Meal Planning for the New Year

One great New Year’s resolution is to eat more healthfully. An easy way to make that happen is to plan meals ahead of time. When we are short on time, we often grab less healthy options, such as fast food. Making our own meals at home can be a healthier option. Here are some tips on how to plan for quick and healthy meals at home:

Make a Plan
Over the weekend, take time to look at the week ahead. What days will be the busiest? Which days will the whole family be home? For those days when everyone is home, plan a sit-down meal that everyone can help you prepare. See our blog “Quick and Easy Weeknight Dinners for Busy Parents”.

On busy days, plan to serve leftovers or have an easy to prepare meal. Make a leftover buffet! Let each person pick their favorite leftover (not everyone needs to eat the same meal). Frozen or canned vegetables can be quickly prepared without much mess to clean-up for a healthy meal for the family to enjoy. Another easy meal idea is to purchase a roasted chicken from the grocery store. Keep the meal healthy and save money by adding your own salad, vegetables and brown rice.  

Use MyPlate to Plan Meals
Create your meals using MyPlate as your example. A healthy meal will usually include vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains, with low-fat milk as your drink and fruit for dessert. When you look at the parts of the meal you are serving, which food group(s) do you need to add or limit? To help with your planning search for recipes on the EatSmart Site or on the USDA What’s Cooking Web site.

Think Seasonally
During the winter, you might rely on slow-cooker dishes or soups to keep you warm. By summer, you might be looking at salads, which are much lighter and easier to enjoy during hot months. Always try to use produce that is available during that season. This saves money and tastes great!

Use Weekends to Get Ahead
Make and freeze stew, chili, casseroles, or other main dishes over the weekend. Busy days are the time to pull those foods out, microwave or heat them on the stove/in the oven, and save time on meal preparation! Make sure you safely reheat all leftovers to 165°F, to prevent foodborne illness.

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© Eat Smart, Be Fit Maryland!Maira Gall