In this unusual time during the pandemic, my clients are asking for ideas on how to make this extended time at home a little easier around meal planning and preparation. Here are five creative ways to make meals healthy and enjoyable and enable your family members to join in the fun!
Cook Once, Eat Twice
I’m a big fan of batch cooking! Dinners, lunch staples, or snacks -- create a shopping list, so you buy double the ingredients to make a double batch. It takes little to no more time to make twice as much of something. The reward is a time off from cooking dinner the next day, or freeze the second batch for a quick and easy dinner a couple weeks later!
Meal Plan for a Week
To minimize trips to the store and exposure to others, create a meal plan for the week. Take inventory of breakfast, lunch and snack wants for your household, and then choose 5-7 dinner recipes. Create a shopping list beyond what is already in your pantry. Make sure you include a few favorites in the plan along new recipes so the family has both variety and something familiar to enjoy in this time of uncertainty. Click here for my slide deck on Meal Planning Made Simple coming soon as an online webinar.
Enlist Chefs / Sous Chefs
Get some help! It’s a big job feeding a household. Everyone can come up with meal ideas. Older kids and adults can research recipes and take charge of cooking a meal once a week. Younger family members can help with meal prep, restocking the snack box or taking inventory of the pantry. (And let’s not forget that all ages can help with clean up! ;-)
Create a Snack Box / Snack List
Ask your family for a list of 10-15 snacks they enjoy including fresh fruits and cut up veggies as well as packaged items. (Let’s not forget your favorite healthy, home-made snacks here too! ;-) Click here for recipe inspiration. Post this list on the refrigerator door. Snacks can then be accessed on-demand from the fridge or designated snack box.
Freeze Fresh Produce
With the fear of the unknown, much of the canned and frozen veggies and fruits are out of stock. Take advantage of all the fresh produce still available by batch cooking the veggies into stir fries, sautés and stews and freezing them in freezer-safe containers, so you can defrost them later for easy, flavorful side dishes. Yes, you can also chop and freeze onions, garlic and even ginger root! I suggest you chop up veggies for meal prep in the size you would use them when cooking from fresh before putting them in the freezer. Berries and grapes freeze better in a single layer on a cookie sheet after washed and thoroughly dried. Then you can pop them into a container and they won’t stick together. Peel bananas and break into 4 pieces, so you can take out 2-4 pieces at a time for a half or whole banana as needed.
Visit my recipe page for additional inspiration as well as @vitalandwell on Instagram.
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