March is National Nutrition Month. This year’s theme is “Go Further with Food,” emphasizing a healthy diet while stretching your grocery budget and minimizing food waste. With a little meal planning and preparation, your family can enjoy a variety of delicious, healthy, and affordable meals all week long.
- Planning meals and snacks in advance will make your grocery trip quicker, easier, and more effective. All you need are two breakfasts and two lunches to alternate through the week along with three or four dinners.
- Overwhelmed by the idea of planning a healthy meal? Don’t sweat it! Keep it simple by focusing on making sure you have three important foods on your plate: a protein source, a starchy vegetable or whole grain, and something colorful (fruit or a vegetable).
- Need inspiration? Start with the grocery store’s weekly circular. It will stir ideas that are also budget-friendly, a win win! If you’re looking for a new recipe to try, check out Pinterest (app or website)– search any food and you’ll get endless pictures of tempting meals with links to the recipes.
Meal Prep for Success
- Dedicating just a few hours on the weekend to meal planning can save you time and frustration during the busy workweek.
- Prep meal staples that can be reinvented throughout the week in different recipes. For example, a large batch of roasted vegetables can be a flavorful addition to whole wheat pasta with store-bought sauce, homemade pizza, or a frittata. Slow cooker BBQ chicken can be enjoyed as a sandwich on a whole wheat bun, in a quesadilla, or paired with baked sweet potato and steamed frozen vegetables.
- Pressed for time even on the weekends? Many meals can be prepped ahead of time and frozen, which means one afternoon of prep could feed your family for weeks. Do an internet search for freezer meals and you’ll find infinite meal prep ideas.
Keep It Simple and Convenient
- A good meal doesn’t have to be complicated. Combining frozen, prepared, and quick-cooking foods can make healthy meals a quick no-brainer, even on a weeknight.
- Whole wheat pasta, frozen meatballs, frozen vegetables and store-bought marinara sauce can be combined into a hearty and fiber-rich meal.
- Frozen stir fry vegetables can be sautéed and combined with minute rice and store-bought stir fry sauce for a healthy alternative to take out cuisine. Make it a balanced meal by adding a frozen protein to your veggies, such as edamame or shrimp.
- Make a burrito bowl for dinner by heating frozen rice and frozen roasted vegetables on the stovetop and mixing with a can of beans, shredded rotisserie chicken, and salsa. Allow everyone to customize their meal with a variety of toppings including shredded cheese, avocado, crushed whole grain tortilla chips, and sour cream.
Healthy Eating (Nemours KidsHealth.org)