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10 Tips & Strategies for Successful Meal Planning
1. Make a Master List of 10-20 Meals
Ask everyone in your family for a list of their favorite meals. Prioritize the list, highlighting foods that you can quickly prepare and meals that don’t require too many ingredients. Organize this list by category, including beef, chicken, crock-pot dishes, fish, vegetarian meals, side dishes, and soups.
Gather the recipes and keep everything in a handy notebook or store them on your computer for easy access. You will refer to this list often when you plan your meals.
2. Write Your Meal Plan on Paper
I have used a blank calendar in the past, but I now use a piece of notebook paper. I list the days of the week down the left side to log my meals, and I use the right side of the paper to make my grocery list. I can then easily bring my plan with me to the grocery store.
I plan one week at a time, but you could easily plan two to three weeks or even a month’s worth of meals. Post the plan on the refrigerator for everyone to see.
3. Plan for All Three Meals
When I don’t plan for breakfast and lunch along with dinner, I am more likely to skip meals or visit the drive-thru. You can make quick and easy breakfast foods and with some careful planning you can still head out the door on time in the morning. You can also use leftovers from the previous night’s dinner to prepare lunches. Make an extra serving or several extra servings at dinner time to pack for the next day’s brown bag lunch.
4. Review Your Family Calendar
Are you working late this week? Do you have plans to visit the in-laws for Saturday night dinner? Do your kids have a soccer game or a Girl Scout meeting during the week? Take all of these scheduling issues into consideration when planning your meals. Once you know your family’s schedule, you can plan accordingly. For example, eat leftovers for those late nights at the office, take the night off from cooking when you visit your in-laws, and prepare a crock-pot meal for soccer night.
5. Plan Your Menu Around What You Already Have on Hand
To get started, you need to organize your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. Group the food in your pantry by category, including baking ingredients, canned goods, condiments, coffee and tea, pasta and rice, sauces, and snacks. Clean your freezer and refrigerator and throw out any expired food.
Once you’ve organized the food in your home, and thrown away anything that’s expired, take inventory of what you have on hand. Plan meals around the food you already have. In addition to reducing your grocery bill, this helps to eliminate duplicate purchases.
For example, I recently cleaned out our freezer and found some leftover cooked ham. After a quick look in my pantry and refrigerator, I realized that I had almost all of the ingredients to make ham risotto and a ham frittata. The few ingredients that I did not have went on my grocery list.
6. Plan Your Meals Around Your Grocery Store’s Sales Circular
Most grocery stores run their weekly sales circular on Sundays. My Sunday paper costs $2 and by planning my menus around the sales, the paper more than pays for itself.
Recently, my store’s circular promoted three-pound packs of boneless, skinless chicken breast at $1.79 a pound. I took advantage of the promotion and updated my meal plan to include grilled chicken salad, chicken stir-fry, and white chicken chili. I also purchased an additional package of chicken breasts for the freezer to use in upcoming meals.
The Sunday newspaper also includes coupons, which you can take advantage of. Learn the process of extreme couponing by combining coupons with grocery sales and thus maximizing savings.
Ten Top Secrets Of Portion Control
Before Eating, Divide The Plate
Here’s a simple rule to portion a plate properly: Divide it in half. Automatically fill one side with fruits or vegetables, leaving the rest for equal parts protein and starch. This way, you begin to see what a properly balanced meal looks like. Spaghetti and meatballs? Steak and potatoes? They’re only half a meal, incomplete without fruits and vegetables.
Pre-Portion Tempting Treats
The bigger the package, the more food you’ll pour out of it. When two groups were given half- or 1-pound bags of M&Ms to eat while watching TV, those given the 1-pound bag ate nearly twice as much.
Head Off The Mindless Munch
Five minutes after eating at an Italian restaurant, 31 percent of people couldn’t remember how much bread they ate. If you’re worried you might do the same, have the bread removed from the table.
Downsize The Dishes
If you’re one of the 54 percent of Americans who eat until their plates are clean, make sure those plates are modestly sized. On a standard 8- to 10-inch dinner plate, a portion of spaghetti looks like a meal. On a 12- to 14-inch dinner plate, it looks meager, so you’re likely to dish out a bigger portion to fill the plate. When researchers gave study participants 34- or 17-ounce bowls and told them to help themselves to ice cream, those with the bigger bowls dished out 31 percent more ice cream.
Limit Your Choices
The more options you have, the more you want to try. In one study, researchers gave two groups jellybeans to snack on while they watched a movie. One group got six colors, neatly divided into compartments; jellybeans for the other group were jumbled together. Those given a mix ate nearly two times more.
Use Your Power For Good
Most homes have a “nutritional gatekeeper” who controls 72 percent of the food eaten by everyone else. The person who chooses food, buys it, and prepares it wields power. If that’s you, take advantage of it.
Avoid A See-Food Diet
Office workers who kept candy in clear dishes on their desks dipped in for a sample 71 percent more often than those who kept their candy out of sight.
Turn Off The Television
The Vast Wasteland leads to vast waists. It’s not just the couch-sitting. TV distracts you from how much you’re eating, and the more you watch, the more you’re likely to eat. In a study comparing how much popcorn viewers ate during either a half-hour show or an hour-long show, those who watched more television ate 28 percent more popcorn.
Think Before You Drink
Pour cranberry juice into two glasses of equal volume: one short and wide, the other tall and thin. Most people pour 19 percent more cranberry juice in the short glass because the eye is a poor judge of volume in relation to height and width.
Serve Good-For-You Foods Family-Style
Not all portion-control strategies are about eating less. You can have as much as you want of some foods. Place the foods you want your family to eat more of―salads and vegetable sides―within easy reach on the dining table. In a soon-to-be-published study, Wansink found people who kept baby carrots in plain sight ate 25 percent more during a day.
Kid Friendly Easy, Healthy
Foods that Cause Major Bloating
Bloating is when your belly feels swollen or enlarged after eating.
It is usually caused by gas or other digestive issues (1).
Bloating is very common. About 16–30% of people say they experience it regularly (2, 3).
