Most people think of meal planning as some elaborate, hours-long event. In turn, the idea of meal planning itself can be exhausting. Instead of grocery shopping, meal planning for hours, and then making dinner on a Sunday, consider breaking tasks up into smaller, more manageable, and more effective steps.
The grocery store frozen section is wildly underrated. This is especially the case as food producers are heeding consumers’ demands of healthier on-the-go options. Compared to years ago, both food product and packaging boast better-for-you materials and ingredients. Single serving and resealable packages are standard offerings as well, making cooking for one or many easier. When shopping for bagged vegetables, grains, and protein blends, consider choosing those options with whole ingredients and little else. You can add your own seasonings for a boost of flavoring while maintaining the integrity of your healthy choice. If you’re looking for entrées, again, seek those that offer whole ingredients and lower sodium content. Some studies show that frozen foods can boast even more nutrients than their fresh counterparts. This is due to the ability to lock in both nutrients and flavor by picking foods at their peak ripeness and freezing shortly thereafter.
If you’re getting tired of the same holiday fare, there are several new stomach-worthy untraditional holiday meals ideas. The hors d’oeuvres only theme is perfect for nights like Christmas Eve when a crowd may be large and perhaps heading out the door for a night church service. Messina catering has a great guide on hosting appetizer only events. Homemade takeout is also a crowd pleaser. Even going semi homemade works. Simply stop by your local Chinese restaurant for rice to go and throw together something like this instant pot sesame chicken recipe. Fondue is a fun dining experience that is a sure-fire conversation started. While everyone is having fun, they’ll also be getting a variety of things to nibble on. You’ll be able to satisfy everyone!
During November and December, Holidays meals certainly are at the forefront of everyone’s minds. These holiday spreads have more things to consider when planning and prepping. From number of guests to dietary needs, it’s no wonder we spend a lot of time thinking about holiday dinners and brunches. Beyond these few meals, we have unwavering daily nutritional needs and thus other meal preparation and cooking to consider. Try making the most of the cooler temperatures and food seasonality by making soups and casseroles. Collards, Brussels sprouts, carrots, celery, apples and many other fruits and vegetables are available during the winter months. Winter squashes are the perfect base for Meatless Mondays, like this vegetarian stuffed acorn squash recipe. Hot sandwiches never disappoint, either! Check out this basic tuna melt recipe by Simply Recipes.
Packing well balanced, varied lunches can help your child establish a healthy eating pattern over time. There are so many ways to interpret "balanced" these days. Does a meal need to be "plant-based" or always have something green included to be healthy? In short, the answer to all these questions is a resounding "no." While there are many plate infographics that represent a healthy plate, a general rule of thumb that anyone can follow is to aim to get at least 2-3 food group each time you build a meal. With all of today’s trendy and useful lunchboxes (e.g., Bentgo to Planet Box) this should be an easy rule to follow. Do not overcomplicate things by assuming all items needs to be fresh or homemade, either. Sit down with your kid and ask for feedback on what they would like. A good question prompt may be, “Is there anything that a classmate of yours packed last year that you would like me to buy?”
Try this delicious Greek salad for a fresh, in season and hydrating dish! Whip this up for your next backyard get-together and make extra to use for lunches throughout the week. Simply combine the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, mustard, salt, and pepper in a bowl, whisk, and pour over the other mixed ingredients!
· ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
· 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
· 1 garlic clove, minced
· ½ teaspoon dried oregano, more for sprinkling
· ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
· 1 English cucumber, cut lengthwise, seeded, and sliced ¼-inch thick
· 1 green bell pepper, chopped into 1-inch pieces
· 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
· 5 ounces feta cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes
· ⅓ cup thinly sliced red onion
· ⅓ cup pitted Kalamata olives
· ⅓ cup fresh mint leaves
· ¼ teaspoon sea salt
· Freshly ground black pepper