Simple Tips for Better Meal Planning
Simple tips and tricks to get healthy meals on the table.
Many of us struggle to get healthy meals on the table day in and day out. Our spotlight Fit Families are no different. Jennifer Howe admits that when their kid's busy baseball season hits, their family struggles to find time to prepare healthy meals. Jennifer has found one brilliant time saver by taking advantage of Harris Teeter's online grocery shopping and curbside pick-up!
Ami Hill finds that after a long day at work, dinner inspiration doesn't always come easy. To help get the creative juices flowing, Ami is going to check out a few healthy recipe websites. Websites such as Cookinglight.com, EatingWell.com, Shape.com, and Myfitnesspal.com are chock-full of healthy recipes and offer easy and free meal planning tools. Here are a few healthy meal planning tips to set you up for a healthy week of eating.
1. Use The Weekends or a Day-Off to Prepare Healthy Weeknight Meals
- Create a "Master Healthy Grocery List." Be sure to include grains, protein, dairy, fruits, and veggies!
- Restock Common Pantry Items. Whole grain rice & pastas, couscous, quinoa, potatoes, beans, and tomato sauce.
- Pick Your Proteins. A few healthy options include salmon, chicken, flank steak, chuck roast, pork tenderloin, beans, tofu, eggs and so much more!
- Include Easy Weeknight Vegetables. Salad kits, fresh pre-cut or frozen vegetables such as Steamables, and canned low sodium vegetables.
- Fill Up On Fruits. Buy enough fruits to fuel your family for the week ahead. Include fruits as part of a meal or as the perfect snack to hydrate, nourish and re-fuel energy levels.
- Power Up On Dairy (or Alternatives). Dairy foods offer a powerhouse of nutrients; protein, calcium, Vitamin-D, B-vitamins, and rich in minerals!
- Healthy On-The-Go Snacks. Pack a healthy cooler for work or play. A few good choices include nuts, light pop-corn, whole-grain granola bars, cheese sticks, Hummus, in addition to fruits, yogurts, and veggies.
- Start A Family Favorite Recipe Collection. Include easy, fast and healthy weeknight meals that are sure to bring the family together.
- For meal planning tips, check out: http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/meal-ideas/shop-once-eat-week
2. Double-Up on Dinners
- Try cooking in bulk. On the weekend, prepare meals that freeze well such as lasagnas, chili, meat balls, and soups.
- Double up on dinner. One-pot meals such as Stews, Chili, casseroles, soups, and pastas make for yummy left overs.
- Grill and freeze extras. Grilled chicken, lean hamburgers, and pork chops can be placed in freezer bags for next time. Be sure to label clearly, for example, "Cooked Chicken, date frozen 8/4/14."
- Buy fresh meats in bulk and freeze. Divide family size portions and place in freezer ready bags, label and date it.
3. Use Your Appliances
- Microwave Oven: For easy defrosting of freezer items, quickly cook sweet potatoes or baked potatoes.
- Crockpots: Start dinner before you even leave for work and come home to a home cooked meal!
- Rice cookers: Make perfect rice every time! For a nutritional boost, add veggies!
- Grill: Grilling is not just for summer; take advantage of our mild climate, and keep the grill fired-up all year long.
Tricia Azra is a registered dietitian nutritionist, and has been practicing nutrition in the North Carolina region for 19 years. Azra is excited to mentor the Howe and Hill Spotlight Families for the Fit Family Challenge.