Busy Life Limiting your Meal Planning?
Written by Danielle Krueger, RDN, CD. Danielle is a clinical registered dietitian in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
How do you make a healthy and balanced meal when you are dealing with a hectic lifestyle? Hoping to avoid making a stop at the fast-food restaurant or throwing a pizza in for a last-minute meal rush? There are many options to help guide you with making good choices.
Do you prefer to use one of your cookbooks or look up recipes from an online site? Do you have certain meal ideas or recipes that you always go to? Are you looking for new ideas or just a better schedule of meal prep and grocery shopping? Do family members have meal ideas that you can include?
Check out your pantry and make an inventory of what ingredients you already have and what you know you should stock up on. After reviewing recipes, jot down special ingredients that you know you need to purchase next time at the store. Are there certain ingredients in your cabinets that you want to use up -can you find a recipe to incorporate them?
Put together a calendar of 7 days, 2 weeks or 1 month. After putting some meal ideas together, also ask others in your household to offer any ideas. This may help with more brainstorming of menu ideas or encourage them to help out.
Meal ingredient ideas to consider including:
Vegetables: Canned tomatoes like diced, crushed or sauce can often be useful in casserole, mixed dish ideas. Do you have spaghetti sauce and/or other canned vegetables that can be used in a pinch for a recipe idea? It is often helpful to have frozen vegetables and steamed frozen vegetables handy as well if you are out of fresh items
Fruit: Having fresh fruit can be ideal, but sometimes it can be helpful to have frozen or canned fruit in water as a back-up if you are running low before your next trip to the store. Dried fruit like raisins, craisins, etc can also be useful for recipes, salads and snacks.
Protein: Besides stocking up on meat sales, it is also useful to have canned and dried beans for different recipes. Dried lentils are also useful in trying out a meatless meal option. Canned or shelf-stable meat such as tuna or chicken can be useful in a pinch as well.
Grains: There are a variety of grains available that can be tried in new recipes. Consider including different rice blends such as brown, basmati, or Jasmine. What about a recipe that includes quinoa, farro or barley? Pasta shapes are plentiful such as ziti, orzo, or spaghetti noodles. There is also pasta made from legumes to try.
For more ideas of making a meal plan check out: Meal Planning | MyPlate.
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