Making nutritious meals for every day of the week is easier to do than you might think. The most important thing to do is to make a plan.
Planning meals ahead saves time. It also helps you make healthier food choices every day. Create a weekly menu of daily meals and activities. If it is easier for you, try planning 3 days at a time.Start by planning supper meals and aim for simpler meals on extra busy days.
Plan to make enough so there are leftovers for the next lunch or supper. You can use leftovers as a basis for a new recipe by adding vegetables, salads or grains.
Use your weekly menu to create a grocery list. Find time every week to go grocery shopping and give yourself at least an hour. Shop around the outside edges of the store first. This is where you will find the four food groups of Canada's Food Guide: Vegetables and Fruits, Grain Products, Milk and Alternatives, and Meat and Alternatives.
Read labels Reading labels helps you make healthier choices. Choose foods higher in fibre and lower in fat, sugar and salt.
Families who prepare and eat meals together have healthier eating habits.Using your weekly menu, begin to prepare meals the night before. Use leftovers, defrost meats and set recipes out on the counter. Take advantage of crock pots, rice cookers and microwave ovens to get the most out of your time. Have washed and cut-up vegetables and fruit on hand, ready any time for snacks and meals.
Ask older children to start supper when they get home from school using the recipe set out on the counter. Have younger kids set the table or lay out breakfast and lunch supplies for the next day after supper is finished.
Packing lunches and snacks
Stock cupboards with take-along supplies such as food containers, plastic baggies, beverage containers, cutting boards and utensils. Aim to pack lunches after supper and involve the entire family. For those extra busy nights, pack the car with low-fat granola bars, a cold pack with fruit, vegetables and dip and lots of water.
Adapted from HealthLink Alberta.
More Information about eating healthy:
Canada's Food Guide
Dietitians of Canada