(Culinary.net) Eating healthier and saving time around the house are common goals for many families, and there’s one solution that can help attain both: meal-prepping. By planning and preparing meals in advance of each week, you can practice better portion control while creating free time for normally hectic mornings, afternoons and evenings.
Consider these tips to start your meal-prepping process:
- Include the whole family. By letting everybody in on meal-prepping, you’re helping ensure everyone is satisfied with the breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks that become your end results. Even if you only plan to work in advance on lunches, for instance, loved ones will likely enjoy the process more if all are pleased with the meals they enjoy later.
- Plan the meals. Once the whole gang is included and on-board, start brainstorming the recipes and dishes you’d like to make. Try starting with just one course at first – lunch is likely to be the easiest – to help keep meal-prepping simple at the start.
- Buy ingredients in bulk. Whether your grocery shopping takes place over the weekend or on a free weeknight, purchasing ingredients and supplies in bulk – without overbuying perishables like fruits and veggies – can help make sure you have everything you need once it’s time to build the meals themselves.
- Head to the kitchen. Pick one day each week when you can plan to spend ample time in the kitchen making your meals. Use cooking techniques that are less hands-on, like baking or slow-cooking, as often as possible so you can multitask throughout.
- Sort and divide. Using quality food containers to keep your meals as fresh as possible, start splitting up servings in ways that fuel you and family while instituting improved portion control. By sorting out specific meals ahead of time, you can begin creating better eating habits.
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(Family Features) Dinner can be a daunting task for any family with multiple mouths to feed. Factor in complex schedules and individual tastes, and a family meal can become a stressful thought for home cooks.
However, with proper meal planning and preparation, those stressful evenings can become a thing of the past. Consider these steps to becoming a better meal prepper:
If you’re new to meal prepping, don’t bog yourself down trying to come up with ideas and ingredients multiple days in advance. Start by planning just one or two days ahead then consider lengthening your prep phases as you get more comfortable.
Avoid overbuying by heading to the grocery store with a plan in mind or, even better, a specific list. While perusing the aisles, look for the Produce for Kids logo next to healthy, family-friendly items to help make nutritionally sound choices.
Go with What You Know
Rather than teaching yourself to meal prep while trying to learn new recipes at the same time, stick to the basics. Create dishes you’ve made in the past while you get into the habit of meal prepping.
Make It a Family Event
Recruit some help from your kids by enlisting them with some easier kitchen tasks. It can be a learning and bonding experience to make recipes like Easy One-Dish Chicken and Veggie Bake or Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadilla.
Plan for In-Season Produce
Certain fruits and veggies are stocked (and taste better) at certain times of year. Be sure to create shopping lists with these timeframes in mind.
To find family meal tips and more than 400 registered dietitian- and family-approved recipes, visit produceforkids.com.
Easy One-Dish Chicken and Veggie Bake
Recipe courtesy of Produce for Kids
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
- 1 pound chicken breast, cut in fourths
- 12 small red potatoes, quartered
- 12 ounces green beans
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon herbs de Provence
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- Heat oven to 350 F.
- Place chicken, potatoes and green beans in rows in 13-by-9-inch baking dish with chicken in middle. Drizzle with olive oil and season with garlic, herbs de Provence, salt and pepper.
- Bake 50 minutes, or until chicken reaches internal temperature of 165 F and potatoes are tender.
Nutritional information per serving: 554 calories; 8 g fat; 65 mg cholesterol; 87 g carbohydrates; 11 g fiber; 37 g protein; 9 g sugar; 82 mg calcium; 5 mg iron; 282 mg sodium.
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadilla
Recipe courtesy of Produce for Kids
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
- 1 large sweet potato
- 1 can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium taco seasoning
- 8 whole-wheat tortillas
- 1 cup low-fat shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- Use fork to prick sweet potato. Microwave 5 minutes on high. Let cool slightly.
- Cut potato in half lengthwise and scoop flesh into large bowl. Mash until smooth.
- Combine beans, cilantro and seasoning with sweet potato; mix well.
- Heat skillet over medium heat. Spread sweet potato mixture evenly on one side of tortilla, sprinkle with cheese and place second tortilla on top. Cook 3-4 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Flip and cook 2-3 minutes more.
- Repeat with remaining tortillas and mixture. Cut each into quarters.
Nutritional information per serving: 293 calories; 9.34 g total fat; 34.82 g carbohydrates; 10.39 g fiber; 17.04 g protein; 2.33 g total sugars; 237 mg calcium; 2.65 mg iron; 146 mg sodium.
Source: Produce for Kids