School has begun and so fall is upon us. I adore fall, with the change of leaves and the crisp air beckoning a hoodie, it’s a refreshing change and a reminder of all the exciting things that lie in the months ahead. It’s also the dawn of the busy season, where your schedule changes quicker than the weather on an October day and you find yourself eating on the go more often than not.
Like the unnecessary onslaught of all things pumpkin spice, fall throws in your face the challenge to be at many places at different times. There are sports practices, music lessons, religious education, PTA meetings, and of course homework and projects that need completing. You suddenly find your family moving at a harried speed in an effort to be on time and in time! And the question of “when the heck do we eat?” arises. The convenience of take out calls our name and feels like an easy solution to a busy week.
But nothing, and I mean nothing, will consume your budget like eating on the go. Convenience food equals expensive food and often-unhealthy food. It’s a big challenge in our constantly on the go world to met the trifecta of dining; affordable, healthy and convenient. But I’m here to tell you with some planning and prep work it is possible. And while I can’t make the craziness of fall disappear I can provide some tips to make it a bit more manageable. Read on.
How to Master Budget-Friendly Eating on the Go:
- Strategize the week. A little planning can go a long way when it comes to conquering the fall rush. Grab the calendar and organize the week from car pool to the grocery list down to the dinner menu. This strategy will help you stay focused and avoid mid-week meltdowns when the to-do list is longer then the hours in the day. It also avoids wallet-busting take out trips and mid-week grocery runs. Knowing what days you are on the run and when you will be home means you can create food options that seamlessly fit with your schedule.
- Prep, prep, prep. I think we all know preparation is key to so many things including saving money and eating healthy. Set aside time on Sunday to chop, dice, sort and fill your way to a successful week. In the amount of time it takes to watch Grey’s Anatomy you can have a weeks worth of healthy snacks ready to go. Focus on fruits that keep well, apples and bananas are affordable and ready to go choice. Save money and buy the store brand cheese blocks and dice or cube them in to ready to go serving sizes. Mix them with some almonds and dried cranberries and you have a protein packed snack for on the go. Buy the large bag of whole carrots to peel and cut. You’ll have three times the amount of carrots for the same price as one bag of baby sized carrots. For the price of one trip to the convenience store you can have a whole week of ready to go, healthy snacks.
- Pack a cooler. Don’t put the cooler and ice packs away just because pool and beach season is over. Keeping a small cooler with you as you play taxi cab driver will help stave off hunger and avoid the trap of stopping for food. Fill the cooler with the veggies, fruit, and cheese you’ve already portioned as well as some squeezable yogurts and cold water. The kids can grab a quick, healthy snack en route to practice, in between lessons, or while they watch their sibling’s game. Let them know up front the snack bar is off limits and take out is not an option.
- Make friends with your slow cooker. Aside from the dishwasher the slow cooker may very well be the best kitchen invention. You’ve bussed the kids from one side of town to the other all while fending off hunger with your well packed on–the-go snack arsenal. But dinner still beckons and so does a hot shower and bed after a busy day. Don’t make the night longer by cooking dinner, let your slow cooker do the work. Crockpot sandwiches are a great way to get the family fed quickly. Open roll, fill sandwich and on the plate it goes. Round out the meal with some of the salad you’ve already made during your Sunday evening prep and every one is happy and full. I don’t need to tell you that Pinterest is the place to go for recipes; there is no shortage and its simple to find ones that fit in with a healthier lifestyle.
After a relaxing and laid-back summer the fall routine can hit you like a ton of bricks. Don’t let it bring you, the family, or the budget down. With these simple tips you can keep all three in check even with the jam-packed schedule. Fall is a time of change but that doesn’t have to mean stress. A little planning and prep means you can enjoy fall and some budget-friendly eating on the go.
First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:4769984, copyright:monkeybusiness
Second image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:53042145, copyright:JAlcaraz
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Janine Huldie says
Cannot stress enough how much we need this here as our family schedules have been insane the past few weeks with back to school and more. So definitely cannot thank you enough for sharing your tips here with me 😉
suzanne brown says
You are welcome! This is always an insane time of year.
Eating on the go get expensive fast, I don’t eat fast food so I’m usually stuck with protein boxes from Starbuck, don’t keep my full of a long time. I like the suggestion of prepping healthy food to take on the go. I used to food prep and I loved it because I always had healthy food to fuel my long days. I think I’m going to start it again. The slow cooker is a celebrity around my house, it’s perfect weather for soups, stews, and anything else you decided to make.