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How to Eat Well at the End of the Day

Author: be well™ with Big Y® Registered Dietitian Team

Registered Dietitian Carrie Taylor shows how to extend the life of foods, like fresh meat, in your kitchen in the video below!

Have a craving? Studies show there are two peaks of the day when cravings generally hit: lunch and dinner.1  While every food has its place in a healthy lifestyle, a little planning ahead can ensure your cravings don’t dictate your food choices. Did you know cravings are often impacted by what you eat in the morning? For example, if skipping breakfast is a usual habit, you may be causing yourself to overeat and crave more calorie-rich foods due to heightened hunger levels at lunch and throughout the day. Research also shows that self-regulation can wear out over the course of the day. This can make dinnertime feel more difficult to resist high-energy foods that are higher in saturated fat, added sugar or sodium than other options.2

Fear not! Empowering yourself to make quality choices throughout the day doesn’t require mind over matter or a secret way of doing things. Simply set yourself up for success with these steps for an easier dinnertime.

Cooking Dinner After a Long Day

Raincoat Boots

Discover which nutritious recipes you enjoy that also fit well into your goals. These recipes will keep you motivated and establish a strong end-of-day routine. Keep things fresh! Experiment with new and exciting recipes. Learn timeless family recipes, ask friends for their favorites or pull meal ideas from the recipe section of BigY.com.

Must-Have Staples for Your Kitchen


Keeping essential staples in your kitchen can help create an environment that empowers you to reach your goals. Follow these guidelines when growing your inventory:

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Rice, oats, quinoa and pasta have a long shelf life and can easily be added to any dish. Prioritize whole grains for added fiber, vitamins and minerals.

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Protein Foods

Chicken, beef, pork and fish are safe to stay in the refrigerator for a one to five days and last four to twelve months in the freezer, depending on the cut of meat.3 Dried beans, peas and lentils are plant-based protein options with fiber that have a shelf-life around one year.4 These lean protein sources are a must-have to repair cells and muscles, especially after being active.5

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Fruits and Vegetables

Incorporating fruits and vegetables into meals is essential to building a varied meal plan and making great snacks. Keep in mind, fruits and vegetables can be a staple in your kitchen in any form: canned, 100% juice, frozen, dried or fresh.

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Although heart-healthy fats in your kitchen, like vegetable oils (olive, canola, avocado, etc.), are great to have on-hand when preparing meals, they also assist in the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins available in your food like vitamins A, D, E and K.

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Milk, yogurt and cheese provide protein and carbohydrates, while containing nutrients like calcium and vitamin D.

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Spices, fresh herbs, dried herbs, condiments and aromatic vegetables can add flavor to recipes and take the mundane to magnificent.

Shopping for the Week

Rice Cooking Methods

Deciding which meals you are going to cook, and preparing a menu at the beginning of the week, is essential for developing a grocery shopping list before you step into your local Big Y neighborhood market. Devoting a few minutes to planning ahead can help you save money and time while reducing food waste. For example, if you know you use a particular product many times throughout the week, consider purchasing it in bulk for less cost per serving. Also, stick to your shopping list to prevent from spending excess money on foods you won’t eat. Additionally, invest in foods for specific meals to encourage yourself to cook what you planned so ingredients won’t go to waste.

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Using Up Groceries Before They Spoil

When produce begins to lose its freshness, or a package is on the brink of an expiration date, you have plenty of solutions before needing to throw your food away. A simple solution for extending the life of your food is to cook it and save it for later. For example, cooking vegetables into a stir fry can bring them back to life and be eaten within 3 to 4 days with proper storage in the refrigerator. Freezing is another great alternative. Frozen fruit, like ripened bananas, can be used later for smoothie bases or to make yummy baked goods.

Keeping Meals Simple and Accessible

Freeze Dried Food

Having back-up plans, like easily made meals available at-the-ready, can help on nights with little time. Here are two great ways to get a quick meal on the table.

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Meal Prep and Freeze

When making a nourishing meal you love, make an extra portion, and freeze it in a freezer-safe container. A leftover meal will remain tasty in your freezer for one to two months.3 On days you have extra time, prepare a few portions of wholesome meals with the sole intention of freezing for future use. Keeping frozen prepared dishes on-hand that are easy to reheat in the microwave, or on the stove, is an easy way to get a nutritious, home-cooked meal in a matter of minutes.

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Air Frying

An air fryer is multi-use appliance that can quickly cook meals with little effort. The innovative technology of an air fryer makes it perfect for a busy lifestyle. Read our “Everything About Air Fryers” article to learn more.

How to Eat Healthfully While Going Out

Freeze Dried Food

Even on days when you are unable to cook, Big Y is here to help! Convenient options are prepackaged and available from Our Kitchen. Can’t make it to the store? We’ll come to you! DoorDash® offers fast and fresh delivery, right to your door, of our pizza, wings, subs, fried seafood and sushi. The grocery delivery service, Instacart®, will deliver fresh groceries to your home, as well. To access either resource, click the “Delivery” or “Take Out” option at the top of this page.

Need a quick dinner inspiration? Check out these recipes!




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1 Reichenberger J, Richard A, Smyth JM, Fischer D, Pollatos O, Blechert J. It’s craving time: time of day effects on momentary hunger and food craving in daily life. Nutrition. 2018;55-56:15-20. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2018.03.048.
2 Boland WA, Connell PM, Vallen B. Time of day effects on the regulation of food consumption after activation of health goals. Appetite. 2013;70:47-52. doi: https://10.1016/j.appet.2013.06.085.
3 Partnership for Food Safety. The core four practices of food safety. Published June 8, 2015. Accessed June 22, 2023. https://www.fightbac.org/food-safety-basics/the-core-four-practices/.
4 Fifield, J. Dry bean storage. Michigan State University Extension. Published September 16, 2016. Accessed July 12, 2023. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/dru_bean_storage.
5 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health. Medline Plus: Protein in diet. Accessed June 29, 2023. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002467.htm.

Published 8/3/2023