Although bloating may be a symptom of a serious medical condition, it is usually caused by something in the diet (4).
Here are 13 foods that can cause bloating, along with suggestions on what to eat instead.
(People often confuse “bloating” with “water retention,” which involves increased amounts of fluid in the body. Here are 6 simple ways to reduce water retention.)
Beans are a type of legume.
They contain high amounts of protein and healthy carbs. Beans are also very rich in fiber, as well as several vitamins and minerals (5).
However, most beans contain sugars called alpha-galactosides, which belong to a group of carbs called FODMAPs.
FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols) are short-chain carbohydrates that escape digestion and are then fermented by gut bacteria in the colon. Gas is a byproduct of this process.
For healthy people, FODMAPs simply provide fuel for the beneficial digestive bacteria and should not cause any problems.
However, for individuals with irritable bowel syndrome, another type of gas is formed during the fermentation process. This may cause major discomfort, with symptoms like bloating, flatulence, cramping and diarrhea (6).
Soaking and sprouting the beans is a good way to reduce the FODMAPs in beans. Changing the soaking water several times can also help (7).
What to eat instead: Some beans are easier on the digestive system. Pinto beans and black beans may be more digestible, especially after soaking.
You can also replace beans with grains, meat or quinoa.
Lentils are also legumes. They contain high amounts of protein, fiber and healthy carbs, as well as minerals such as iron, copper and manganese.
Because of their high fiber content, they can cause bloating in sensitive individuals. This is especially true for people who are not used to eating a lot of fiber.
Like beans, lentils also contain FODMAPs. These sugars may contribute to excessive gas production and bloating.
However, soaking or spouting the lentils before you eat them can make them much easier on the digestive system.
What to eat instead: Light colored lentils are generally lower in fiber than darker ones, and may therefore cause less bloating.
3. Carbonated Drinks
Carbonated drinks are another very common cause of bloating.
These drinks contain high amounts of carbon dioxide, a gas.
When you drink one of these beverages, you end up swallowing large amounts of this gas.
Some of the gas gets trapped in the digestive system, which can cause uncomfortable bloating and even cramping.
What to drink instead: Plain water is always best. Other healthy alternatives include coffee, tea and fruit-flavored still water.
Wheat has been highly controversial in the past few years, mainly because it contains a protein called gluten.
Despite the controversy, wheat is still very widely consumed. It is an ingredient in most breads, pastas, tortillas and pizzas, as well as baked goods like cakes, biscuits, pancakes and waffles.
For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, wheat causes major digestive problems. This includes bloating, gas, diarrhea and stomach pain (8, 9).
Wheat is also a major source of FODMAPs, which can cause digestive problems in many people (10, 11).
What to eat instead: There are many gluten-free alternatives to wheat, such as pure oats, quinoa, buckwheat, almond flour and coconut flour.
There are several alternatives to conventional wheat bread in this article.
5. Broccoli and Other Cruciferous Vegetables
The cruciferous vegetable family includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts and several others.
These are very healthy, containing many essential nutrients like fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron and potassium.
However, they also contain FODMAPs, so they may cause bloating in some people (12).
Cooking cruciferous vegetables may make them easier to digest.
What to eat instead: There are many possible alternatives, including spinach, cucumbers, lettuce, sweet potatoes and zucchini.
Onions are underground bulb vegetables with a unique, powerful taste. They are rarely eaten whole, but are popular in cooked meals, side dishes and salads.
Even though they’re usually eaten in small quantities, onions are one of the main dietary sources of fructans. These are soluble fibers that can cause bloating (13, 14).
Additionally, some people are sensitive or intolerant to other compounds in onions, especially raw onions (15).
Therefore, onions are a known cause of bloating and other digestive discomforts. Cooking the onions may reduce these digestive effects.
What to eat instead: Try using fresh herbs or spices as an alternative to onions.
Barley is a commonly consumed cereal grain.
It is very nutritious, since it is rich in fiber and contains high amounts of vitamins and minerals like molybdenum, manganese and selenium.
Because of its high fiber content, whole grain barley may cause bloating in individuals who are not used to eating a lot of fiber.
Furthermore, barley contains gluten. This may cause problems for people who are intolerant to gluten.
What to eat instead: Refined barley, like pearl or scotch barley, may be tolerated better. Barley can also be replaced with other grains or pseudocereals like oats, brown rice, quinoa or buckwheat.
Rye is a cereal grain that is related to wheat.
It is very nutritious and an excellent source of fiber, manganese, phosphorus, copper and B-vitamins.
However, rye also contains gluten, a protein that many people are sensitive or intolerant to.
Because of its high fiber and gluten content, rye may be a major cause of bloating in sensitive individuals.
What to eat instead: Other grains or pseudocereals, including oats, brown rice, buckwheat or quinoa.
9. Dairy Products
Dairy is highly nutritious, as well as an excellent source of protein and calcium.
There are many dairy products available, including milk, cheese, cream cheese, yogurt and butter.
However, about 75% of the world’s population can’t break down lactose, the sugar found in milk. This condition is known as lactose intolerance (16, 17).
If you’re lactose intolerant, dairy can cause major digestive problems. Symptoms include bloating, gas, cramping and diarrhea.
What to eat instead: People who are lactose intolerant can sometimes handle cream and butter, or fermented dairy like yogurt (18).
Lactose-free milk products are also available. Other alternatives to regular milk include coconut, almond, soy or rice milk.
Apples are among the most popular fruits in the world.
They are high in fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants, and have been linked with a range of health benefits (19, 20).
However, apples have also been known to cause bloating and other digestive issues for some people.
The culprits are fructose (which is a FODMAP) and the high fiber content. Fructose and fiber can both be fermented in the large intestine, and may cause gas and bloating.
Cooked apples may be easier to digest than fresh ones.
What to eat instead: Other fruits, such as bananas, blueberries, grapefruit, mandarins, oranges or strawberries.
Garlic is incredibly popular, both for flavoring and as a health remedy.
