How often does your family sit down together for dinner? Several times a week? Just the weekends? Many adults find themselves dashing from work to school to sports practice and it’s sometimes easier to stop at the fast food drive-thru than prepare a full meal at home.
However, research shows family meals are more likely to be nutritious, and kids who eat regularly with their families are more likely to select fruits and vegetables for a quick snack over junk food.
Getting into the habit of cooking more at home is easier than you think! Try these tips to get your family on the way to a healthier eating schedule.
- Schedule Dinners – Look at the week ahead to choose a time when everyone can eat together.
- Take Inventory – Go through your cupboard and refrigerator to see what you need to use before it expires. Find recipes for your must-use ingredients at websites like recipeland.com and bigoven.com, which allow you to search for recipes by ingredients.
- Plan a Menu for the Week – Get inspired by browsing recipe websites or Pinterest, or swapping recipes with friends.
- Make Your List– Compile your grocery list by category to save you time at the store. Websites like ziplist.com can help you create an organized list.
- Shop – Pick a day to grocery shop. By preparing ahead of time, your shopping trip should be quick and easy.
- Plan Meals – Determine what meal you want to serve each day based upon what is going on each day that week.
- Get Organized – Group ingredients for each recipe in your pantry and refrigerator to save you prep time each day. To make dinnertime even easier, place ingredients in storage containers labeled for each day of the week.
- Food Prep– Portion and prepare meats and produce so they’re ready to go when it comes time to cook. By pre-slicing and individually packing fruits and vegetables, you’re also more likely to grab them for a quick snack.
- Make-Ahead Meals– To ensure you have a healthy meal as often as possible, prepare an entire dish ahead of time and pop it in the freezer.
Quick Bite Recipes
These simple, time-friendly recipes can help save you from throwing away money on expired ingredients and wasting calories on snacks that lack nutrition.
Yogurt close to expiration?
Fill a plastic bag with yogurt, snip the corner of the bag, “pipe” small dots on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the freezer for a quick, tasty snack.
Make these quick, healthy cookies with just three simple ingredients.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Mix two mashed ripe bananas and one cup of uncooked old fashioned oats in a bowl.
- Fold in ¼ cup of chocolate chips.
- Spoon batter on a cookie sheet prepped with nonstick spray and bake for 12-15 minutes.
Fruit nearing its shelf-life?
Give your fruit a second wind by drying or dehydrating slices for an on-the-go snack. While this process is a bit longer than some of the others, the finished product pairs great with nuts (and even a bite of chocolate) for a homemade bite.
- Wash fruit in cold water and remove any pits/ stems/blemishes.
- For some fruits (such as peaches, nectarines and
apples), remove the skin and score the bottom by making a shallow “x” with a paring knife.
- Cut/slice fruit into even-sized pieces.
- Soak fruit in lemon juice and water for 10 minutes to prevent discoloration.
- Place in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Follow your dehydrator’s instructions for fruit prep. If you don’t have a dehydrator, try baking the fruit at a low temperature (approximately 170 degrees) for several hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Leave the door ajar to let out any steam.
Combine your leftover chicken with two other ingredients to make a healthy batch of avocado chicken salad. Just mash two cups of shredded chicken, one large avocado and ¼ cup of chopped cilantro. Enjoy!