Meal planning should not be stressful. Remember to keep it simple and fun! Stick to family favourite meals, try a new meal each week or month, and keep it basic with real ingredients. No need to set unrealistic menus and purchase a new pantry of ingredients.
Ask the kids to help. Prepare a weekly menu together. By involving children in preparing food, they’ll appreciate meals more and learn important life skills. Depending on their age, kids can wash and peel vegetables, tear up lettuce, mash potatoes, wash and cut fruit, drain and rinse canned beans or lentils, and stir a pot.
Money saving tips
· Wash, cut and refrigerate whole vegetables vs pre-cut vegetables like carrots & broccoli.
· Make homemade hummus, broth, and sauces.
· Purchase in bulk when possible.
Time Saving tips
Follow these simple tips to help save time preparing and cooking meals:
Chop extra fruit and vegetables when preparing meals so you have extra for lunches, snacks, and meals the next day.
Buy pre-cut vegetables such as broccoli, squash, and mushrooms.
Choose lower-sodium convenience foods to help speed up prep time. Try canned or bottled tomato-based pasta sauces, frozen or canned vegetables and fruit, canned tuna or salmon, and canned beans or lentils.
Cook on the weekend. Make then freeze meals for the upcoming week like soups, stews, casseroles, pasta dishes, and chili. These will come in handy on busy weeknights.
Cook twice the chicken or ground beef you need and keep extras in the fridge to make chicken salad, enchiladas, chili, or spaghetti sauce the next day.
Invest in time-saving appliances. A slow cooker is a great way to come home to a warm meal. A hand blender can help you make quick and easy soups, sauces, and smoothies. Use a mini-chopper to dice up garlic and onions.
Ideas for using leftovers:
· Add salmon to a salad or sandwich for a quick lunch.
· Mash to make salmon cakes.
· Make your own chicken noodle soup with whole grain noodles, lower-sodium broth, and frozen peas and carrots.
· Add chicken to a wholesome white bean chili.
· Shred chicken for quick quesadillas.
Chili or Pasta Sauce:
· Stuff peppers and bake.
· Use as a topping for baked sweet potatoes.
· Toss with whole grain pasta for a super speedy meal.
· Use in tacos or grilled sandwiches.
· Cook with lower sodium tomato sauce and frozen vegetables and serve over rice.
· Stuff a whole wheat pita pocket.
· Serve over baby spinach.
· Mix with whole grain couscous.
Cooked brown rice:
· Make a quick stir-fry with frozen vegetables.
· Add to soups and stews.
· Toss together a rice and lentil salad.
· Roll up leftover stir-fry in a whole wheat wrap.
· Add stir-fry vegetables and tofu to soup.
WRITTEN BY ANGELA BANKS, DIETITIAN WITH WILDFLOWERS