Need help preparing your meals? Try this

Advocate Health News

balanced diet plan with fresh healthy food on the table

You know that preparing your meals in advance can make your life easier and your diet healthier because you’re not rushing to find food during a busy week.

But all that prep can seem daunting.

Some basic guidelines can ease your entry into the world of meal prep. Krista Wennerstrom, a patient services manager and food and nutrition specialist at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee, shares a few tips to help build healthy meals and a sustainable routine.

Cut the complications

“Make a meal or snack prep plan with a list of your favorite healthy foods,” Wennerstrom says. By listing out the foods you need from the grocery store, you can ease your shopping experience. In addition, choosing simple recipes that can be made in bulk will provide you with decisions for what to eat for every snack and meal. She adds that starting small with two days a week is a great way to enter into a routine. Eventually, you can add additional days as you begin to feel comfortable.

Mix in the substitutes

Some foods are filled with vitamins and nutrients and can be overlooked when meal planning. Don’t forget about the innovative cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles. These are easy alternatives that make your planned meal a healthy one.

Try Krista’s dip alternative:

  • 1 cup fat free (or 1%) Greek yogurt
  • ¼ package Southwest Fajita Hidden Valley Ranch mixed together
  • Baby carrots, cauliflower and cucumbers to dip

Shave the costs

Meal prep can be a great way to stick to a budget. “Plan meals and snacks around foods that are on sale and in season,” Wennerstrom says. “Using lower cost food items such as legumes, eggs and peanut butter can be helpful.” She recommends avoiding recipes that have a “special” ingredient, as these can be expensive. Lastly, be creative with your leftovers. You don’t have to eat a lone chicken breast for every meal. Try incorporating chicken into soups, salads or sandwiches.

The Gist

Meal planning and prep allows people to stick to a budget and to be conscious of what food benefits their body and overall health. It can put a use to those extra cans of food in the pantry, leftovers, aid in portion control and help save time, all while keeping you on a healthy track.

Are you trying to watch your weight? Take a quick, free online assessment to learn more about your healthy weight range by clicking here.