The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

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Guest Nutritionist: 30 Minutes a Week to a Healthier You

Guest Nutritionist: 30 Minutes a Week to a Healthier You

Dietitian Dialogues

February 26, 2014

Sarah-Jane Bedwell, RD, LDN

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” You may have heard this quote before, but have you ever thought about how it applies to living a healthy lifestyle. In my new book, Schedule Me Skinny: Plan to Lose Weight and Keep it Off in Just 30 Minutes a Week, I show how spending just 30 minutes a week planning and prepping healthy meals can help you live the healthier lifestyle you’ve always wanted despite your busy schedule. Here are some tips for preparing for success!

Be Strategic When Shopping:
The Food Marketing Institute reports that for every 1 minute we spend in a grocery store we spend $2. That's why it's important to have a strategic grocery list that is organized by area of the store. If all the produce you need is listed together, all the meat is listed together, and so on, not only will this get you in and out of the store faster, but you are also more likely to stick to your list and therefore spend less money due to reduced impulse buys. Plus, you can use the list to check how healthy your groceries are – if most of them are from the perimeter of the store, you're doing great!

Stock Up on Nutrient-Rich Value Foods: 
So what foods should you put on your grocery list? I have a whole list of healthy grocery buys that cost $2 or less each! Here are a few of the items that give you the best nutritional-bang for your buck:

-3lbs. bananas

-skim milk (1/2 gallon)

-can of beans

-can of tuna/salmon

-100% whole wheat pasta

-frozen mixed veggies

Prep for Success:
Part of the Schedule Me Skinny 30 Minute Power-Planning Session is to spend 15 minutes at the beginning of the week prepping food so that meals can be put together in just minutes all throughout the week. To prep, first I recommend cooking one large batch of whole grain or starchy vegetable (such as quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, potatoes, etc.). Next, I recommend washing and chopping hearty veggies (like peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, carrots, etc.). Finally, I recommend measuring out single portions of added fats (cheeses, nuts, salad dressings, etc.) into baggies or small containers for easy portion control during the busy work week. Then, on a hectic week night, you can simply throw together these elements you've already prepped along with an easy protein source, such as canned salmon or tuna or drained and rinsed canned beans to make a quick, healthy dinner, like my Mediterranean Quinoa Bowl** recipe, which can also be used for lunch the next day!

Plan to Keep an Emergency Snack Stash on Hand:
To keep your energy levels up, your metabolism going strong, and to prevent over-eating, it is important to eat something every 4 hours or so. If it's longer than 4 hours between meals, snacks are important. Since you never know where you'll be when the munchies strike, it's smart to have a stash of snacks that don't have to be refrigerated in your car/purse/desk. I have a list of these emergency snacks, but a few examples include: dried fruit and nuts, an apple and lean beef jerky, or a banana and single serving peanut butter packet. All these snack options should be around 200 calories and include both a whole grain or a fruit/veggie AND a protein or healthy fat for staying power. Keeping your own snacks on hand will prevent you from spending money on over-priced junk food from a vending machine or drive through and save you the time of trying to find or fix a snack!

What’s your favorite meal-planning strategy?


**Mediterranean Quinoa Bowl

This simple supper combines wonderful savory Mediterranean flavors with staying power from protein powerhouses, fish and quinoa.

4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbsp. red wine or balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

8 cups baby spinach

2 cups cooked quinoa

12 oz. canned salmon or tuna, drained

6–7 oz. crumbled Feta

1 cup artichoke hearts (optional)

1 cup tomatoes, diced

1 cup cucumbers, diced

½ cup Kalamata olives, sliced (optional)

Whisk together the first three ingredients and season with salt and pepper to make the dressing. Set aside. In a large bowl, layer the baby spinach, quinoa, salmon or tuna, Feta, artichoke hearts (if desired), tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives (if desired). Serve with dressing on the side. Enjoy!

Yield: 4 servings. 

Nutrition facts per serving: 430 calories, 21g fat, 5g sat fat, 800mg sodium, 31g carbs, 6g fiber, 30g protein, 45% DV vitamin A, 25% DV vitamin C, 20% DV calcium, 35% DV iron.


Sarah-Jane Bedwell is a registered dietitian, national speaker, and media personality. Sarah-Jane’s mission is to help people achieve a higher quality of life through food and nutrition. As the official food and nutrition blogger for SELF Magazine, a national women's health and fitness magazine, she has a valuable platform in which she can share the information that she is both knowledgeable and passionate about. She currently serves as a media spokesperson for the Tennessee Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and was recently selected to win the 2013 Media Excellence Award by the National Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Sarah-Jane’s first book, “Schedule Me Skinny: Plan to Lose Weight and Keep it Off in Just 30 Minutes a Week,” was released in January 2014.