Eating healthy as a young adult can be difficult. Busy schedules, tight budgets, and the difficulty of cooking for one are all challenges that prevent young adults from making good nutrition choices. However, by careful planning and smart shopping, you can create healthy and balanced meals that are quick to prepare and budget-friendly.
For a meal plan to meet your specific needs and food habits, ask your healthcare team for a referral to a registered dietitian (RD) who works with cancer survivors. If you continue to lose weight or don’t have enough energy, an RD can help you develop a healthy meal plan.
- Always eat a healthy breakfast.
- A breakfast full of fiber and protein will fuel you with the energy you need to start your day right.
- In too much of a rush to make a healthy breakfast before leaving the house? Try preparing something the night before so that you have no excuse to skip the most important meal of the day.
- Snack smart.
- Use snacks as a time to increase your fruit and vegetable intake.
- Add a healthy form of protein and fiber to your snacks to help hold you over to the next meal.
- Stock your kitchen with items that make meal preparation quick and easy.
- Purchase a cooked rotisserie chicken and use as a source of healthy protein in several dishes.
- Frozen shrimp that is already cooked, peeled, and deveined provides an easy way to enjoy seafood.
- Microwavable brown rice is a speedy way to prepare whole grains.
- Plan ways to reuse key ingredients and repurpose leftovers.
- For example, use last night’s chili to make a quick taco salad by adding lettuce, salsa, and cheese.
- Eating healthy doesn’t mean you can’t eat out.
- Check restaurant websites to look up nutritional information of menu items beforehand. A little research before ordering can help you make healthy meal choices.
- Recruit friends and family to help you achieve your healthy lifestyle goals.
- Keep each other accountable by encouraging smart meal choices, suggesting healthier restaurants, and exercising together.
- To save money and make cooking at home easier, eat dinner with your family, friends, or roommates.
Shopping for One
- Avoid the excuse not to eat fruits and vegetables due to an empty refrigerator.
- Fill your freezer with frozen produce and you will never have to worry about spoilage and waste.
- Compared to fresh produce, frozen fruits and vegetables are equal or sometimes even higher in nutrients because they are picked at the peak of ripeness and flash-frozen to lock in their vitamins and nutrients.
- Another benefit of frozen produce is the minimal preparation needed. It is already washed and sliced, so all you need to do is defrost.
- To decrease the amount of fat and calories, choose frozen vegetables without added sauce or those made with low-fat sauces.
- Buy meat in portions sized for one.
- Make use of your butcher and order small amounts of meat, chicken, fish, or seafood.
- If your grocery store only sells prepackaged meats, separate the package into meal-sized portions at home and freeze until use.
- Visit the store’s deli to purchase smaller portions of lunch meats and sliced cheeses instead of the large prepackaged lunch meats and cheeses.
- If a recipe calls for only a small portion of an ingredient, visit your store’s salad bar.
- Instead of purchasing a full jar of olives or a whole head of cabbage, select just what you need at the salad bar.
- Scale down in the produce section when items are sold by the pound. Take two or three bananas from a larger bunch, remove a few tomatoes off the vine, or divide a large bag of grapes in half.
- If a gallon of milk always seems to go bad before finishing a carton, try purchasing pints of milk instead. Organic milk often has a longer shelf life than regular milk.
- Use the bulk bin section of your grocery store. Instead of purchasing large quantities of items, scoop out only the amount of dry goods you need, like oats, pastas, nuts, dried fruits, and spices.
- Instead of paying more for individual snack bags of chips and cookies, save money by purchasing a larger size and then dividing it into small plastic bags at home.
The following meal plans are based on 2,000 calories per day.