How to Eat Healthy During Deployment
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Hi, Singing Through the Rain readers! I’m Natalie from Oven Love and I’m thrilled to be guest posting and talking about how to eat healthy. Unlike most of my blogging friends, I have the pleasure of knowing Kathryn in real life. We met about two years ago through a mutual friend shortly after my husband and I arrived at Robins AFB (we are also a military family).
At the time, she was pregnant with her son, Adam and I just had my first son a few months earlier. We didn’t find out until later that we were both bloggers with a lot of the same interests. Kathryn is one of the strongest, most faithful women you’ll find and it is an honor to call her a friend.
My husband has been in the Air Force for four years (plus four more if you count USAFA) and I’ve been right alongside him the whole time. We are extremely fortunate that his career field does not deploy often, and he has not been deployed yet. Though he hasn’t deployed yet, he does spend a lot of time traveling on TDY (Temporary Duty). Believe me, I know that TDY’s are not the same as deployments, but any time away from your husband is difficult, even if you’re not in the military. And it gets even more complicated when you add kids to the picture.
One of the things I find difficult when my husband is gone is eating well. I don’t go to the grocery store as often, I try to get by on pantry and freezer items, I don’t make many full meals and we usually end up eating out more than usual. Does this happen to anyone else? It just seems like too much work to pull real meals together when he’s away, but I know I need to eat healthy.
As I was thinking about this a while back, I realized that I used to eat very healthily in college when I was cooking for one. This motivated me to get back into cooking while my husband is away and to find recipes that are easy and nutritious. Here are some of my tips on how to eat healthy during deployments, TDYs and any other alone times.
Eat Healthy During Deployment:
- Get out of your breakfast rut. Cereal is easy, but it’s not the most nutritious option for your morning. Try keeping some eggs around for a quick scramble or make up some frozen fruit smoothie bags. Another idea is to make some mini frittatas, quiche or batch of baked oatmeal and eat it throughout the week. You can also freeze bacon or breakfast sausage in smaller quantities (just a few links or strips) and defrost the night before for extra protein.
- Don’t forget to eat lunch! I usually end up snacking instead of eating lunch while my husband is gone. If you’ve got kids, you’re the only one on duty in the afternoon, so you need to restore your energy with a good lunch. Keep your fridge stocked with salad greens, a few types of cheeses and your favorite veggies. Top them with a single grilled chicken breast for a protein-packed salad, or wrap them up in a tortilla with your favorite lunch meat. I love frozen burritos for lunch, too. Add a serving of fruit and you’re ready to conquer the rest of your day.
- Utilize your freezer. I love my freezer! It’s great for portion control. You can make larger batches of your favorite soups and sauces and store them in single-sized portions. Apply this idea to your meat and baked goods as well. You can still buy items in larger quantities if you are smart about the way you store them. Just bring home your bulk purchases, separate them into single servings and freeze for easy meals later.
- Adapt your menu planning. Since you can’t freeze everything, it’s good to have a plan for all of your fresh produce. When you’re planning your grocery trip, find a few recipes with similar ingredients so your fresh food doesn’t go bad. Take tomatoes, for instance: you could chop them up in a breakfast omelet, have a BLT for lunch, and roast them as a side dish with some sauteed meat or fish on various days during the week.
- Try farmers’ markets. Farmers’ markets are great because you can buy fresh items in smaller quantities. I find that shopping at farmers’ markets also helps me to eat with the seasons and gets me out of my cooking ruts. It’s also a good way to stay busy and get the kids out of the house!
- Keep a stocked pantry. We all have days where we don’t want to cook. These are common when you’re alone. Be prepared with great pantry staples so you’re not always turning to PB&J. In the pantry, my favorite items are jarred marinara sauce, pasta, rice, chicken broth (I keep these broth packets), nut butter and canned beans. For the fridge, I recommend eggs, butter, plain yogurt, milk, a variety of cheeses, condiments, salad greens. In the freezer, meat in individual portions (bacon, chicken breast, ground beef, pork chops), frozen vegetables, pizza dough, pie dough and frozen fruit.
- Some other helpful resources: Everyday Food for One, Cooking For One and 50 Tips and Ideas for Meals for One.
What about YOU? Do you eat healthy during deployment or do you have trouble finding keeping up meals by yourself?