Dieticians recommend eating 80 per cent of meals and snacks as whole foods (meals prepared from scratch) and the other 20 per cent from processed, convenience and restaurant foods. Why is this guideline not that easy to follow? Over the past decade, the fast food industry has exploded. Portion sizes of convenience and restaurant foods have increased and the reliance from the average consumer on these foods has outweighed home cooked meals and snacks.

How do we get back on track? In today’s fast-paced society, food time management is part of a lifestyle strategy. It gives people the tools necessary to eat healthier meals and snacks. Lifestyle gurus are often telling us to work smarter, not harder. How does this apply to the food time management in people’s lives?

There are three main ingredients in the food time management toolbox. The first ingredient is to plan. Always schedule food planning, prepping and shopping time into the weekly routine. Think about the upcoming week, plan out the meals and then take an inventory of what ingredients are in the kitchen and what ingredients need to be purchased. Make a list, and then shop at a convenient time. Once the planning, prepping and shopping time are in the schedule, it will become a stress-free strategy.

The second ingredient is to have an organized system in place for the kitchen. In addition to taking an inventory of the refrigerator, pantry and cupboards, it is important to have a system in place. For example, always put healthy choices on the fridge shelves that are easily accessed, place healthy snacks in a basket on the counter and stock the freezer with nutritious homemade meals (check back for meal planning hints in my next blog).

And finally, the third ingredient is to be mindful of the processed, convenience and restaurant foods. Avoid the fast food restaurants and the frozen convenience aisles in the grocery store at critical meal times. For example, arriving to do the banking at the strip mall with five bustling fast food restaurants at 6 p.m. on an empty stomach can divert and influence people to opt for an unhealthy convenience meals when there are healthy options waiting at home.

Keep these three food time management ingredients in toolbox and enjoy an organized, proactive, mindful strategy to healthy eating 80 per cent of the time, if not more.