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Healthy Eating Recipe Corner

Tips for Planning Meals with a Busy Schedule

Figuring out what to make can be the toughest part of putting a meal together. As a busy mom, you have a hard enough time getting everyone together for a meal, and then you don’t even know what to cook on any given night. 

This can often lead you to choose something quick and easy or you may find that you are eating the same meals repeatedly. The best solution to this problem is to start meal planning, and to look into other convenient options, like having kids meals delivered. With a little bit of planning, you can add some variety to your meals and take some of the stress out of putting them together.

If you’re not into the idea of sitting down once a week and making a formal meal plan, that is okay – you can use the following tips to help streamline the meal planning process.

Set a Time Limit

If you let meal planning take too long, it will become unmanageable. Set aside ten minutes a week to come up with seven dinner ideas. Make quick decisions about what to eat on different days and stick to your choices. If you don’t feel like planning the whole week of dinners at once, you could just give yourself a few minutes in the morning to pick a dinner idea for later that night. When you know what you are making beforehand, it will save you time and cut down on the stress that comes with preparing dinner.

Get Help from the Family

There is no reason to think that you have to make all of the decisions yourself. Get your partner and the kids involved in choosing dinners. If you assign everyone a night to pick the dinner they want to have, it will make the task easier for you. You can even set a rule that doesn’t allow anyone to pick the same meal two weeks in a row. 

Save Recipes that Work Well

Keep track of all of the recipes that work well in your meal plan. You might save some because they offer a meal that the whole family likes. In other cases, it might be a recipe that is quick and easy for the nights where you have less time. If you save all of the best recipes in one place, it will also make for a handy reference when you are trying to plan meals.

Make Extra

With some meals or food items, making extra can save time. Some meals can be frozen and then reheated as leftovers if you make twice as much the first time you cook. For basic staples like rice and pasta, you could also cook twice as much and use the leftover with a different meal later in the week. By cooking extra, you can cut down on some of the work. This is also a way to plan two nights of dinner at the same time.

Try Themed Meals

Everyone has heard of taco Tuesdays, but there are plenty of themed dinner ideas that can make your meal planning easier. You could plan a pizza night, a pasta night, or you could even do breakfast for dinner. It’s not the theme that matters –the idea is to narrow the options for that night and make it easier to pick a meal. You could even pick one night of the week that is a themed night and change the theme from week to week.

The main point to remember is that meal planning doesn’t need to be as stressful as it may seem. By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll save a lot of time, no matter how busy your schedule is.

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Healthy Eating Let's Talk

20 Ideas for Healthy Eating

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

Do you ever end up eating more than you should because you simply can’t come up with good ideas for meals? Do you ever throw your hands up and head to the nearest drive-through because you’re uninspired about what to cook? Cooking at home is the first major step toward eating healthier. Even when you think you’re eating healthy food in a restaurant, you’re often being treated to hidden trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, and even low-end, B-grade fruits and veggies that wouldn’t pass muster in the store.

You have to realize that restaurants are in the business to make money, so their goal will be to obtain ingredients at the lowest possible price in order to make the most off what they put on your plate, and to make you feel like you’re getting a bargain, the portions they serve are outrageously large, filled with sodium and laden with fat. There are some restaurants, like Cheesecake Factory, who offers meals that provide almost more calories and fat in one meal than you need in TWO days.

I’ve put together a list of meals designed to inspire your willingness to experiment in your own kitchen. I’m not a dietician nor am I a physician, so check with your own if you have dietary restrictions. Mix, match, and change things up…and let me know your favorites from the list as well as what you’d add!

Breakfast ideas:

  • One poached egg, one slice of whole wheat toast, an apple
  • Egg white omelet with spinach and tomato
  • One boiled egg, one slice whole wheat toast with peanut butter
  • Breakfast smoothie: ½ c. frozen blueberries, 1 c. frozen strawberries, ½ cup of vanilla yogurt and ½ c. orange juice, blended
  • Breakfast burrito (scrambled egg, low-fat cheese, salsa) in whole wheat tortilla, fruit of your choice on the side

Snack ideas:

  • A handful (no more than 23) of almonds
  • Yogurt with granola and berries or dried cherries
  • Two ounces of low-fat mozzarella with tomatoes, olives, and spinach
  • Cottage cheese and fruit
  • 1 ounce of cheese, apple slices, two walnuts

Lunch ideas:

  • Tuna with one tbsp mayo, 1 slice whole wheat bread, an apple
  • Low fat turkey sandwich, carrot sticks, an orange
  • Chicken salad: 3-ounce chicken breast, lettuce, tomato and other veggies to taste with 2 ½ tbsp of low-fat dressing
  • Spinach salad with 2 ounces of salmon and a sprinkling of feta cheese
  • Fruit salad: pineapple, grapes, cantaloupe, and choice of berry. Serve with ½ cup of cottage cheese and five almonds.

Dinner ideas:

  • Spaghetti with whole wheat pasta, salad with 1 tbsp olive oil & ½ tsp. red wine vinegar, glass of red wine
  • Salmon steak, ½ cup rice pilaf, 1 cup steamed broccoli
  • Grilled chicken breast, sweet potato, mixed greens.
  • Two tacos: Corn tortillas, five ounces of low-fat ground turkey, seasoned, one ounce cheese, lettuce.
  • Grilled pork chop with apricot-mango chutney, steamed green beans, whole wheat couscous