HEALTHY FOODS ON THE GO? TRY REVERSE DOGGY BAGGING!
I mention a technique in my book, FibroWHYalgia, for making eating on the go simple and easy. I call it Reverse Doggy Bagging. I’ve been doing it for so long, that I forget that it might not be second nature for everyone else. It took a recent reminder (thanks to my sisters!) for me to realize that this topic deserves a deeper look.
Whether in your own kitchen or away from home, eating well just takes a bit of advance planning. Once you get used to this step, you’ll find you don’t even think about it anymore. It becomes second nature.
I plan ahead to have fresh foods handy that are easy to grab and easy to pack for quick and spontaneous meals. When I bring veggies home from the store or market, I wash and chop several day’s worth, right away.
I always have chopped veggies in the fridge. Having them prepared ahead of time makes them easy to add to meals or quick to grab for snacks and mealtime. Veggies I may have on hand vary by season and interest, but you’d likely find these in my crisper bins — zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, jicama, snap peas, bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, celery, red onion, etc.
When I cook quinoa, beans, soups, chili, meats such as fish, chicken, roasts, etc., I make enough for several meals. I then bag up the leftovers into individual small portions and freeze them. This way, I’ve always got ready-made meals in the freezer that thaw quickly.
The goal here is to cook something you were going to cook anyway but just increase the portions. This time saving effort means you cook something once and then multiply your effort by making more meals to use in the future. Quinoa, for example can be added to soups, chili, eggs, salads, etc. It adds a delightfully nutty flavor and texture along with a boost of fiber and protein. I nearly always have small portions of quinoa in the freezer for quick grab and go meals
Once you have food items ready to go, here are my top tips for eating away from home:
– Headed to a restaurant? If possible, look up the menu online and choose your entrée before you even arrive. Decide what you’d like to add to your meal, and decide how to order it in advance (FYI, requesting veggies instead of fries, dressings on the side, etc.).
– If you don’t find anything healthy on the menu, or you’re going somewhere where you need to bring your own meal, you can always rely on a quick and easy protein shake. Simply bring along a shaker bottle with the appropriate scoop or two of protein mix, and any other dry ingredient9s) you’d like to add. At mealtime, add the desired liquid (water, coconut water, nut milk, etc.), give it a quick shake and enjoy.
– Try Reverse Doggy Bagging! Bring your own meal add-ins. By packing your own foods to bring along, you can boost the nutrient value of any meal. Before you head out the door, grab a serving or two of veggies and add them to the bland salad the restaurant offers. Add them to the lettuce wraps, stir fry, or soup you ordered. Add them to any meal! And, don’t forget the protein. Bring along hard boiled eggs, quinoa, nuts or meats (if you choose). Pack a halved avocado and enjoy it in your salad or entrée.
When I first started bringing foods INTO restaurants, I felt self-conscious. I worried about what the wait staff would think. I was concerned that I’d somehow upset the sensitivities of the chef. In my decade long experience of Reverse Doggy Bagging, here’s what I’ve learned — no one cares!
In fact, I’ve only had one comment in all these years. One observant server took my plate and said, “Hey … our Chinese Chicken Salad doesn’t come with broccoli and avocado.” I mentioned that I brought it myself because I wanted to boost the nutrient value and fiber content of the meal. She just nodded and said, “Good thinking!”
Here’s how I do it. Depending on where we’re going, how long it will be before mealtime, and what the temperature is outside, I’ll either pack my foods in my purse, or carry along a small insulated lunch bag – like this cute one that can be found at Target.
If needed, I’ll also include a small frozen ice pack and then pack my meal add-ins. In the true spirit of Doggy Bagging, you can also use this bag to bring leftover food home from the restaurant (what a concept!). I always keep a few new, unused baggies in my insulated lunch bag for this very purpose. The lunch bag itself can easily be rolled up and tucked in my purse.
Of course, Reverse Doggy Bagging isn’t just for meals. It’s also a great way to take along snacks with you wherever you go. For a list of healthy snacks, be sure to read my July newsletter which will hit your inbox the end of this week.
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Do you have any Reverse Doggy Bagging experience? Any funny stories? Be sure to share your tips in the comments below!