No matter when or how you prepare your meals and snacks, it is crucial that they are healthy. Aim to incorporate vegetables or fruit, whole grains, and lean protein foods.
By doing this, MyPlate helps ensure a balanced meal including all food groups recommended in its recommendations.
Plan Your Meals Ahead of Time
Meal planning may seem like yet another task on an already full plate, but it can save time, reduce stress, and eat healthier. Meal planning allows you to map out meals for the week at once, eliminating decision-making around food and making it easier to resist temptation at grocery stores or drive-thrus. Furthermore, meal planning helps ensure that your daily nutrition remains on track when you’re on the move.
Meal plans can range from recipes to lists of foods you plan on incorporating into your weekly menu, and are an essential tool in ensuring adequate nutrients and balanced protein, carb, and fat intake. Meal planning apps or journals may be helpful; additionally it may be beneficial to keep a notebook with healthy recipes which you can refer back to when creating your weekly menu plan.
If you have children, get them involved with meal planning and cooking so they can gain a life-long skill. Research has demonstrated that when children help prepare meals they are more likely to eat it – this also provides them with an opportunity to experiment with new food!
As you plan your meals for the week ahead, focus on including recipes with vegetables and whole grains in them as well as fruit or snacks such as yogurt with berries for variety. There are numerous delicious yet nutritious recipes online as well as in cookbooks and magazines; be sure to select some new recipes each week for variety.
Once you have planned out your menu, create a shopping list containing all of the ingredients required for each meal. It may be beneficial to do your grocery shopping all on one day so as to reduce trips and expense; before heading out on this adventure, check your local supermarkets’ fliers or websites for what might be on sale before beginning your search.
Be sure to label and date food when making meals ahead of time so you know when it should be consumed; this will prevent unnecessary wastage of expired or unwanted products.
Plan Healthy Snacks
As is widely acknowledged, eating well is key to leading a healthy lifestyle. But finding time for proper meals and snacks can sometimes prove challenging when managing work, family and other commitments. Planning ahead can make eating nutritious meals and snacks simpler.
At its core, a snack should satisfy between-meal hunger and provide energy until your next meal, according to registered dietitian Beth Czerwony. That means choosing unrefined and nutrient-rich snacks such as an apple topped with peanut butter or carrot sticks with hummus as excellent examples of nutritious snack choices.
Junk food such as candy bars, soda, and potato chips won’t provide you with the energy necessary for a productive day – in fact, frequent consumption could even harm your body in the long run. So to prevent making unhealthy choices when hungry strikes, plan ahead by stocking your pantry and fridge with nutritious shelf-stable alternatives.
Start off right by creating a grocery list. Include fresh and frozen fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins on it as well as low-fat dairy and beverages without added sugars; instead of turning to fruit-flavored drinks when craving one instead try drinking water instead.
Consider keeping some healthy snacks handy at your office or work station so that when hunger strikes between meetings, there’s something on hand for convenient snacking – helping avoid vending machine visits or takeout orders when hungry!
Plan Your Meals for the Whole Family
Meal planning is an invaluable way to both eat healthier and save time, as well as stay within your budget and find recipes that appeal to everyone in the family – including picky eaters. This page offers recipes, tips and printables designed to make eating healthily as a family easier.
Gather recipes your entire family will enjoy — such as those featuring veggies, lean proteins and whole grains. Once your recipes are in hand, plan meals around them. Some families prefer meal planning apps while others create menus directly in a notebook or on their computer.
As you create your meal plans, take into account the needs and schedules of family members who may require quick meals before an activity or school event. Also think about how much time you want to devote to prepping each meal; if time constraints prevent that from happening, look for easy recipes requiring minimal prep and ingredients.
To maintain a healthy diet, aim to incorporate foods from all food groups at each meal – particularly foods rich in calcium, potassium, and magnesium. A balanced diet can lower your risk for conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.
As part of meal planning, one way to be aware of portion sizes is by targeting servings the size of a fist for both children and adults – this will help avoid overeating and promote weight management.
Planning meals around ingredients you already have available in your pantry and freezer can save time, money and avoid temptation from pre-packaged, high-calorie foods.
Plan Your Meals for the Week
If you’re planning meals for one week at a time, spending 20 minutes each weekend reviewing your meal plan and grocery list can save both time and money by helping to identify duplicate purchases – saving both money and food waste in the process!
Make an inventory of foods in your refrigerator, cabinets and pantry that you could use to prepare meals throughout the week. This may include staples like oatmeal and brown rice as well as frozen vegetables, canned beans or other versatile options that might come in handy for meal planning. Keep track of everything so that when it’s time for grocery shopping trips it will be clear what must be purchased on their next outing.
Make a list of any ingredients needed for specific recipes, such as quinoa for vegetarian dinners or chicken breast for stir fries. Also note ingredients that can be used multiple times; perhaps purchasing leafy greens to use throughout the week in salads or cooking extra chicken or salmon to use later on in other dishes.
Once your meal plan is in place, start shopping and cooking ahead. Plan “meal prep day” on your calendar to cook up several healthy meals that can be eaten throughout the week without making last minute decisions that may lead to unhealthy options like fast food delivery.
Some individuals use meal planning with weight loss or cholesterol reduction goals in mind; others eat healthier simply for budget reasons. No matter the motivation, a well-planned menu provides you with a strong base for good nutrition.
As you plan meals for the week, try including nutritious items from all five food groups — fruits, vegetables, grains, lean proteins and dairy/fortified soy products. This will ensure that you’re receiving an array of nutrients like calcium, potassium and fiber.