Like onions, garlic contains fructans, which are FODMAPs that can cause bloating (21).
Allergy or intolerance to other compounds found in garlic is also fairly common, with symptoms such as bloating, belching and gas (22).
However, cooking the garlic may reduce these effects.
What to eat instead: Try using other herbs and spices in your cooking, such as thyme, parsley, chives or basil.
12. Sugar Alcohols
Sugar alcohols are used to replace sugar in sugar-free foods and chewing gums.
Common types include xylitol, sorbitol and mannitol.
Sugar alcohols are also FODMAPs. They tend to cause digestive problems, since they reach the large intestine unchanged where the gut bacteria feed on them.
Consuming high amounts of sugar alcohols may cause digestive issues, such as bloating, gas and diarrhea.
What to eat instead: Erythritol is also a sugar alcohol, but it is easier on digestion than the ones mentioned above. Stevia is also a healthy alternative to sugar and sugar alcohols.
Everyone has probably heard the term “beer belly” used before.
It refers not only to increased belly fat, but also to the bloating caused by drinking beer.
Beer is a carbonated beverage made from sources of fermentable carbs like barley, maize, wheat and rice, along with some yeast and water.
Therefore, it contains both gas (carbon dioxide) and fermentable carbs, two well-known causes of bloating. The grains used to brew the beer also often contain gluten.
What to drink instead: Water is always the best beverage, but if you are looking for alcoholic alternatives then red wine, white wine or spirits may cause less bloating.
Other Ways to Reduce Bloating
Bloating is a very common problem, but can often be resolved with relatively simple changes.
There are several strategies that can help reduce bloating, outlined in this article.
If you have persistent digestive problems, then you may want to consider a low-FODMAP diet. It can be incredibly effective, not just for bloating but for other digestive issues as well.
However, make sure to also see a doctor to rule out a potentially serious medical condition.
Take Home Message
If you have problems with bloating, then chances are that a food on this list is the culprit.
That being said, there is no reason to avoid all of these foods, only the ones that cause you problems personally.
If you find that a certain food consistently makes you bloated, then simply avoid it. No food is worth suffering for.
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Manners on the Menu: Ten Tips for Eating Out with Young Kids
10 Tips to Manners on the Menu During Your Next Outing
1. Practice at home first. In calm moments at home, take time for training before you venture out to a restaurant. Practice proper dinner manners by inviting stuffed animals or friends to a tea party or snack. Role play good choices like sitting still, using utensils and waiting patiently. Don’t forget the importance of emphasizing manners at the dinner table every night – your kids will be better able to follow the rules when dining out when they know what’s expected of them at the table.
2. Choose your restaurant carefully. This may not be the best time to try sushi for the first time at the trendy new place downtown. Before eating out with young kids, be realistic in your expectations. Pick a restaurant where you know your kids will find something they like on the menu, where you can order quickly and receive your food without waiting too long. If your kids are small, try a place where small spills and messes aren’t a big deal – not a fancy place where you’d be worried about the tablecloth and china. Restaurants with more activity may be better so that kids don’t have to try to speak in hushed tones – and the goings-on can give them something to watch, as well. However, keep in mind that restaurants with a lot of TVs can distract kids from conversation or eating their meals.
3. Respect your kids’ attention span. Waiting for a meal in a busy restaurant can be tough for hungry adults too, but remember that kids have a shorter attention span than we do. This may not be the time to try a hometown favorite so popular you know you’ll have a long wait for a table. If you know the deep dish takes twice as long as the thin crust at the local pizza place, save it for another time. Some places will bring kids’ meals out first at your request.
4. Time it right. Plan to eat early so your child isn’t overly tired or hungry – and it may help you avoid waits for tables and service, too. You may not be hungry at 5:00, but account for the drive and your wait for the food – it may be 5:45 or later before you eat.
5. Bring activities to keep them busy. When eating out with young kids, bring small coloring books or small puzzles and games to keep kids occupied while they wait for food. Try simple games like “I Spy” or “Simon Says.” Focus on activities you can do with your child rather than handing over your phone or allowing them to bring a tablet or video games to the table.
6. Don’t count out appetizers. Consider ordering a kid-friendly appetizer as soon as you’re seated, or if the restaurant allows outside food, bring a small bag of grapes or crackers to take the edge off your kids’ hunger as they wait. Bring pre-portioned snacks so there’s not an opportunity to overindulge on the snacks and not eat the meal.
7. Consider this a family date night. Make sure to include your kids in the conversation. If they feel they are being ignored, your child will find ways to get your attention – and probably not in the ways you’d prefer.
8. Set expectations ahead of time. When you’ve done plenty of training at home, be clear with kids how they’re expected to act while eating out and what the consequences are if they choose to not follow the rules. “Joey, if you get in and out of your chair, Mom or Dad will take you out to the car so the rest of the family can finish eating.” Taking the child out of the restaurant isn’t punishment, but it is an indication to you that your child wasn’t ready yet. Train some more at home and try again. Most importantly, follow through. If your child is acting up, remain calm and stick to the consequences. Otherwise, your child will learn that he doesn’t have to follow your rules.
9. If the spaghetti flies, stay calm. If your child can see that her behavior is bothering you, she’s more likely to escalate that poor behavior to engage you in a power struggle. Remain unfazed by her behavior and follow through with the consequences you discussed during your training.
10. Practice, practice, practice. Learning to eat out – how to sit, how loud to talk, how to use your napkin, good dinner conversation and more – it all takes practice. The more chances your kids have, the better they’ll get at it.
Eating processed foods
Processed foods aren’t just microwave meals and other ready meals. The term ‘processed food’ applies to any food that has been altered from its natural state in some way, either for safety reasons or convenience.
This means you may be eating more processed food than you realise.
Processed foods aren’t necessarily unhealthy, but anything that’s been processed may contain added salt, sugar and fat.
One advantage of cooking food from scratch at home is that you know exactly what is going into it, including the amount of added salt or sugar.
However, even homemade food sometimes uses processed ingredients. Read on to find out how you can eat processed foods as part of a healthy diet.
