It’s dinnertime. Do you know what you’re making?
Thanks to a global pandemic, more people are cooking at home these days. When you cook yourself instead of eating out, both you and your children are more likely to eat more fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods.
But with busy schedules fueling an increasing time crunch, planning meals 7 nights a week can be challenging. Cost is another issue. It’s hard for many people to make meals that are nutritious, delicious, and affordable.
Here are four ideas for getting a better handle on mealtimes, without stressing yourself out or spending too much money in the process.
To avoid getting stuck midweek with nothing to make for dinner, plan a whole week’s meals when you have more free time. For instance, if you work Monday through Friday, prep your meals on the weekend.
Choose recipes that contain all of the healthy essentials:
- Fruits and vegetables should make up at least half of the meal.
- Use whole grains like quinoa, whole wheat, and brown rice instead of white rice and pasta.
- Choose healthy and lean protein sources, including plenty of seafood, beans or peas, tofu, and eggs.
- Cook with healthy oils like olive and other unprocessed oils and fats.
You can also prep individual parts of the meal. For example, chop up onions and tomatoes and refrigerate or freeze them until you’re ready to use them.
Meal planning isn’t just a time saver. It might also help you eat better.
- followed nutritional guidelines more closely
- ate a greater variety of food
- were less likely to be obese than those who cooked dinner on the fly
If you’re a fan of the culinary arts in theory, but hate the shopping and planning parts of the home-chef experience, sign up for a recipe box delivery service. These services save you cooking time and a trip to the supermarket.
To use one of these services, you’ll need to go online and choose the number of people you’re feeding and the number of meals you want each week. Then, you pick from a menu of tasty, balanced meals that are already planned for you.
The company will send you a box filled with all the preportioned fresh ingredients you’ll need for each recipe, plus step-by-step instructions for making it. Prep the ingredients, mix them, cook, and voila!
Many of these meal services offer healthy options. They’re often portion-controlled to help prevent food waste. And some will let you customize with special options like gluten-free, carb-conscious, or vegetarian.
Recipe boxes might seem like a pricey option, but if you consider your usual supermarket bill, along with the probability of waste, you may even come out ahead cost-wise.
This tip will save you time and calories. When you cook, make larger portions, and then divide them in half or thirds.
Refrigerate or freeze the rest, and you’ll have dinner for 2 or 3 nights in a row.
Not feeling creative? Seek inspiration online or on your smartphone.
Type “healthy dinner recipes” into Google and about 2 billion results will pop up. You should be able to find at least a few recipes to help get you through the week.
Need more instruction than a simple recipe can provide? YouTube has videos from cooking pros, with step-by-step instructions that make it virtually impossible for you to mess up a meal.
Peruse available apps on your phone, and you’ll find many virtual culinary assistants there, too.
Apps like SideChef, Yummly, and Kitchen Stories offer recipes, meal planning tips, and even grocery lists — literally putting dinner prep in the palm of your hand.
Planning and cooking dinner at home doesn’t need to be hard. There are plenty of helpers and shortcuts at your fingertips, even services that deliver ingredients straight to your door.
The best thing about these options is that you can tailor them to your tastes, health requirements, and schedule. As a result, answering the question, “What’s for dinner?” has never been easier.