Think healthy menu planning needs to be difficult and time consuming? Use these simple tips and enjoy the extra time you’ll discover.
1) Use a slow cooker – These are a busy person’s dream. Simply set everything up in the morning and enjoy a warm, home cooked meal when you’re through with your busy day.
2) Overcook – I don’t mean keeping something in the oven for too long but make different versions using the same main ingredient. For example, let’s say you’re cooking chicken cutlets. How about buying a family sized package then getting the cutlets ready in a variety of ways. You can prepare some with BBQ sauce, season some for baking, use some for stir fry and grill some to use in sandwiches and salads. They’ll all be cooked and ready to use as you need them throughout the week.
3) Double a recipe – As long as you’ll be cleaning those pots and pans anyway, may as well make more than for just one meal. Simply double or triple the recipe, label and freeze for later use.
4) Have breakfast for dinner – Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day why not enjoy it more than once from time to time? Breakfast can be a goldmine of healthy foods with careful planning choosing foods such as nutrient rich, high fiber cereals, whole grain pancake or waffle mix, fresh fruit smoothies, low fat milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs and much more.
5) Keep a running food shopping list – By keeping a running list in your kitchen, you’ll find it easy to keep healthy foods on hand. As you’re running low, simply jot them down to be replaced during your next trip to the supermarket. Keeping a running list is also a handy way of writing down healthy, delicious ingredients you’ll discover when reading magazines, watching TV or when a healthy meal idea comes to mind. By sticking to your list you’ll also avoid many of the high sugar, high fat, highly processed “impulse buys” you may normally purchase if you didn’t bring a list along.
6) Use some “supermarket savvy” – When food shopping, keep things quick, easy and healthy with precut, prewashed vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grain breads, nuts, beans and quick cooking lean protein. Frozen vegetables are also great to keep on hand as well as frozen entrees such as Healthy Choice, Weight Watchers or Lean Cuisine. Feel free to add a salad or cooked vegetable to round out the meal, make it more filling and satisfying.
7) Menu planning, food delivery and food preparation services – There are so many great options available to made meal planning quick and easy.
* Online menu planning services offer easy weekly or monthly menu ideas based on your tastes, preferences, restrictions and budget. They also provide printable shopping lists to easily get what you need to prepare each delicious meal.
* Depending upon where you live, grocery delivery services may be available. Ordering your groceries and scheduling delivery times are only a click away. Not only is this option a huge time saver but for those with busy lifestyles, this service can be priceless!
* Another service designed to save time while still promoting the idea of a home cooked meal has been becoming increasingly popular. Some look like comfortable, yet professional kitchens where the customer is able to simply walk in and “assemble” the meal using fresh, premeasured ingredients and all that’s left to do is go home and pop it in the oven for the recommended amount of time. If this option takes too long, entrees can even be “preassembled” and picked up leaving you to do nothing more than put it in your oven.
* Meal delivery services (and no, I don’t mean pizza!) are another option where according to your tastes, restrictions and preferences meals and snacks can be packaged and delivered right to your door. Nothing is quicker and easier than a meal that’s already prepared, portioned and ready to eat!
Healthy meal planning doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming at all. It can be quick, easy and delicious with just a little bit of creativity and the willingness to do things just a little differently.