How do you plan your meals? Find out how and more information, like how to effectively prepare your food, eat for maximum nutrition, and have healthy snacks and lunch takeouts with you.
Planning healthy meals can be difficult, especially if you are cooking for a family that is stuck in a rut of unhealthy meals.
With some basic nutrition knowledge, however, you can have your family eating healthy without them really even realizing it.
The key to creating healthy meals is to plan. Plan your week’s meals ahead of time and ensure you have all of the necessary ingredients. Don’t put off preparing healthy meals because you don’t have a tomato.
Plan your meals out and go grocery shopping. While shopping, it is important to get only the foods that are on your list and stay away from the cookie and ice cream aisles to limit temptation.
This will also allow you to keep your food costs to a minimum because you are buying less expensive whole foods instead of processed foods.
Huge time savers such as slow cookers and microwaves are also helpful, and everything that comes out of the microwave doesn’t have to be unhealthy.
A slow cooker will allow food to cook all day while you are at work. When you get home, you will have a delicious and healthy meal waiting for you.
When you are planning meals for the week, create a chart of each day’s meals and your daily schedule. This will help you decide which days are best for certain meals.
For example, maybe you have time to cook something extra special on Friday nights, but the rest of the week is so hectic that you don’t know if you are coming or going.
You can place those special recipes you have been wanting to try on Friday and then come up with healthy alternatives for your busy days.
Get the Family Involved
Eating healthy is a family affair. It is important to get your spouse and your kids involved.
This allows you to ensure that each day someone has something that is his or her favorite being served.
This may mean that Friday nights are special pizza nights, but the rest of the week is healthy.
It is important to plan meals with everyone’s input to ensure that everyone’s tastes are involved. You also do not want anyone to feel as though they are being deprived of something they like.
It is an even better idea to get everyone involved in cooking. This allows the children to learn their way around the kitchen and what foods are healthy for them to eat.
Cooking in large quantities is an excellent way for you to have healthy foods at your fingertips. Cooking large amounts of soups, casseroles, chilies, and pasta will save you a lot of time during the week.
You can even make double or triple batches of certain staples in your diet. This will allow you to freeze them and use them later. This saves you both time and money.
When you freeze your leftovers, be sure that you label your containers with freezer tape and permanent markers.
This will allow you to rotate items wisely and keep the older foods near the top. This also allows you to avoid waste by not having to throw out foods that have expired.
Stock up on meats when they are on sale, and then divide them up into individual serving portions for your family.
For example, if you buy 5 pounds of ground beef, separate it into 5 one-pound servings for your ground beef recipes. You can also divide up your chicken breasts, turkey, steaks, roasts, and pork chops.
If you are going to have pork chops one night, all you have to do is pull them out of the freezer and allow them to thaw while you are at work. When you get home, you can cook them up on the grill and sauté up some fresh veggies.
A well-stocked pantry is also important. Keep a good supply of staples such as canned veggies, fruits, soup stocks, etc.
These will help you prepare your meals much more quickly, especially when combined with your stocked freezer. This also allows you to save time and money.
Other items that you can stock up on include:
- Whole-grain cereals
- Tomato sauce
- Baked beans
- Canned salmon
- Whole-grain breads
In the past several years, a lot of fad diets have hit the market. This is mainly because people are recognizing that it is time to start eating better and living a more healthy lifestyle.
You know that you need to eat fruits and vegetables, but perhaps you are far too often choosing the wrong items.
For example, avocados may look like a healthy food, but they are actually full of fat and calories. Bananas may seem healthy, but they have a lot of sugar. It is the healthy balance of these items that we are looking for.
The key to changing your diet is to recognize the areas that you need to change and then work on those areas.
For instance, some people simply need to add veggies to their diet and cut back on meat. Others need to cut back on sweets and add fruits and vegetables.
Some people could do themselves a lot of good by eating a breakfast so that they do not overeat later in the day.
These are little changes that can be made if you get motivated to do it. The key is to make small changes so that they are seamlessly incorporated into your life.
Eating healthy also means different things to different people. A healthy runner who runs a 5K every other weekend doesn’t have the same nutritional requirements as an office worker who sits at a desk all day and needs to lose 20 pounds.
A good place to start is to begin by changing your diet up by adding variety. Make smarter choices when shopping and try to avoid the sugary temptations that lurk in the grocery store.
If you eat out a lot, you can still make better choices. Limit your salad dressing and eat more veggies and skinless chicken. It is also a good idea not to eat your whole plate but to take a portion of it home with you for later.
Eat more highly nutritious foods rather than high calorie foods. You will be amazed at the difference this can make at your first sitting. Most fatty foods are full of empty calories. This means you are eating foods that have a lot of calories but they don’t fill you up.
By eating foods that have calories you use, you are feeding yourself useful energy without overeating on unhealthy foods. The produce section of the grocery store contains a lot of healthy and filling foods that are not full of empty calories.
Don’t be afraid to try new things. Your tastes change as you grow older. You actually begin to like foods that you despised as a child. Some people think that they don’t like foods, but they have never eaten many of what they say they don’t like.
