Making It Work: Part I

by Heather

I have a little bit of what you might call a busy schedule. I’m guessing most of you do too.

While I work from home, I’m still “at work” during the day. The rest of my life happens in the evenings, and I have very few of them.

Fullscreen capture 1062011 91105 AM

Most of my evenings consist of various meetings. I’m on the Board this year for Junior League, which I love. My position essential means a lot of meetings. I also somehow ended up president of the district dietetic association, which I’m not quite as thrilled about yet. That adds another handful of meetings. Add in a few social happenings, and there goes the rest of my evenings and weekends.

One of the most frequent excuses I hear from clients is that they don’t have time to be healthy. The word excuse is a harsh one to use, because it’s completely valid. But it’s also not good enough- you just have to find a way to make it work. I’m almost never home during dinner time, yet I still eat a majority of home cooked meals and still fit in physical activity.

Here’s some ways to make it work for you:

Form a Routine

It’s easy to get things done if you have a schedule or routine. Pick a day for grocery shopping and always do it that day. Set a time for exercise and always do it then. Decide when you’ll prep your meals and stick with it. If it writing down or putting it on a calendar helps, do it.

crockpot oatmeal (500x334)

Pre-Prep Meals

The first time you pull out a knife to prepare a meal, keep it out and prep as much as you can at once. This may mean peeling and chopping vegetables, pre-cooking grains like rice or quinoa, measuring baking ingredients and bagging them up, or chopping nuts. Group things together by meal so they’re reading to go when it’s time to cook.

pre cut veggies to save time

Cook Ahead

Everyone loves leftovers, right? Why not make all your meals leftovers? Instead of just prepping a bunch of meals at once, sometimes I like to fully cook them. All I have to do is reach in the fridge or freezer to serve a meal. Having prepared meals helps me make healthy choices even when I come home late, tired, or starving. Just as easy as fast food; way healthier. This is also makes it easy for the husband to have a home-cooked dinner, even when I’m not home at dinner time.

freezer pizza dough

Think Outside the Box

Most people tend to have simple lunches and more complex dinners. Think “lunch” for dinner- it doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate to be satisfying. Lunch meals tend to be easier to transport, making grab and go dinners easier. Don’t hesitate to have lunch for breakfast or breakfast for dinner it it makes it easier.

Have Set Go-To’s

Having an arsenal of go-to meals is probably what keeps me fed most of the time. There’s a lot to be said for not having to come up with an idea for a meal. I just make sure I always have the ingredients for those meals on hand. This works for meals to cook at home as well as on-the-run foods.

pantry meal black bean enchiladas

Use Your Freezer

Often fresh is best, but when it comes to frozen veggies, as long as they’re not in sauce, they’re just as good, if not better, than fresh. It’s easier to eat veggies when they don’t take any prep work!


If you’re not getting home until late, pack a snack. Waiting too long to eat simply spells disaster.

healthy granola snack

Stay tuned for Part II: Fitting in Exercise.


What strategies do you use to fit health into your busy life?

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun October 6, 2011 at 9:36 am
These are definitely great tips. I'm HUGE on planning and having easy, healthy, go-tos for backup. Like you said, everyone is busy. with enough persistence you can do it. Great post!
Erin October 6, 2011 at 9:50 am
What a great article!! I love it :)
Cat @Breakfast to Bed October 6, 2011 at 10:33 am
If I don't plan it, it doesn't get done. Amen.
suki October 6, 2011 at 12:06 pm
i'd considered joining junior league in SF, but yeah, i have to figure out how to manage my schedule NOW. ;) how do you have time to blog too?
Heather October 8, 2011 at 7:40 am
I don't always get to the blogging part, haha. ;) You should join JL- it's great. (and it doesn't always keep you so busy;))
chelsey @ clean eating chelsey October 6, 2011 at 12:54 pm
I definitely plan ahead to make a healthy lifestyle work!
Heather @ girlyeverafter October 6, 2011 at 4:04 pm
I love these tips and follow a few myself. My husband and I have really busy schedules so I always make meals or one pot dishes that are big enough to give use leftovers through out the week. Coming home and having to head out the door after taking the dog on a walk is easier to do when I can pop a non-frozen meal in the microwave and have chili or soup instead.
Lindsey October 6, 2011 at 6:47 pm
Planning an prep :) I meal plan for the following week Thurs/Fri, buy groceries on the weekend and do any prep for busy days then too. This saves me so much time and keeps us eating healthy and balanced meals!
Kalie October 6, 2011 at 8:23 pm
Love this!
sarah (the SHU box) October 7, 2011 at 7:20 am
love this post! i seriously need an intervention lately!
Alison@Mama Wants This October 7, 2011 at 8:13 am
Great tips - planning ahead is key for me as well.
aquariann October 7, 2011 at 12:12 pm
Great tips! I really need to buckle down and follow them.
Whitney October 8, 2011 at 9:14 am
Bookmarked this post, because while it should be common sense for me, it's totally not. I want to help make the foods we eat healthier and still keep it easy and these tips will definitely help with that! From the LBSTP, by the way. :)
SharleneT October 8, 2011 at 10:28 am
My family has grown, now. I used to prepare larger meals so that I had leftovers for TV dinners of our favorite foods. BUT, they were never labeled, so it was a real potluck for weekend meals. No one was upset because it was from dinners we knew we loved. Having a garden kept us in fresh veggies and prep work was mandatory. Raising a family and running a business demands organization! And, prepping makes all the sense in the world. Thanks to Food Network and others like it, we now know that restaurants have been doing this since the beginning of time and why can't we do the same? You are too cool, lady -- too cool!
Angie October 8, 2011 at 11:10 am
I'm very much a meal-planner and freezer cook, but my favorite of your tips is "pack a snack". For many years I worked at a job where I was constantly on the run for 8, 10, 12 hours, often without time to go to the bathroom, let alone eat something. I kept nuts and dried fruit in my pockets, and that saved me from making a beeline for the nearest fast food drive-thru when I finally left work. It's such an easy tip, but SO valuable! I found you through LBS :)
madebymada - handmade designs October 8, 2011 at 1:07 pm
This is really a problem sometimes.. I am not well organized at all. But I just try to eat more often instead of one big meal before going to bed. It is good way of making break while working. Working at home it is working all the time. Now I stick to yoga classes twice a week and I am trying to eat simple and few times a day Love you post. Mada
Kellie October 8, 2011 at 4:13 pm
I love this! So many people are less busy and make excuses, and it drives me crazy. Everyone is busy, but it's about how you handle it. I agree with all of your plans. Planning meals ahead that are healthy make decisions easy. I am taking graduate classes and working full-time, so exercise only happens on the other nights, but it's those nights that it's a priority.
classycareergirl October 8, 2011 at 7:52 pm
These are such great tips! So glad I found your blog at the Lady Blogger tea party! This post inspired me to prep more meals! I need to plan ahead better when I go to the grocery store. Thanks for the inspiration!
Mary Ellen Quigley October 8, 2011 at 10:34 pm
Great tips! I have a very busy schedule so any tips are greatly appreciated.
Sophie @ LoveLiveAndLearn October 10, 2011 at 8:11 am
These are really fantastic tips! As a student sometimes I can have a really hectic week and when my exhaustion kicks in, strategies like these are what get me through the day making sure I can eat properly so thank you :-)
Amanda Hemp December 7, 2011 at 10:31 am
Umm... In the picture under the title "Have Set Go-To's", I understand everything except the pineapple. Are you putting pineapple on your tacos or enchiladas? So confused. :)
Heather December 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm
Pineapple black bean enchiladas :) Here's the recipe- it's my favorite!

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