The clock strikes 5 p.m., and the all-too-familiar question pops into your head – what’s for dinner? The easy option is to pick up fast food and serve it to your hungry family. However, that might be an unhealthy choice. Be mindful that fast foods and ready-made meals are often loaded with too much fat, sodium and preservatives. Regularly eating fast food or ready-made meals can lead to high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and weight gain. Such foods can make you feel sluggish and ultimately result in more visits to the doctor.
Preparing a well-balanced daily meal doesn’t have to be an all-day ordeal. By planning out your meals on a weekly basis, you will find that you save money and time, have less stress and most likely eat healthier.
Make Meal Planning a Family Affair
- Taking the time to preplan your meals for the week – finding inspiration from healthy cookbooks or our dietitian-approved Healthy Living recipes – can be fun and involve the entire family.
- Asking your children to select a vegetable-based side dish for your entree may help encourage them to try new foods, particularly if they can help prepare the dish.
- Challenge yourself to find recipes that use some basic healthy ingredients, so you can make the most meals with the fewest resources.
- Also, select recipes that can be made in advance. For instance, you could make a healthy chili during the weekend; on the day you eat it, all you have to do is add a vegetable side dish or simple salad.
Focus Your Shopping List
Preplanning your weekly meals will help provide focus to your shopping list. Visits to the commissary will become more efficient, and you will be less likely to make impulse buys. Most importantly, you can select healthier, low-fat and low-sodium items.
Reap the Benefits
Planning out meals and creating a weekly shopping list reduces the number of times you will need to make spontaneous shopping trips for ingredients. It also means saving money from eating out less. The daily evening quandary of what to do for dinner will be a distant memory. All you need to do is pull out your recipe and the ingredients you need, and prepare your meal. Best of all, you will know that you are contributing to your family’s health.