Many people agree that creating a healthy meal plan can be very daunting, especially when you consider the vast availability of unhealthy foods today, not to mention the lack of time for food preparation. How can you make eating in a healthy way more accessible for you and your family? Here are 5 easy steps to creating a healthy meal plan that works for you.
Step 1: The Basics of MEAL Balancing
At all meals, you will need 3 food choices: a protein, a starch or grain, plus lots of vegetables (fruit at breakfast). This is the FORMULA to healthy eating. Once you implement this daily within all your meals, it will ensure a more balanced approached to meal planning.
Step 2: The Basics of SNACK Balancing
A snack is simply a bridge to the next meal and is not a meal in itself. During the day, a snack should include a protein choice plus a fruit OR a vegetable OR a grain. The timing of your snack is important. Make sure your snack is 1 to 2 hours before the next meal. If you love to snack at night, keep it small & light. By doing so, you can choose your favorite indulgence.
Step 3: Be a Weekend Warrior Chef
Batch cooking on the weekend will help you and your family eat healthier during the busy week. Try cooking three different protein dishes over the weekend to ensure leftovers for quick dinners and bagged lunches for the upcoming week. Here are a few ideas.
- A slow cooker stew/soup/chili dish is always a treat for a hot, hearty leftover meal. Try adding extra legumes (beans, peas, lentils) for an added protein boost.
- A roast for supper on Saturday night will ensure leftovers for sandwiches.
- A mix of individual portion protein choices such as chicken breast/thighs, salmon filets or vegetarian patties ready to toss up with a quick salad or to cut up for a delicious wrap.
By midweek (Wednesday), you may need to cook an additional protein dish just to get you to the weekend.
Step 4: Don’t Forget the Grains
Grains or starches are usually quick and easy to cook. You can prepare these at the last minute. Remember to use whole grains as much as possible. Starchy vegetables such as sweet potato, corn, carrots, turnip, peas or squash are also healthy side dish options.
Tip: Cook squash fast by cutting it in half and removing the seeds. Cook in the microwave: 10 minutes on high with the cut sides down; 5 minutes on high with the cut sides up. Perfect every time!
Step 5: Pack on the Veggies
Vegetables can be tedious to prepare. They are often pushed to the wayside when you simply don’t have the time. Today, there are many prepared vegetable options available, like salads and pre-cut veggies, washed and ready to go. Eat Smart salad blends are nutritious, delicious plus very convenient. Using these ready to eat options will help you follow the basics of MEAL Balancing with ease and peace of mind.
Implement & enjoy these 5 Steps to creating a healthy meal plan that works for you.