Meal Planning Can Help Ease Crunched Schedules

A guest post from Produce for Better Health Foundation.

image Autumn is officially here. School has started and our schedules are tight. Some evenings it’s difficult to gather the entire family for a meal, much less find the time to prepare one! How do you ensure that healthy eating stays on top of your priority list?

Serving healthy meals and snacks can be easier than it seems – even for the busiest household. With a just a little planning, you can stay prepared for those last-minute meals and snack attacks that might otherwise send you running for the drive-thru. Planning ahead for snacks and meals that are both nutritious and delicious is the key to success.

Making a weekly menu and shopping list is the best way to plan for healthy meals that include fruits and vegetables. Before heading to the store, plan out and write down what you and your family will be eating for the next week. It’s helpful to have the calendar with all the family member’s activity schedules within reach because this will dictate which day’s meals need to be made (and eaten) quickly.

imageWrite out a menu plan of what you want to eat and when. Then write down any  ingredients for those dishes that you don’t already have at home and you’ve just filled out your shopping list! Choosing all the meals and snacks in advance will enable you to make sure that everything you need to fix these dishes is purchased, saving you time by avoiding extra trips later in the week.

Don’t forget about all the work that the store can do for you to save you time on meal prep at home. A fresh cut veggie tray can be reapportioned into smaller containers once home to go in packed lunches for the whole family. A fresh cut fruit salad makes a great addition to breakfast, or buy a bag of assorted whole fruits for grab-and-go enjoyment. A bagged salad is quick to portion out. Add a rotisserie chicken and dinner’s almost complete!

Take advantage of extra time when you have it. Make a double batch of a veggie-packed casserole recipe or lasagna, then freeze half for a quick meal another day. Cook more ground beef or turkey than your recipe calls for, and then use the surplus to save time the next day.

If you’re looking for some new (and healthy) recipes to spice up your routine, check out the recipe section of www.FruitsAndVeggiesMoreMatters.org. Beef StroganoffThere is even a special section of recipes that can be made in 30 minutes or less! Here are two great recipes calling for autumn produce to get your meal planning started, Apple Chicken Stir-Fry and Beef Stroganoff.

Visit www.FruitsAndVeggiesMoreMatters.org for user-friendly advice on adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet; including, recipes, nutrition information, tips for getting kids to eat fruits and vegetables, and even videos. Follow Fruits & Veggies—More Matters on Facebook or Twitter to get the latest fruit and veggie news.

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