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Home > Our Health Experts > Dana Yarn > Meal Planning Made Easy

Meal Planning Made Easy

One question that undoubtedly comes up on a daily basis with most families is: “What’s for dinner?” I know you have commitments and responsibilities and don’t have a lot of time to devote to planning your meals. Half of the battle is coming up with a plan ahead of time. To help, I want to share my system with you that will minimize your cooking time while allowing you to avoid convenience foods that have little nutritional value.

Before I let you in on my secrets, I need to point out one important thing: Of all of the daily commitments you make each day, perhaps the most significant is the one you make to yourself - to eat right and stay active. These food preparation strategies will help make honoring that commitment effortless!

1. Plan out the week: Write out all of your family’s activities for the week on a calendar and plan your menu around each activity. This way, you will avoid the frustration of having to come up with dinner ideas every evening.

2. Thaw out your protein item: Go out to your freezer in the morning and take out the beef, chicken, pork, or fish that you plan on eating that evening. Thawed meat will make the entire cooking process much easier.

3. Pre-cook your meals: I personally find this to be a big time-saver. For me, Sundays are a good day to set aside an hour for batch cooking. You can grill or bake chicken breasts, fish, lean steaks, etc. for the week and incorporate into a variety of meals. For example, chicken breasts can be served for dinner one evening, added to a salad to make a healthy grilled chicken salad for lunch, or used to make a delicious sandwich.

Remember, protein should be incorporated into every meal, and warming up pre-cooked chicken or beef in a pan or microwave makes cooking a snap! While you are grilling or baking your protein, multi-task: Bake potatoes, steam rice, and wash and chop your fruits and vegetables. Devote one hour to pre-cooking per week, and you will save time, and eat healthier.

4. Gear up with containers: Meal-sized containers keep things organized. You can fill up the container with a precooked stir fry, soup, or last night’s leftovers. You will have a great meal, ready to go, for work the next day.

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