Produce is relatively cheap. So you are not losing too much money if you by some fresh spinach for a salad and find out you still don’t like it.
If you do like it, then you found something healthy that you don’t mind eating and it’s relatively inexpensive. Talk about a win-win situation!
You don’t have to give up your Saturday night steak. Just work on it a bit to make it healthier. Cut off the excess fat that you don’t need and don’t slather your potato in all the “fixins.” Try a little bit of butter or even a little cottage cheese.
If you want to know more on nutrition, check this post: What You Should Understand About Nutrition?
It never fails, there’s a pang that hits our stomach around 2:30 or 3:00 in the afternoon. This little bit of hunger is easily overcome by a healthy snack.
Instead of reaching for those chocolate chip cookies, why not some apple wedges with a little peanut butter on them? Or, how about a glass of milk or cup of cottage cheese?
You could even grab a handful of nuts. Whole grain products make good snacks as well. Wheat bread or bagels can make you a nice little snack to hold you over until dinner.
For the kids, consider having some carrot sticks already peeled and sliced for them when they come home from school.
You could even have a little bowl of broccoli florets, green peppers and carrots in a bowl with a little side of low fat salad dressing for dipping. These are much better snacks than Jell-O, Fruit Roll-Ups, Pop Tarts or candy bars.
Here is a little quick recipe that you can whip up in no time:
- Can of mandarin oranges
- Cut up banana
Mix in the juices from the orange and serve. This is a delicious little fresh fruit salad that you can use as a snack or even a healthy dessert.
Keeping a bowl of fresh fruit around on the table also encourages you to grab an apple or orange instead of a handful of M&Ms.
Milk and dairy products are also important. You don’t have to buy the fattiest of these items either. If you are a whole milk drinker, consider dropping down to 2%.
You will be amazed that the taste is very similar to whole milk, but with less fat. It is also not as watery as skim milk. You can also have some low-fat or nonfat yogurt, puddings, cheeses and cottage cheese around.
Lunch meats can also make a great snack. Get some healthy turkey, chicken or ham. Pregnant women should be sure to warm these up to kill off any bacteria before eating them, just to be on the safe side.
Sandwiches that are made on whole grain bread with low calorie mustard can be a good snack to hold you over.
Tuna that is packed in water is the best and very easy to whip up. Peanut butter, eggs, poultry, nuts and beans make good snacks as well.
You can also pair your fresh fruit with nonfat plain or vanilla yogurt. Add fruit to cereal or use fresh fruit and juices to make smoothies as a quick snack or breakfast.
For bagels that are getting a little stale, toast them and spread a little bit of peanut butter on them. You could also use a low fat cream cheese.
Or, slice them into little thin slices and brush with a little butter. Sprinkle with a little garlic and bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees. Now you have healthy bagel chips and you didn’t waste any food.
You can also check this post: What Are Your Healthy Snack Options?
Take Your Lunch with You
When you are a career person, it can be difficult not to eat out every day for lunch. It is possible to take your healthy lifestyle on the go.
You also never know what they are serving in school cafeterias these days, especially when it comes to older kids in middle school or high school. If you all brown bag it, then you can still create healthy lunches for your whole family.
The most important decision to make is what you are putting in those lunchboxes. It is very important that you choose foods that are easy, yet quick.
If you are able to include a favorite food in each lunch, then there is less of a chance of your child hitting a vending machine to get a candy bar.
When you are packing lunches, be sure to choose at least three of the following:
- 1 fruit or vegetable (fresh, canned or frozen)
- Whole grain product
- Milk or dairy production
- Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, peanut butter, legumes or hummus
It is also a good idea to get the family involved in fixing their lunches. Have a little session each night where everyone gets to choose some of these healthy items to put in their lunches.
Lie out all of the healthy food options and let everyone decide what they want to take with them the next day. If they want milk to drink, it is a good idea to give them milk money, as it is difficult to keep milk cold at school.
Kids will love to fix their own lunches. You might even have a special shelf in the refrigerator just for those foods. It is also a good idea to have plastic bags, napkins, plastic silverware and straws for the kids to pack in their lunches as well.
Healthy Lunch Tips
- Incorporate different breads in sandwiches.
- Whole Wheat
- Tortilla wraps
- Bread sticks
- Bite sized veggies are best
- Baby carrots
- Broccoli florets
- Pepper slices
- Bite sized fruit are good too
- Orange wedges
- 100% fruit juice or milk money
- Single serving cereals (Good for breakfast too)
- Selection of various nonfat yogurts.
POINTS TO REMEMBER
How To Plan Healthy Meals?
- Get the family involved
- Get prepared
- Eat for maximum nutrition
- Healthy snacks
- Take your lunch with you
- Healthy lunch tips
– How do you usually plan your meals?
– Do you get your family involved in meal planning?
– How do you make sure you eat for maximum nutrition?
– How do you prepare healthy snacks?
– How do you prepare healthy lunch?