I'm fortunate in that as a WAHM, I can run to the store to pick up a forgotten ingredient without even putting on a bra (the one thing I will miss about Midwestern winters is this ability to hide poor personal upkeep under a winter coat.)
However, many working parents don't have this opportunity and a lot of times this can cause people to fall into the "just grab it because it's quick" trap. And unfortunately, often almost always equals processed frankenfood.
As a mom to two small kids with gluten intolerance and a Celiac husband, we have not only moved towards a Real Food lifestyle, I have had to completely remove the concept of "grab and go" foods from my life, as many of them aren't gluten-free, let alone healthy. So I've compiled a list of things that we always keep stocked in our pantry or fridge to make sure we aren't caught in the trap.
1) Larabars - these healthy bars are made only of natural ingredients, mostly just nuts and fruit. Yes, they can be expensive but often our local supermarket will have a 10/$10 sale and our local warehouse sells the large boxes. If you are so inclined, you can make your own and store them in the fridge or freezer. There are many online, including my own.
2) Dried Fruit/Nuts - high in protein and a good source of energy, I always keep a few bags of nuts and dried cherries (try Eden Organic brand for all natural no-sugar added dried fruit) on hand to throw into a bag.
3) Almond/Macadamia Nut/Sun Butter - if you avoid legumes (and even if you don't), these alternate butters are great sources of protein and healthy fat and are great to dip apples in or scoop into a quick smoothie.
4) Hard-Boiled Eggs - Usually once a week or so, we'll hard boil a dozen or so eggs and they're great for my husband to grab for breakfast on his way out the door. Or we can decide to make deviled eggs or egg salad for a healthy lunch/dinner on romaine boats.
5) Apples and Bananas - I buy these each time I go to the supermarket because we eat them faster than I can keep them stocked. But the good things about these fruits is that not only are they ready and available to eat on the go, they also stay good for days so they almost never go bad before you can eat them.
6) YoKids Yogurt - Organic and healthy, we keep these in the freezer. If I put one in my daugher's lunch bag, or grab a couple for them on the way out the door, they're defrosted when they're ready.
7) Frozen Muffins - Every few weeks on a lazy Sunday (Oh HAHAH what are those?!!?) I'll make a double or triple batch of healthy whole-ingredient muffins and freeze them, so when I need a quick breakfast for myself or the kids, I can defrost a few in no time.
No one is perfect and there will always be times when no matter how prepped we think we are, we'll end up subsisting on coffee, but if we keep our houses stocked, we definitely have a better chance.
What do you guys always keep on hand so you don't let yourself make excuses when you're low on time? What are your quick grab and go Real Foods?