What counts as processed food?
Most shop-bought foods will have been processed in some way.
Examples of common processed foods include:
savoury snacks, such as crisps
meat products, such as bacon
“convenience foods”, such as microwave meals or ready meals
drinks, such as milk or soft drinks
Food processing techniques include freezing, canning, baking, drying and pasteurising products.
Dietitian Sian Porter says: “Not all processed food is a bad choice. Some foods need processing to make them safe, such as milk, which needs to be pasteurised to remove harmful bacteria. Other foods need processing to make them suitable for use, such as pressing seeds to make oil.
“Freezing fruit and veg preserves most vitamins, while tinned produce (choose those without added sugar and salt) can mean convenient storage, cooking and choice to eat all year round, with less waste and cost than fresh.”
What makes some processed foods less healthy?
Ingredients such as salt, sugar and fat are sometimes added to processed foods to make their flavour more appealing and to prolong their shelf life, or in some cases to contribute to the food’s structure, such as salt in bread or sugar in cakes.
This can lead to people eating more than the recommended amounts for these additives, as they may not be aware of how much has been added to the food they are buying and eating. These foods can also be higher in calories due to the high amounts of added sugar or fat in them.
Furthermore, a diet high in red and processed meat (regularly eating more than 90g a day) has also been linked to an increased risk of bowel cancer. Some studies have also shown that eating a large amount of processed meat may be linked to a higher risk of cancer or heart disease.
What is processed meat?
Processed meat refers to meat that has been preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives. This includes sausages, bacon, ham, salami and pâtés.
The Department of Health recommends that if you currently eat more than 90g (cooked weight) of red and processed meat a day, that you cut down to 70g a day. This is equivalent to two or three rashers of bacon, or a little over two slices of roast lamb, beef or pork, with each about the size of half a slice of bread.
However, it’s important to remember that the term “processed” applies to a very broad range of foods, many of which can be eaten as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
How can I eat processed foods as part of a healthy diet?
Reading nutrition labels can help you choose between processed products and keep a check on the amount of processed foods you’re eating that are high in fat, salt and added sugars.
Adding tinned tomatoes to your shopping basket, for example, is a great way to boost your 5 a day. They can also be stored for longer and cost less than fresh tomatoes – just check the label to make sure there’s no added salt or sugar.
Most pre-packed foods have a nutrition label on the back or side of the packaging.
This type of label includes information on energy (kJ/kcal), fat, saturates (saturated fat), carbohydrate, sugars, protein and salt. It may also provide additional information on certain nutrients such as fibre. All nutrition information is provided per 100 grams and sometimes per portion of the food.
How do I know if a processed food is high in fat, saturated fat, sugar or salt?
There are guidelines to tell you if a food is high or low in fat, saturated fat, salt or sugar. These are:
High: more than 17.5g of fat per 100g
Low: 3g of fat or less per 100g
High: more than 5g of saturated fat per 100g
Low: 1.5g of saturated fat or less per 100g
High: more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g
Low: 5g of total sugars or less per 100g
High: more than 1.5g of salt per 100g (or 0.6g sodium)
Low: 0.3g of salt or less per 100g (or 0.1g sodium)
For example, if you are trying to cut down on saturated fat, try to limit the amount of foods you eat that have more than 5g of saturated fat per 100g.
If the processed food you want to buy has a nutrition label that uses colour-coding, you will often find a mixture of red, amber and green. So, when you’re choosing between similar products, try to go for more greens and ambers, and fewer reds, if you want to make a healthier choice.
However, even healthier ready meals may be higher in fat and other additives than a homemade equivalent. That’s not to say that homemade foods can’t also be high in calories, fat, salt and sugar, but if you make the meal yourself, you’ll have a much better idea of what’s gone into it. You could even save yourself some money, too.
Meal Plans: The Key To Stress-Free Weeks
1. Cook foods that can be stretched over the course of few meals. Roasting a chicken or preparing roast beef offers a main course one evening, with leftovers available for soups and sandwiches.
2. Think of your freezer as your friend. If you are making a batch of chili, double the recipe and freeze the remainder in small containers that can serve 1-2 folks, combining those containers when you need to feed more mouths.
3. Research and have at the ready, a handful of meals that you can prepare quickly, in a pinch. One night of the week doesn’t have to be fully planned, but have a suite of ingredients on hand that best allows you to make a meal quickly and easily.
4. After you have eaten, put away your leftovers, making a mental note of how you might use them the next day for breakfast or lunch. Leftovers, properly stored and used, stretch your dollar.
Shopping and preparing meals is a chore to many, but with a solid week-long meal plan you can focus on getting your groceries one day and even preparing some items in advance. During the week, the previously stressful act of meal preparation eases to allow more time enjoying the food and each other’s company.
10 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
Experts say portion control is key when the temptations are endless.
It’s that time of year when extra calories lurk around every corner — frosted cookies at the office, eggnog at your neighbor’s, jelly doughnuts for Hanukkah or chocolates in your stocking. All these extras add up, and if you’re like most Americans, you’ll put on a pound or two by New Year’s Day.
So what’s the harm in a little holiday weight gain, especially if it’s just a pound? According to researchers at the National Institutes of Health, most Americans never lose the weight they gain during the winter holidays. The pounds add up year after year, making holiday weight gain an important factor in adult obesity.
But you don’t have to fall into this trap. It is possible to enjoy holiday goodies without putting on a single pound. “Portion control is the key,” says Susan Finn, PhD, RD. Finn serves as chairwoman of the American Council for Fitness and Nutrition. “I don’t believe you can’t eat food that you like — even indulgences — but it is the amount you eat,” she tells WebMD.
Of course, it’s not easy to go on portion patrol when the temptations are endless. That’s why WebMD compiled these tips to help you avoid overindulging.
1. Never Arrive Hungry
New York psychologist Carol Goldberg, PhD, says planning ahead can help you maintain discipline in the face of temptation. “Don’t go to a party when you’re starving,” she warns. Try to have a nutritious snack beforehand. If you do arrive hungry, drink some water to fill up before filling your plate.
