Lienhart-Cross: Planning and prepping your meals in advance is a great family activity and will save you from stress

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By: Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross

Photo Supplied by Metro Newspaper Service

Most of us don’t think about how what you eat and drink determines how you feel physically and mentally. Healthy eating means making half your plate vegetables and fruits, and from my experience you have to plan to make this happen.

With multitude of available food choices, you have to be disciplined to practice healthy eating. Healthy eating means you plan meals, which also means you will make the most of your food dollars. Food prices have increased, and even though fuel prices have decreased I don’t see food prices being lowered.

It starts with family communication: Making the most of grocery store sale flyers, electronic coupons and placing meal plans in writing or on the computer so everyone is aware of the plan and may help.

Research shows that family meals have always been important, and now are more important than ever. Meal planning gets all family members involved in planning, shopping, preparation and meal clean up. You can also utilize www.choosemyplate.gov to make the most of your food dollars.

The ideal meal would be one that’s appealing and nutritious as well as easy and quick to cook. These kinds of meals can only happen for you and your family if you plan ahead and have the ingredients in your cupboards, refrigerator or freezer.

If you want to eat healthier and stretch your food dollars then you need to buy basic or raw food ingredients. Use store brands and items in sale flyers as much as possible. The costly problem in using convenience foods is that they cost more and are often high in sodium and calories from fat and sugar.

When sharing information on meal planning, I have been told by many readers that easy preparation and speed are what they consider most important when making food purchases. Many readers have also shared that they rarely have more than 30 minutes for meal preparation. By planning meals, cooking ahead on weekends and having other family members help, you’ll be able to free more time for meals that may take longer to prepare.

If you want to do more than think about eating healthier and meal planning, it makes sense that you and your family begin by getting organized. Having the discipline to eat healthier and practice meal planning can be the start of a healthier you for you and your family.

 

For more recipes and tips from Purdue Extension Educator Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross, subscribe to the Food & Nutrition email newsletter.

 

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