd or 4th day. But I realized as we were eating tonight that it isn’t that difficult to prepare a meal for us to eat. The difference in the last two weeks is that I planned out meals and made sure we had everything on hand so that I didn’t hit the ‘it’s time to eat right this minute and nothing is prepped’ or ‘i don’t have all the ingredients’. Either scenario led to us eating out instead. So I’m going to continue to take the time and effort to plan out meals to fix each week, leaving myself the flexibility to switch up the nights.


Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom January 29, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Great plan Cassie! You said it best right here – “But I realized as we were eating tonight that it isn’t that difficult to prepare a meal for us to eat.” I think you are right on! Having had a plan for yourself for 2 weeks straight really brought this to light for you!

Keep it up!



momof2cubs January 28, 2013 at 9:01 pm

I remember those days of newborns. I didn’t get a lot of cooking done to be serious. My mom was gracious enough to stay with us, for a few weeks after my c-section. Very lucky. I did have a few things in the freezer ready to heat up like a few chicken dishes….enchiladas and chili. My husband helped me with those. Was on bed rest for a few weeks before hand. Not much time on my feet.


amy goins January 28, 2013 at 9:12 pm

love your ideas… i have 3 kiddos (6, 3,1) and a puppy.. life gets crazy sometimes.. menu planning helps us to know what we can have, but we are not great at sticking to the plan yet.. I am now an Emeals ( subscriber, and that helps too.. Recently got a notepad for the fridge from http://www.theorganizedparentcom lets us check off when we are ALL OUT OF something.. and add items we realize we need.. Can’t wait to see how that helps me.. My biggest time saver and sanity saver is fruit.. I can always give the kids and myself fruit for a snack.. & because most of it sits on the counter, it is in my line of sight before i get to the less healthy snacks..


Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom January 29, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Amen to the “in my line of sight” comment Amy! I’m right there with you!!!



Kathy G January 28, 2013 at 9:25 pm

I used to sit down on Sunday nights with the sales and menus and plan out my meals including snacks for the week. Id make my grocery list and go shopping Monday mornings when the stores seem to be less crowded. I was better able to take my time, find better deals, and do less impulse buying…I am now trying to get back into that habit. We had better snacks on hand and always had the ingredients for healthy meals.


Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom January 29, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Sounds like getting back to this routine would be a great goal for February!

I’m looking forward to getting back into this routine once baby gets a little older and settles into his routine!



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