2. Divert Your Attention
Many people forget that there’s more to a holiday party than food, Goldberg tells WebMD. “Don’t look at the party as just a food event,” she says. “Enjoy your friends’ company or dancing. Focus on something other than food.”
Finn agrees. She says chatting is a great diversion, whether you’re at a small family dinner or a large party. “Take your mind off of food and focus on the conversation.”
3. Pace Yourself
Have you ever tried telling yourself you’ll only eat during the first half hour of a party? Goldberg says this strategy is a mistake. “If you cram in as much as you can in half an hour, you chew faster. Chewing more slowly will fill you up with less food.”
To munch at a leisurely pace, Finn recommends putting your fork down between every bite. “This puts you in control.”
4. Count Your CanapÃ©s
When there are canaps, it’s easy to lose count of how many you eat. Keep track by stashing a toothpick in your pocket for each one. Set a limit and stick to it.
5. Outsmart the Buffet
When dinner is served buffet-style, use the smallest plate available and don’t stack your food; limit your helpings to a single story. “Go for the simplest foods on the buffet,” Finn says. “Fresh fruits and vegetables and shrimp cocktail are good choices. Watch out for sauces and dips.”
6. Limit Alcohol
Avoid drinking too much alcohol at holiday parties. “It’s not just about calories but about control,” Finn explains. “If you drink a lot you, won’t have as much control over what you eat.”
If you feel out of place without a drink, Goldberg suggests sipping water or club soda, “so you have something to carry like everyone else.”
7. Be Choosy About Sweets
When it comes to dessert, be very selective. “Limit your indulgences to small portions and only what is very sensual to you,” Goldberg says. Her personal rule on sweets: “If it’s going to have calories, it has to be chocolate.”
8. Bring Your Own Treats
Whether you’re going to a friend’s party or an office potluck, consider bringing a low-calorie treat that you know you’ll enjoy. Bringing your own dessert will make the more fattening alternatives less tempting.
And don’t feel your dessert has to be typical holiday fare. “Get away from rigid thinking about what holiday food has to be,” Goldberg says. “People love fruit.”
9. Limit ‘Tastes’ While Cooking
If you do a lot of cooking during the holidays, crack down on all those “tastes.” “People lose their appetites when they’ve been cooking because they’ve been eating the whole time,” Finn tells WebMD. Instead of tasting mindlessly every few minutes, limit yourself to two small bites of each item pre- and post-seasoning. “Just put the spoon in and taste a little bit,” Finn says. “It’s not grounds for a big scoop.”
For tried-and-true recipes, dare yourself not to taste the dish at all until it is served.
Make a new holiday tradition: the family walk. Besides burning some extra calories, this will get everyone away from the food for awhile.
Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating
The holiday season is a time to celebrate with family and friends. Unfortunately, for many it also becomes a time for over-eating and weight gain. According to the National Institutes of Health, holiday eating can result in an extra pound or two every year. Over a lifetime, holiday weight gain can really add up. The holidays don’t have to mean weight gain. Focus on a healthy balance of food, activity, and fun. By implementing a few simple tips you can stay healthy through the holiday season.
Ten Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating
Be realistic. Don’t try to lose pounds during the holidays, instead try to maintain your current weight.
Plan time for exercise. Exercise helps relieve holiday stress and prevent weight gain. A moderate and daily increase in exercise can help partially offset increased holiday eating. Try 10- or 15-minute brisk walks twice a day.
Don’t skip meals. Before leaving for a party, eat a light snack like raw vegetables or a piece of fruit to curb your appetite. You will be less tempted to over-indulge.
Survey party buffets before filling your plate. Choose your favorite foods and skip your least favorite. Include vegetables and fruits to keep your plate balanced.
Eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed. Savor your favorite holiday treats while eating small portions. Sit down, get comfortable, and enjoy.
Be careful with beverages. Alcohol can lessen inhibitions and induce overeating; non-alcoholic beverages can be full of calories and sugar.
If you overeat at one meal go light on the next. It takes 500 calories per day (or 3,500 calories per week) above your normal/maintenance consumption to gain one pound. It is impossible to gain weight from one piece of pie!
Take the focus off food. Turn candy and cookie making time into non-edible projects like making wreaths, dough art decorations or a gingerbread house. Plan group activities with family and friends that aren’t all about food. Try serving a holiday meal to the community, playing games or going on a walking tour of decorated homes.
Bring your own healthy dish to a holiday gathering.
Practice Healthy Holiday Cooking. Preparing favorite dishes lower in fat and calories will help promote healthy holiday eating. Incorporate some of these simple-cooking tips in traditional holiday recipes to make them healthier.
Gravy — Refrigerate the gravy to harden fat. Skim the fat off. This will save a whopping 56 gm of fat per cup.
Dressing — Use a little less bread and add more onions, garlic, celery, and vegetables. Add fruits such as cranberries or apples. Moisten or flavor with low fat low sodium chicken or vegetable broth and applesauce.
Turkey – Enjoy delicious, roasted turkey breast without the skin and save 11 grams of saturated fat per 3 oz serving.
Green Bean Casserole — Cook fresh green beans with chucks of potatoes instead of cream soup. Top with almonds instead of fried onion rings.
Mashed Potato — Use skim milk, chicken broth, garlic or garlic powder, and Parmesan cheese instead of whole milk and butter.
Quick Holiday Nog — Four bananas, 1-1/2 cups skim milk or soymilk, 1-1/2 cups plain nonfat yogurt, 1/4 teaspoon rum extract, and ground nutmeg. Blend all ingredients except nutmeg. Puree until smooth. Top with nutmeg.
Desserts — Make a crustless pumpkin pie. Substitute two egg whites for each whole egg in baked recipes. Replace heavy cream with evaporated skim milk in cheesecakes and cream pies. Top cakes with fresh fruit, fruit sauce, or a sprinkle of powdered sugar instead of fattening frosting.
