By Gaby Burt-D’Agnillo, BSc
Reviewed by Andrea Miller MHSc, RD, FDC
Today, we’re discussing easy and healthy meal preparation ideas. With a little bit of planning, it’s not as hard as you may think to create a quick and balanced meal to feed the whole family. The more you practice effective meal planning techniques, the easier it gets! Keep reading for healthy meal preparation tips and tricks, and recipes that only require a few simple ingredients.
Meal planning doesn’t have be time consuming or difficult. Following some of these steps can help you effectively plan and prepare family meals… any night of the week.
- Assess Your Stock: Before you go to the grocery store, check your fridge and pantry for staples you already have on hand to create the base of a meal. Staples like grains, fresh or frozen vegetables, eggs and other proteins are versatile and pack a nutritious punch.
- Map Your Meals: You’ll probably start getting ideas for meals just by looking through your stock at home. As a starting point, map out a few easy and quick meal ideas for the week (check out some recipes below!). Then, create a grocery list of the ingredients you don’t already have. This a great way to use up your household stock, save time and money, and reduce food waste.
- Grocery Shop: Take your kids to the grocery store so they can learn and explore with you. Don’t forget to check out the flyers and stock up on healthy basics when they’re on sale. For more grocery shopping tips, check out one of our previous blogs here.
- Prepare: This is another task that you can get the whole family involved in. Cooking together helps to build life skills, create memories, and encourage curiosity. The recipes below are made with simple base ingredients and use easy cooking methods – they can be adjusted to meet your preferences as well. When preparing batch recipes, don’t be afraid to use kitchen equipment like rice cookers, slow cookers, or instant pots to your advantage.
- Love Your Leftovers: Leftovers can be portioned into containers and frozen for quick meals later. It’s usually easy to double a recipe and save half for another day. You could even designate a “Leftovers Night” once a week – place all your leftovers on the table for everyone to enjoy, or reimagine them into a new dish that requires little effort.
Apple Pie Oatmeal: Easy, warm, and nutritious. This dish can be made on the stove-top or in the microwave. Oatmeal is also a good source of fiber to help keep you satisfied all morning.
Breakfast Burritos: Customizable – load these burritos up with whatever you like! They can be frozen and stored for up to three months. For a quick morning breakfast, simply wrap the burrito in paper towel and reheat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.
Fruit, Yogurt and Granola Parfaits: You can use homemade granola for this recipe if you have the extra time, or store-bought granola for convenience. Switch up the type of yogurt and fruit you add for a whole new flavour profile.
Lunch and Dinner Recipes
Beef Fajitas with Lime Sour Cream: Protein-packed and easy to eat. Get the kids involved in the cooking process too!
Chicken Pasta Salad: This recipe is fast and versatile. It will last in the fridge for up to two days – perfect for a make-ahead weekday lunch.
Fish and Herb Veggie Packets: Place your ingredients in a piece of parchment paper and let your oven do the work. These packets are colourful and loaded with micronutrients.
Mexican Avocado Salad: This Mexican “burrito bowl” salad is piled high in a mason jar for easy transportation. Fresh ingredients make all the difference.
Snack and Dessert Recipes
Banana Blitz Smoothie: As simple as it gets. Blend up frozen berries, bananas, yogurt, and juice to create an antioxidant-rich smoothie. Add ground flax for omega-3 fatty acids.
Blueberry Oat Muffins: Perfect for an early morning breakfast or daytime snack. Make these ahead of time and freeze individually for convenience.
Coconut Yogurt Ice Pops: These dairy-free popsicles use coconut Greek yogurt and are a great party treat. Add any kind of fruit you like!
If you have questions about menu planning or meal preparation, contact us here, for details about the online meal planning program we offer.