Planning Simple, Healthy Meals
Author : Submitted by Member    -   Subject : Cooking

    Too often, busy schedules pose a barrier to healthy eating. But it doesn't have to be that way. With a little planning and not much time or effort, you could make all of your meals healthy ones.

    What You Should Know

    Stock Up

    Keeping a supply of healthy foods handy is key to preparing nutritious meals. When you shop for food, be sure to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables, poultry, fish, yogurt, low-fat cheeses, and whole-grain breads and cereals. Also buy foods with a shelf life, such as canned tuna and salmon, beans, pasta, quick-cooking rice, tomato sauce, olive oil, and soup broth. Frozen fruits and vegetables will come in handy when you run out of fresh produce or don't have extra time to wash, peel, and chop.

    Quick Fixes

    Once you have your staples, you're ready to create those simple, healthy meals:

    Grab some vegetables and chicken for a quick stir-fry. Buying pre-cut and pre-cooked ingredients will save you prep time. You also can add canned water chestnuts, straw mushrooms, and other Chinese vegetables available at most grocery stores.
    Try a cold salad on a hot summer night. Throw in some canned beans, peas, corn, and cubed cheese or leftover shrimp for a filling meal.
    Fill a taco or tortilla with your favorite ingredients and top with salsa and spices. Herbs and spices can add flavor and excitement to the simplest meals. Buy and store cilantro, rosemary, thyme, cayenne pepper, ginger, and any other favorites that add zest and zing.
    Boil your favorite pasta and try different toppings, including cooked vegetables and grated parmesan cheese. You can buy already prepared tomato, pesto, and alfredo sauces.
    The bottom line:
    Healthy meals can be quick and easy to make—and taste great!
    Loving Leftovers

    On weekends or whenever you have time to cook more involved meals, make extra servings to put in the freezer. Before you leave the house in the morning, put the leftovers in the refrigerator to thaw out. When you come home, all you have to do is warm up your meal and enjoy! You also can buy frozen dinners, but check the ingredients carefully to avoid meals high in fat and salt.

    Think leftovers when dining out, too. Rather than stuff yourself with oversized restaurant portions, bring home what you can't finish and heat it up for lunch or dinner the next day.

    Carrying Out

    If your shelves and refrigerator are completely bare and you have to “carry out,” consider healthy alternatives to traditional fast foods. Many grocery stores have salad bars, sushi bars, and hot food bars that include soups, vegetables, and chicken or fish.

    Recipe Hunting

    There are Web sites and cookbooks aplenty featuring quick, easy, and healthy recipes for people who want to eat well but don't have much time to spend in the kitchen or at the market. Have fun finding and swapping recipes—start your own recipe book or collection.

    Don't let lack of time or energy deprive you of nutritious meals. Remember, you are what you eat!

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