Author – Patricia Mitchell
Do you find it a challenge to prepare healthy meals for your family during the week? You get home late from work, the kids are hungry, and you haven’t a clue about what to make for dinner. It’s tempting to go through the drive thru for fast food or pop a frozen dinner in the microwave. However, most packaged foods, fast food items, and restaurant meals are high in calories and loaded with unhealthy, artificial ingredients.
It can be easy to make healthy meals at home with just a little planning and preparation. The key is to designate a day each week for food prep in order to have healthy foods on hand that can be prepared quickly. Often the weekends are the perfect time to plan your menus and to prep your food for the week. Preparing food ahead of time doesn’t take a lot of time once you find a routine that works with your schedule.
Consider saving glass jars from store bought items such as pasta sauce and fruit juices to store food in the refrigerator for quick and healthy meals. Peel and slice a variety of fresh vegetables in a large enough quantity for several meals during the week. Wash and slice your favorite fruits for use as toppings on salads and yogurt, or for meals and snacks. Prepare sweet potatoes, brown rice, or whole wheat pasta to store in the refrigerator for side dishes. Cook several grilled chicken breasts that can be cut up for lunch salads, sandwiches or as the main dish in an evening meal. Try preparing a turkey meatloaf, ground chicken patties or casseroles to save time on meal preparation during the week. Also, crock pot meals are easy to make ahead of time and can be stored in the refrigerator for use later in the week for quick meal options. Follow these guidelines for suggestions that can make food prep fast and easy.
- Prepare ground turkey, ground chicken or ground beef that can be made into patties, meatloaf, meatballs, or just precooked ground meat to add to casseroles, soup, pasta sauce, tacos, wraps, or omelets
- Boil a dozen eggs for egg or tuna sandwiches, snacks or salads. Make mini omelets: Whisk several eggs in a bowl and add spinach, chopped tomatoes, onions, mushrooms or any veggies you like. Pour the mixture in muffin tins and cook in the oven on 350 for 20 to 30 minutes. These are great reheated for breakfast or snacks.
- Grill chicken breasts or cook whole chickens to be used as main dishes, sandwiches or added to salads
- White potatoes and sweet potatoes can be cut up to be used in soups, casseroles, crock pot meals, or baked fries and hash browns
- Tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, peppers, avocado, celery can be chopped for salads, omelets, soups, casseroles, tacos, or on burgers or sandwiches
- Melons, pineapple, apples, strawberries, oranges, peaches, bananas, mango can be peeled and chopped for use in oatmeal, smoothies, topped on yogurt, or as a side dish.
Plan your menu first, then write your grocery list. This will help you determine exactly what food prep needs to be done for your meals during the week. You will be surprised at how efficient you will become at meal planning and food prep. This will make meal time during the week less stressful and more enjoyable. Here are some menu ideas for quick healthy meals.
Breakfast menu ideas
Oatmeal topped with fresh fruit
Mini omelet, piece of fruit and whole wheat toast
Organic peanut butter on whole wheat toast topped with sliced bananas and strawberries
Organic plain yogurt with chopped walnuts and fresh blueberries
Lunch menu ideas
Spinach salad with cut up veggies and sliced chicken breast
Grilled chicken breast with sliced tomatoes and fresh fruit
Turkey burger on ½ wheat muffin with avocado and tomato served with baked sweet potato fries
Tuna salad made with organic plain yogurt and avocado, chopped celery, onion and pickles, paired with sliced apples topped with almond butter and cinnamon.
Dinner menu ideas
Grilled salmon, brown rice, green beans
Turkey meatloaf, mashed sweet potatoes, spinach salad
Whole wheat pasta with organic pasta sauce and turkey meatballs, spinach salad
Crock pot stew (chopped chicken, potatoes, green peas, carrots and organic chicken broth) served with baked apples topped with walnuts and cinnamon