I try to cook healthy homemade meals most days of the week, but the truth is I just can’t do it all.  Like everyone else, I use some convenience (processed) foods on a regular basis.  These are things that decrease stress and are useful when life just gets too busy.  I’d rather use some of these at home than eat out multiple meals a week.  It’s cheaper and healthier to consume most of your meals at home, where you know what’s going into them.

When it comes to processed foods I do try to pick the best choice that my budget allows.  I try to choose cereals without excessive amounts of sugar and artificial colors/ingredients, whole wheat pasta over refined pasta, crackers and breads with at least some whole grains, etc.  With that said, here are five of my favorite convenience foods that I buy on a regular basis:

Crackers

crackers

I always keep a box or two of crackers in my pantry.  My kids like these Back to Nature crackers.  I prefer the Crunchmaster multi-grain crackers that I wrote about here.  I use crackers for peanut butter/almond butter cracker sandwiches in the boys’ lunches.  I also use them to make homemade lunchables.  I pack a little nitrate free ham or turkey, cheese, and crackers and the kids can build their own “lunchable”.  I try to stock up on both types of crackers when they go on sale because they can be expensive otherwise.

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Avocado, Cilantro, Lime Dressing

I have a new dressing recipe to share with you today.  This avocado cilantro lime dressing is the perfect mix of creamy avocado goodness plus the amazing flavor of cilantro.  It’s the perfect dressing for a taco salad or any other type of southwestern salad or dish.  I love it because it adds so much flavor at only about 15 calories per tablespoon.  That’s not bad for dressing!  Not only is it low calorie but it’s a nutrition powerhouse.  The three main ingredients (avocado, cilantro, and Greek yogurt) provide calcium, healthy fats, fiber, and lots of vitamins and minerals.

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two ways to save money and eat better when flying

We recently traveled to Florida to visit my brother and his family.  In order to stick with our healthy habits and save a little money I did two things:  First, we stuck with water and second, we brought our own meals with us to the airport.  I knew we would enjoy plenty of splurges while we were in Florida so I wanted to stick to our normal eating habits during travel.

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easy and healthy dinners

Let’s face it, not everyone likes to cook or has the time to make elaborate home cooked meals each night.  Healthy dinners don’t have to be overly complicated.  I’d say about half of our dinners are super fresh, healthy, use-a-recipe type of meals.  But the rest of them are simple, easy, and use what I happen to have on hand.  I make it a point to keep my fridge, freezer, and pantry stocked with plenty of convenient and healthy options so we don’t have to run through a fast food joint or go out to eat on a regular basis.  Today I’m sharing some of our favorite quick, easy, and healthy meals for those nights I don’t want to cook.

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crunchy oatmeal and dark chocolate chip cookies

I saw these Cookies the other day on A Bountiful Kitchen’s Instagram feed.  I was intrigued, probably because I had some leftover corn flakes from a Christmas recipe I made a few weeks ago.  These cookies are basically a twist on oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  The addition of corn flakes and coconut gives them a little crunch that really elevates these cookies into something special.  I knew I could make a few changes to the original recipe to make them a teeny bit lighter.  I decreased the amount of sugar by 1/2 cup (and they were still very sweet), swapped out all purpose flour for whole wheat pastry flour, and used dark chocolate chips.  I also made 32 cookies instead of 22 and they were still a very good size cookie.  Now, I know they aren’t good for you and are still a treat but I always like making little changes when I can to decrease the amount of sugar and increase the amount of fiber in our foods.  It’s those small changes over time that have helped change our palate in a positive way.

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