Quick and Easy Healthy Meals

 

Take out and fast food has become a common dinner choice in the U.S. during the past couple of years.  One out of four adults consume a fast food meal at least one time per day.  Many Americans now know these aren't the healthiest meal choices.  So the question is:  why do we always reach for a quick burger or an easy box of take out?  Well, just that -- it's a quick and easy meal.  Now with the holiday season in full swing, demands on our free time are even higher!  Below are a few quick tips to help get a quick, easy and healthy meal on the table for your family every night.
  • Plan, Plan, Plan -- The biggest time saver for families is planning for the week ahead.
    • Have a list of recipes or dishes you plan on making.
    • Write up a grocery list. 
    • Grocery shop in advance to buy ingredients.  That way, there's no need for emergency runs to the grocery store.
  • Prepare in Advance -- some foods and dishes can be prepared in advance -- like on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon (or any free time).  Look at the dishes you want to make -- can anything be made in advance?
    • Wash and chop veggies, fruit and other produce so it's ready to go each evening at dinnertime.
    • How about making a bowl of brown rice or whole wheat pasta and sticking it in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it?
    • Wash and chop lettuce and veggies for a salad (without the dressing) and put it in a plastic bag for easy "pour and serve" salad!
  • Be Leftover Savvy -- Making grilled chicken?  Or pork chops?  Make a few extra servings one evening and store the rest covered in the fridge for another meal.  That's one less item you have to cook the next night.
  • Keep Your Pantry Stocked -- Having a few items such as canned beans, canned tomatoes, and other veggies, broth/stock, dry pasta, rice and everyday spices can help pull a dinner together fast.  These can be the basic "building blocks" of a quick meal.  And if your pantry is stocked, these items will always be there when you're in a rush.  Check out or past blog on pantry staples.
  • Keep it Balanced -- Especially over the holidays when we eat more, keeping your plate balanced with a variety of foods can help you and your family eat healthy.  Make sure you have the following:
    • veggies,
    • lean protein like chicken, fish or beans,
    • whole grains like brown rice or whole wheat pasta,
    • low fat dairy like skim milk.
    • If there's space, a side or snack of fruit can round out the meal nicely!
All of these tips and suggestions can help you plan and prepare a week's worth of quick and healthy meals.  Even doing just one of the above tips can be a time saver.  Just remember to take a little time to plan ahead and you'll be set to go!

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© Eat Smart, Be Fit Maryland!Maira Gall