Guest Author - Patricia Mitchell
With our busy lives it can be a challenge to prepare healthy family meals 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 prepare healthy meals for you and your family with just a little planning. Learn to set aside a day for food prep each week so that you have healthy food on hand that can be prepared quickly. Many times the weekends are the perfect time to plan your menus and to prep your food for the week.
You can purchase glass storage containers to store food in the refrigerator for fast, healthy meals. Peel and cut up a variety of fresh vegetables, preparing enough for several meals during the week. Cut up several kinds of fruits and store in containers to use as a side dish, in a salad, or add to yogurt or oatmeal for a snack or breakfast. Make sweet potatoes, brown rice, or whole wheat pasta and store in containers for side dishes. Cook several grilled chicken breasts that can be cut up for lunch salads, sandwiches or used as the main dish in an evening meal. You can also make turkey meatloaf, ground chicken patties, and the list goes on and on. Also, crock pot meals are easy to make on your meal prep day and can be stored in the refrigerator for use later in the week. Preparing food ahead of time doesn't take a lot of time and will make meals during the week quick and easy.
Here are some food prep ideas for the week that are fast and easy:
Cook ground turkey, ground chicken or ground beef that can be prepared in 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