Enjoy the holidays, plan a time for activity, incorporate healthy recipes into your holiday meals, and don’t restrict yourself from enjoying your favorite holiday foods. In the long run, your mind and body will thank you.
Carla Hall Thanksgiving Deal- Turkey Carving.
Getting Kids to Eat Healthy.
My Plate, My Wins (healthy eating)
Cooking Healthy Family Meals
How to Meal Plan for Your Family
There are many benefits to meal planning for your family, including healthy eating. By learning how to plan weekly meals and eating meals at home, you can control your portions and avoid eating hidden calories. In addition, family meals eaten at home tend to be less expensive and higher in nutrients.
Planning healthy, balanced family meals for the week can be a time saver for even the busiest people. By shopping for your meals once a week, you can save time, money and gas by making fewer trips to the grocery store or drive-thru. Taking some time to learn how to plan balanced meals for your family will save you time—and help you eat better—in the long run.
When children are involved in the planning process they’ll be more likely to eat what is prepared. Ask your children and other family members what foods they would like to eat during the week. It will also be easier to get help with the meal preparation and clean-up process if their food preferences are considered. Search for delicious recipes to get more ideas.
Do you combine fresh and convenience foods to make the meal faster? Is cooking something you enjoy and don’t mind spending time doing? Do you prefer to cook from scratch or do you rely on frozen and canned foods such as frozen broccoli or, canned tomatoes or beans to make the meal easier to prepare? Take the Food Personality Quiz to determine your cooking style, then get recipe recommendations and personalized shopping lists.
Adding meal staples to your shopping list makes it easier to create quick meals on busy nights. Make sure your pantry, cupboards, refrigerator and freezer are stocked with healthy foods from all of the food groups like milk, cheese, tomatoes, garlic, onions, apples, bananas, bread, cereal, pasta, rice, tortillas, beans, etc. Remember, the food you have on hand will determine how healthfully you eat so, choose wisely.
Once you’ve made a list of the recipes you’re planning to prepare, including snacks and staples, make a list of all the ingredients that you will need to prepare these meals. Make sure your list includes nutrient-rich foods from all the food groups, then check your pantry and refrigerator to see what you may already have on hand. Make adjustments to your list and take your list to the store.
For our family, eating healthy is fairly simple, and perhaps a little old-school. It includes homemade meals, lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, and watching our sugar intake. We stick to the natural fats (BUTTER, Olive Oil, and Coconut Oil) and believe that red meat, dairy, and pasta are good for you when eaten in moderation.
So how do we feed our large family healthy meals on a budget? Here’s some of how we do it…..
*Start with a menu plan: Anyone who has already read my blog knows what a stickler I am for having a menu plan. For a family on a budget, planning your meals will help you stay on target financially and healthfully. When you place nutritious meals on your menu, and then shop accordingly, you save time and money…and, end up with a healthy meal.
*Join a fruit and veggie co-op: This may depend upon where you live, but if you have access to a veggie co-op, this is the way to go. I have found that incorporating organic fruits and veggies has been easier and more budget friendly through the co-op. Usually, you can get a huge basket or box full of in-season fruits and veggies for a fraction on the cost. You’re also helping to support your local farmers as well. (A small caveat: It is more difficult to plan a menu around a co-op. You don’t always know what you’ll get in your basket, so it’s hard to create a menu around it. How I handled this….I stuck with my normal menus and added what I could to my meals. I froze a lot of stuff, and gave away foods we wouldn’t use. I also had to be very creative with those uncommon-to-us veggies so they wouldn’t go to waste.)
*Buy what’s in season: If you don’t have access to a co-op, try to cater your menus around the seasons. You will always get the best deals on fruits and veggies when they are in season. Stock up on things that freeze well so that you save in off seasons.
*Shop those sales: Make a habit of checking store ads and stock up on meat and produce when they are on sale. At my local store, chicken goes on sale often, so I stock up my freezer. When red bell peppers go on sale, I buy tons and freeze what I can’t use fresh. When good apples and other fruits go on sale, that’s what the kids eat for their snacks, etc.
*Buy the cow: If you enjoy beef like we do, go in with with a few other families and buy a cow from a butcher. The price per pound is significantly cheaper, and you can determine the cuts of meat you’d like. If you can afford to do this on your own, and have a large deep freezer, you’ll be stocked forever! You also have the option of buying a half cow or just a quarter. It’s quite the experience! ; )
*If not the cow, go for the case: Buying meat by the case yields huge savings over the long run. We usually buy 80 lbs of very lean ground beef and split it with two other families. The price per pound is grossly less than buying a traditional sized package. Create your own little meat co-op and save big.
*Homemade is always best: If you’re prone to buying a lot of convenience type foods, invest more time in the kitchen and make fresh at home. Not only is this better for the budget, but better for YOU. Pre-packaged, convenience foods are packed with additives, preservatives, and things I can’t pronounce. (Just a note here…we do buy convenience foods on occasion, so don’t want to give a false impression. We just try not to buy them often.) If you want to eat healthy and cut back on the grocery budget, making food at home will probably make the biggest difference to the budget. Keep in mind, you’re paying extra for that convenience!
*Find coupons online that you can print out and bring to the store with you at coupons.answers.com.
Essential Nutrients Every Meal Should Include
Preparing meals with a good amount of essential nutrients is tough these days considering the time constraints from which we all suffer. There are several things to think about (quickly) as we rush to squeeze in a meal that is healthy and will provide us with sustenance and a feeling of satiety (without providing too many calories).
Macronutrients: Carbohydrate, Protein and Fat
What are the essentials of every meal? The basics are the 3 macronutrients:
Essential vitamins and minerals are in everything we consume; the trick is consuming the right things. Nutrients come in so many forms, so what’s key is making sure we consume the correct balance of them (and do not leave ourselves hungry and dissatisfied).
Scientifically speaking, most of our nutrients and calories should come from carbohydrates (45-65 percent of them), as they are the primary source of energy for all body functions. Almost all essential vitamins and minerals come from carbohydrates. Proteins should provide 10-35 percent of our calories, and while fats should be used sparingly, it is essential to consume healthy fats each day (nuts, olive oil, avocados, etc.).
