Fall Meal Planning
Fall can be a super busy time of year—kids go back to school, and it takes everyone some time to settle in to the routine of homework, sports, and after school activities. All this added bustle can stretch time even thinner, making it more challenging to stick with healthy cooking and eating.
It can be tempting to hit the drive-thru or order out—who has time to cook a healthy dinner? Well, with a little help, everyone does!
Here are some tips to make it happen:
Plan in advance. Take a few minutes to look over your schedule and note the days when you’ll be late getting home or it will be otherwise challenging to get a healthy meal on the table. Besides eating out, what are your options? Maybe you could block out an hour or two on the weekend for meal prep or cooking ahead. Or on the days when you do have time to cook, prepare for more than one meal by chopping extra vegetables, cooking extra chicken, or doubling a main dish recipe and freezing half of it.
Stock your pantry, fridge, and freezer with healthy, quick options for meals and snacks. Have canned or fresh tuna and salmon, boneless chicken breasts, and other healthy protein sources on hand. Round out meals with frozen veggies, just steam or microwave. Most supermarkets stock prepared fresh vegetables like spiralized zucchini or stir-fry mixes in the produce department. These options cost a little more than preparing everything yourself, but they’re much healthier options than fast food for when time is short.
Dust off your slow cooker. Imagine coming home to the smell of simmering chicken chili or a beef and vegetable stew. Search the Internet or consult a cookbook for modern takes on slow cooker recipes.
A pressure cooker can also reduce the time it takes to get dinner on the table. For a smoother cooking experience, read the recipe from start to finish, and do what prep you can in the morning to reduce waiting time at night. You can use both a slow cooker or a pressure cooker to make breakfast, too.
Another option is ordering from a company that delivers pre-measured meal kits right to your door. Most will customize recipes to your preferences. Follow the cooking instructions and you’ll have dinner on the table in a snap—and you won’t have unused specialty ingredients languishing in your refrigerator or pantry.
Don’t let a busy schedule derail your weight loss and healthy eating efforts. Experiment with these strategies and shortcuts to stay on track.