Picture this: you’re in a rush, on your way to work or school and you have no time to fix a healthy meal. What do you do? You run through a fast food joint on your way to wherever you’re going or you grab something out of the snack machine. Sound familiar?

One of the most common times we give in to our old ways is when we are in a crunch for time. Luckily, there is an easy fix to that: preparation.  It’s hard to say no to a quick burger while running errands and late for other appointments. But it’s much easier to make good choices when you have a snack with you or know you can pop a meal in the microwave when you get home and eat in a matter of minutes.

Knowing how to be prepared when you’re pressed for time is a must in order to successfully stick to a healthy lifestyle. It seems like a lot of work, but when the time comes to eat on the go, you’ll be glad you prepared accordingly. The following are some great tips on how to be prepared when hunger strikes:

Keep It Simple: Find recipes that aren’t hard to make, have few ingredients, and require little time.

Use Tupperware: Having meals already divided out will relieve the headache of throwing them together before heading out the door.

Establish a “Food Prep Day.”: Whether it’s every Sunday afternoon or in the middle of the week, having a day where you cook or prep most of your meals will free up a lot of time in the long run and avoid those many challenging moments your stomach starts growling.

Try Frozen/Dry Microwavable Foods: Frozen vegetables are easy to store, fast to make (about 5 minutes), and come in a variety of options. Add in your favorite protein and make it a low carb high energy meal.

Plan Your Dinner: Laying out frozen chicken breast or fish in the sink (packaged of course) in the morning will allow plenty of time to defrost, ready to be grilled or baked by the end of the work day. The night before or the day of, plan what will be on the menu that night at dinner. Having a game plan will eliminate time wasted figuring out what to cook or deciding on calorie-heavy take out.

Find Your Staples: What are the favorite foods of the house hold? If chicken and broccoli are popular, make sure to always have those on hand. Are you like the Ferrigno’s? Are tilapia and brown rice a must? Know the family favorites for when you don’t have time to make a grocery store run. These recipes will become second nature and great standby for hectic days.

Start Using Pre-Cooked Meats: Purchasing meat from your local deli like roast beef and roasted turkey as well as rotisserie/grilled chicken is a great way to save time in the kitchen. You can always ask for extra thick slices at your deli to dice or chop for entrees.

Try our Protein ShakesNot only does it take less than 5 minutes to make, it’s a great way to get in part of your daily protein. The right shakes will fill you up with fiber and food carbs, killing your appetite.

Keep Snacks With You: This doesn’t include chips or candy. If you don’t have a full meal prepared, sometimes you need something to simply hold you over. A bag full of unsalted almonds, granola, or apples can be a great snack to munch on to suppress your appetite until your next meal.

Prep and Freeze: What is in your freezer? Ice cream, frozen pizza, sodium-laden microwavable dinners? On your “Food Prep Day,” cook extra brown rice, grilled chicken, sweet potatoes, green beans, or whatever else, separate them into full meals and freeze them. Now, all you’ve got to worry about is heating them up in the microwave for a few minutes.

The Bottom Line

The trick to eating healthy when you’re pressed for time is thinking ahead. All food-prepping tips, including the ones above, are about pre-planning. In order to live healthy, you’ve got to start thinking healthy. By using these tips when hunger strikes, you’ll meet your goals