Maximize Vitamins and Minerals With a Colorful Plate
So what are some good ways to ensure our meals contain essential nutrients and vitamins? Think in colors. The more colors on a plate, the better. Each meal, especially lunch and dinner, should contain an abundance of leafy green vegetables, whole grains and fruits. Those should be accompanied by a reasonable serving of lean protein (around 5-6 oz.), and a healthy, unsaturated fat like almonds, avocado or olive oil.
A good example of a meal containing many essential nutrients and vitamins would be the following:
- 5-6 oz of lean protein such as grilled chicken breast, turkey breast, lean beef or steak trimmed of fat, whitefish, legumes, tofu or salmon
- Romaine lettuce and spinach (vitamin A, iron, potassium) salad with tomatoes (vitamin C) and 1-2 tablespoons of low or nonfat salad dressing.
- ½ a yam (potassium, fiber, vitamin B1 ) with a tsp. of olive oil (no trans fat), or light butter made from non-hydrogenated oils
- Strawberries (vitamin C, antioxidants) with sugar free pudding (usually about 60 calories)
This is a nutritionally complete, filling and colorful meal. There are a million possible combinations, but there are a few key things to remember. Again, the more colors the better. Your colors should come from fruits and vegetables (not starches).
Snack Ideas: Pair Essential Vitamins With Protein
Snacks are easy to prepare as well, and every snack should always be accompanied by protein. The following are some nutrient-filled snacks that will keep you satisfied in between meals:
- Low fat string cheese with one serving of fruit (one apple, strawberries, 1 small banana, 1 whole peach, etc.)
- Hard boiled egg with handful of baby carrots or one serving of fruit
- ½ Cup cottage cheese or low fat yogurt with 12 raw almonds
- ½ cup tuna salad with light mayo and a handful of baby carrots
Also, it’s always good to start the day with a breakfast high in lean protein (ie., one whole egg + 3 egg whites). Simple carbohydrates like candy, sugars, soda, jellies and cakes and any and all fried foods should always be limited. The problem with these, and other starches like white breads and pasta, is that they are dense in calories and fat, low in nutrients, and they are not satisfying. The more of them we eat, the more we crave.
The best way to avoid the pitfalls of fried, sugary, starchy highs and lows is to plan meals and snacks, stick to the food pyramid and consume essential nutrients every time. There are no shortcuts.
3 Simple Ways To Start Living Healthy
Think of fruits and veggies as an entrée, not only a side dish
Eat a variety of fruits and veggies including dark-green, leafy green, red and orange veggies and beans and peas
Enjoy the food you eat, but eat less
Eat a large variety of foods
Avoid oversized portions
Make at least half your grains whole grains
Compare sodium levels in foods like soup, bread and frozen meals. Choose foods with lower sodium numbers
Consume less than 10% of your daily calories from saturated fats
Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk
Meal Planning Made Easy
If you don’t have the luxury of eating in a cafeteria with a variety of options each day, it makes sense to plan your meals ahead of time. Doing so will save you time and money. If saving money doesn’t entice you, consider this: eating at home can help you lose weight. A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found the average meal at 360 restaurant dinner meals examined contained 1,200 calories. If you choose to dine at an American, Italian or Chinese restaurant, that meal may cost you a whopping 1,495 calories. Don’t worry, I have no intention of having you replicate the instagram photos from fitness buffs who eat perfectly portioned bland-looking chicken, broccoli and brown rice twice a day, every day. Instead, I am an advocate for taste, variety, and better nutrition. Here are the 4 steps you should take to start planning better-for-you meals ahead of time:
1 – Take Inventory
Go through your cabinets, refrigerator and freezer at least once per month and throw out anything that is past it’s expiration date, freezer burned, molded, and stale or smells bad (smell your cooking oil too and if it doesn’t smell normal, toss it). Half-eaten anything that is more than a day old? Trash. This is also a great time to take inventory of what you have on hand.
2 – Stock Your Kitchen
After taking inventory, decide what you need (sticking to your grocery list will save you from impulse buys you don’t need after looking at your grocery store circular). Essential foods include shelf stable, refrigerator and frozen foods. I like the option of preparing a meal in 5 minutes or less. Frozen and canned items allow me to do this.
- Beans, lentils and legumes (tip: some lentils can be soaked for just 40 minutes and added to a wide variety of dishes from salads to spouse, stews and grain-based dishes)
- Canned vegetables, beans, fish and chicken
- Condiments including chicken, beef or vegetable broth, mustard, hot sauce and any other commonly used condiments
- Cooking oil – get good quality cooking oil. Pay more for a brand you trust. Olive oil is the most adulterated food on the market so you do get what you pay for.
- Nutrition bars
- Nuts, nut butters and seeds (all can be refrigerated; opened nut butters should be refrigerated)
- Popcorn, whole grain snacks
- Protein powder
- Rice, pasta, whole grains, cereals and other similar foods. Grab a few options that you can make in a just a few minutes including couscous. Also, vary your rice, pasta and whole grains – look for black, red or purple rice, bean pastas and more.
- Soups (boxed, bagged or in cans)
- Spices & seasonings (including salt and pepper). If you don’t use these regularly get dried spices or refrigerated spices in squeezable tubes.
- Ziploc bags – these will come in very handy if you travel (always pack food and supplements to go)!
- Dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese)
- Eggs (consider egg substitutes for their shelf life)
- Fresh vegetables and fruits
- Fish, poultry, meat
- Fish, poultry, meat
3 – Menu Planning
There are a number of ways you can approach menu planning but one of the easiest ways is to center your meals around the protein rich foods you plan on eating. So for instance, if you choose chicken, lean ground beef and fish, you can center 7 meals on those three proteins. Or, if your week is hectic and you are very busy, you can plan meals around protein-rich foods that take just minutes to prepare such as canned tuna, eggs and rotisserie chicken.
