Are you a busy millennial in desperate need of some clean eating hacks? Clean eating--or any sort of diet, for that matter--can be especially hard when you are busy. I know this all too well! Millennials are no stranger to the side hustle; we are often balancing day jobs, passion projects, and busy social calendars, all at the same time, making our lives a little crazy. Still, that’s no excuse to be dipping into the McDonalds drive-through in a fit of hunger. I am going to share the best five clean eating hacks for busy millennials. These hacks are guaranteed to keep you clean, even on the busiest weeks!
1. Cook and freeze
Mark off one day a month to spend some time cooking. Get on Pinterest and do some research on clean eating recipes (I always look for hearty soups, gluten-free pasta dishes, or one-pan skillet meals). One of my favorite things to make is this awesome recipe for vegan butternut squash mac ‘n’ cheese! Basically, you want to find four freezer-friendly meals (not salad recipes or anything that will get weird in the freezer). Make all four meals on your cooking day and divide them into individual containers. You may want to invest in a large set of Tupperware, or mason jars, which are great for storing soups! Make sure you are portioning out your meals into single servings and not freezing a giant container of stir fry--the idea is to have meals ready to go when you need them.
On average, you will get about five to six meals per recipe, which means about 20 meals from one afternoon of cooking! Leave out only what you will eat in the next few days and freeze the rest, and then you can defrost the meals as you need them during the month. Doing this once a month is best, so you have time to eat through all your meals while they are relatively fresh.
This hack will keep you from getting sick of eating chicken chili for five meals in a row.
2. Squirrel away some snacks
Yes, you really are going to squirrel away some nuts! Raw nuts are the perfect snack when practicing clean eating. They are packed with protein, kill hunger, and are easy to eat on the go. Keep a stash of nuts at your desk at work, in your car, or even in your purse. When hunger hits and you are drawn to that vending machine, eat your nuts first, and they will settle that urge for a Snickers bar. Almonds are my go-to choice!
3. Quick chop and wash
I am not going to BS you here--meal prepping every week is not for the “busy millennial.” That’s why I suggest giving yourself one day a month to cook those freezer-friendly meals. No one wants to spend their entire Sunday chopping veggies and grilling chicken breast to make their weekly meals. Weekly meal prep is one of those things that sounds good in theory but never really pans out. But some quick chopping, on the other hand, can be a total lifesaver.
Give yourself 30 minutes after you get back from the grocery store to wash the fruit and veggies you bought and to cut things like carrots and celery into sticks. Having food ready to eat during the week will save you time and make you more likely to reach for something healthy, since it will be just as easy to munch on some carrots as on some chips!
4. Dressings on the side
It’s always better to make your own food when you are on a clean eating diet; however, I know that is completely unrealistic for us to do all the time, especially when you are working full time.
When you do go out to eat, salads are always a safe bet. They are a great way to get your leafy greens and you can usually see all the ingredients, so you don't have to worry about hidden processed foods. Salads at home always take time to make, so go ahead and have someone else do the work for you!
Just order your dressing on the side, and if the dressing is ranch (sorry to say this, but that is not clean), order oil and balsamic vinegar on the side instead. You should also request any sort of candied nuts on the side so you can use them at your discretion. The “extras” on the salad are usually where the added sugars and calories are hiding.
5. Protein shakes, bro!!
No, you don’t need to down crazy protein shakes like the meathead at the gym, but protein shakes are such a quick way to cure hunger when you are in a jam.
Read the labels on your protein powder and make sure you are getting one with no added sugar. I love the vegan pea protein from Sprouts! I will put a scoop in the blender with two handfuls of spinach (another way to get those leafy greens!), almond milk, and some frozen berries or cacao powder, and blend it all up.
If you are going to a party or social event where you know there will be limited options as far as clean eating goes, have a protein shake before you leave the house. That way, when you show up to your work holiday party and realize none of the food there is remotely clean, you at least have something in your stomach to hold you over. My husband always laughs at me when I am making a protein shake before a party, but I can’t tell you how many times I have been so thankful I did! Hunger is the worst enemy of any sort of diet, and there is nothing worse than feeling deprived or saying “I can’t eat any of that.”
I hope these five clean eating hacks for busy millennials will help you as much as they help me! If you have any other tips that have helped you keep it clean, I would love to know what is working for you. Please share with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on our Facebook page!
This post was brought to you by guest author Jordis Small