It’s easier to eat a healthy diet when you use these tips to plan a healthy, quick meal.
There seem to be two extremes when it comes to planning meals. There are those people who never plan, those who prefer to «wait and see» what they want to eat. There are also those who, for good reason, do not have much discipline when trying to follow a diet. At the other extreme, there are those for whom planning a meal is part of the routine.
When I was in school, my best friend’s mom followed the same menu for weeks; Monday was chicken, Tuesday pasta … and so on. The only times I accepted an invitation were on Sundays, or «surprise night.» Somewhere in between these extremes is healthy meal planning that doesn’t have to be stressful or time consuming. So if your idea of meal planning means choosing between adding pepperoni or sausage to your pizza, here are some tips that can help.
• Keep a collection of quick and healthy recipes within reach. Quick and healthy recipes are easy to find in cookbooks, magazines, or online. When you have a dozen to choose from, you can use them in alternation and this way the dinner will not be very repetitive.
• Always have basic foods within reach. Keep vegetables, fruits, and seafood in the freezer. Also, keep your pantry stocked with whole grains, canned beans, canned tuna and tomatoes, vegetable or chicken broth, spices, and herbs. With these foods on hand, you can make a healthy soup, pasta, or curry in no time.
• Look for convenient products that you can use. Frozen vegetables can substitute for fresh ones, plus pre-washed and pre-cut salads can save you time. A cooked whole chicken or seasoned, grocery-ready meats can save you a lot of time, too.
• Prepare the ingredients once and cook for several days. If a recipe calls for half an onion or bell pepper, don’t stop. Cut more vegetables and you can use them the next day. If you are preparing turkey meat for a pasta, cook extra meat and can prepare tacos or stuffed peppers the next day. You can cook extra brown rice or quinoa and freeze half for another day. The beans stay moist and are easy to reheat in the microwave.
• Buy whole meals on a plate. The combination of protein, vegetables and starches in a single dish is a healthy and balanced option; you will also have fewer pots and dishes to wash.
• If you are organized enough and plan meals in advance, you will simplify your life. Once you choose the recipes, you can do the shopping for the week. When you select the menus and have the ingredients on hand, the battle of meal planning is practically won.