With the school year started, families are settling into a new routine. If your family is like many, coordinating school, work, and activities can make it difficult to find time to prepare meals. Here are three tips to help you make mealtime a breeze!
- Have a plan.
Creating a budget and menu for your weekly meals can save time, money, and stress in the long run! Utilize grocery store ads, foods that are in season, and a specific grocery list to get the best bang for your buck while shopping. To save time and eliminate stress, plan out when to cook around other activities. This will also keep you from resorting to eating out (which can be expensive and less nutritious) because you will have food ready when you need it! Spend Smart. Eat Smart. has meal planning tools to help you get started!
- Meal Prep.
Prepare food ahead of time so that meal time is stress free! Cleaning and cutting fresh veggies for the week is an easy way to make sure healthy snacks are always on hand. You can even pre-portion them into containers or bags so they are ready to take on the go! Another way to make sure healthy food is on hand is to batch cook. Cook enough of a main or side dish to last for several meals. Freeze them or store them in the refrigerator for up to four days. Here are some recipes that freeze well. Give them a try and see how easy mealtime can be!
- Create “Planned-Overs”.
Preparing a family dinner can be very satisfying! It can also make following meals a breeze! Casseroles and slow cooker dishes are easy to make for dinner and store for meals throughout the week. If you are making a dish with a whole cut of meat, poultry, or fish for dinner, cook extra to use in salads or sandwiches for lunches. Side dishes like cooked vegetables or grains can also be saved and used for later meals. See (link to my meal plan) for a few examples of how to plan leftovers into a menu.
What has worked for you? How do you plan meals, meal prep, or utilize leftovers at home? Let us know in the comments below!
Written by Emily Wisecup, ISU Dietetic Intern