Meal planning takes the stress out of healthy meals, allowing you to relax after you’ve put everything together. Not only will you avoid stress by knowing what’s for dinner each night; you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing your meals will be tasty and healthy. This took me years to figure out. I owe all my meal prepping skill to my amazing mother in law. She preps menus, cooks certain foods and plans the menu down to every last detail weeks in advance for our family get together. I always loved how present and relaxed she was… rather than my constant frazzled, wait to the last minute skills. I studied her and asked what her tips were. She said, “it’s taking the time to plan that helps you enjoy family time!” So, basically we must become a MEAL PLANNING NINJA!
Here are my favorite 8 tips to plan healthy meals in advance:
- Bookmark any recipes you plan to use and put them in a visible place.
- Vary your menu each week by making a few favorite dishes that you’re comfortable with while added a few new favorites.
- If you want leftovers, plan that into your menu. Roasting a chicken? Pop in a second one for sandwiches and salads. Make a double batch of soup or your favorite pasta sauce and freeze half.
- Plan your menu around quick-cooking cuts of meat and poultry like cutlets, chops, and fillets.
- Pre-cut fruits and vegetables are great for stir-fries, quick side dishes, and desserts. Though they can be a bit more expensive, they are a time saver when you want to get dinner on the table fast.
- Choose convenience products wisely; take a moment to read labels for calories, fats, fiber and sodium.
- Embrace frozen fruits and vegetables. Frozen fruit is great for making quick morning smoothies and fruit crisps for dessert, while frozen vegetables can be cooked up for side dishes or thrown into pasta. Even better, frozen fruits and veggies are often even healthier than the fresh stuff; the flash-freezing process preserves nutrients and (often) kills dangerous bacteria.
- Be flexible—if the green beans at the store look withered, buy that beautiful broccoli instead!
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