After you pick your protein rich foods, decide on recipes or quick prep meals. You might want to do this by determining what perishable foods you have on hand and need to use. So, let’s say you have mushrooms in the refrigerator and chicken defrosting. If you don’t feel like eating chicken Marsala but you aren’t sure what else you can make with a little flavor, type these words in Google to get other meal ideas “chicken, mushrooms, recipe, quick, easy.” (Also check out Cookinglight.com’s “5 Ingredient Cookbook, Fresh Food Fast”)
After determining which meals you are eating each day of the week, write a shopping list by figuring out any extras you may need to buy and what staple foods you are out of. Be flexible with your list depending on the season and sale prices. Shopping in season often means you will not only get the best looking produce but you will save money too. So for instance, if your recipe calls for sweet potatoes but butternut squash is a steal – go for the squash. When you make your shopping list, you can do it on an app, in the notes section on your phone, or the old fashioned way with pen and paper. I make mine in the order of the grocery store I am shopping in so I can cross items off one by one without having to scan the entire list to make sure I’m not forgetting something before I move onto the next section of the store.
If the weekly circular tempts you with sugary cereals, cookies and candies on sale, don’t pick it up. You won’t miss out on a bargain because you’ll figure out which healthy foods are on sale when you look for the items on your list – all stores flag these items for you.
Quick sample meal ideas:
- Rotisserie chicken, 10 minute brown rice (or thawed and microwave brown rice from your freezer), frozen veggies
- Rotisserie chicken wraps with hummus (spread the hummus on first) and any crunch veggies you desire (shopped carrots, cucumbers etc.)
- Whole-wheat pasta, spaghetti sauce and frozen turkey meatballs with added veggies such as cooked (or steamed) mushrooms, squash, zucchini
- Whole wheat pasta, canned tuna, light cream of mushroom soup (either made into a casserole and baked along with frozen peas, ½ cup milk and chopped onions at 400ºF for 20 minutes or you can heat up the soup and mix the ingredients together and eat it.
- Canned tuna, light mayo, chopped celery and onions for a tuna sandwich.
- Grilled salmon drizzled with lemon, asparagus and a sweet potato.
4 – Storing and Packing
You can freeze almost any food and reheat it easily. Even brown rice – just cook it, let it cool completely and portion it into zip-loc bags (make sure no air is in the bag) for later. Two important things to remember when freezing foods – freeze them in airtight containers and label them so you know what you made and when it was frozen. The longer you leave food in the freezer the greater the likelihood of texture and taste changes over time (sometimes resulting in freezer burn). Foods that freeze well include:
- Canned foods (once out of the can of course)
- Casseroles (keep in mind that mayonnaise and other cream sauces do not freeze well)
- Egg whites (raw)
- Grains, cooked
- Granola (homemade or store bought)
- Herbs, fresh
- Nuts, seeds (these should not be kept opened on shelves for long periods of time as they can go rancid)
- Cheese – some types freeze better than others
- Fish, poultry, meat (raw meat and poultry freezes better than cooked meat and poultry because of moisture lost during cooking).
- Fruit, though this must be completely dry and frozen in portions (unless you want it stuck together in big clumps). The texture may change so fresh fruit that is frozen may be best used when blended in shakes.
- Soups, stews, stock
- Yogurt – if you want to eat it frozen. If it defrosts the consistency isn’t so great.
Thaw food in the refrigerator, a microwave or immersed in cold water only (in a leak proof plastic bag submerged in the water that should be changed every 30 minutes), not out on countertops or in kitchen sinks.
Recommended Freezer Storage Time (for quality only, frozen food is safe indefinitely if left frozen).
|Bacon and Sausage||1 – 2|
|Casseroles||2 – 3|
|Egg whites or egg substitutes||12|
|Frozen dinners||3 – 4|
|Ham, hotdogs, lunchmeats||1 – 2|
|Meat, uncooked roasts||4 – 12|
|Meat, uncooked steaks or chops||4 – 12|
|Meat, uncooked ground||3 – 4|
|Meat, cooked||2 – 3|
|Poultry, uncooked whole||12|
|Poultry, uncooked parts||9|
|Soups and stews||2 – 3|
|Wild game, uncooked||8 – 12|
See, that wasn’t so tough! Get started planning, preparing and cooking right away. If there are a limited number of dishes you feel comfortable cooking, check out quick and easy cookbooks or resources on line. Each time you try a new recipe you’ll expand your horizons and taste buds and also be able to prepare a wider variety of meals on the fly in the future.
USDA. Freezing and Food Safety. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/focus_on_freezing/
10 Smart Tips for Eating Healthy on a Super Tight Budget
When you’ve got a tight budget, meal planning and grocery shopping has its challenges. And, when you have a tight budget and you’re dedicated to eating healthy, it’s even trickier.
We’ve talked about each of these topics quite a bit in the past, and every time you guys responded with so many great tips and suggestions. Here are 10 smart tips from our readers that make eating healthy on a tight budget feel easy!
1. Buy fresh produce when it’s in season and freeze it.
Fresh produce is always great, but the cost can add up fast. Stick with buying what’s currently in season, and consider stocking up when you find a good deal.
In the summer I will buy three or four dozen ears of corn when it is two ears for a dollar (or less). You can cut it from the ear and freeze it in bags, or freeze it whole (though the former takes up less freezer space). Then you have (really great tasting) corn for cheap for several months. Same goes with other vegetables. – doilyglove
2. Look for sales and plan meals accordingly.
If your local grocery store offers a savings card be sure to sign up, and check the weekly circular to see what’s on sale. Instead of shopping for groceries based on your weekly meal plan, consider planning your meals around what’s on sale.
If the store you usually shop at has a weekly circular my best piece of advice is to check it every week and plan your meals around what’s on sale. This has saved me so much money lately. It can also force you to get creative and maybe try some items or dishes you’ve never had. – kristen44
If you do not like prep I strongly recommend watching for sales on frozen vegetables. Here we sometimes get 10 for $10 sales on frozen vegetables, so I always stock up on onions, bell peppers, carrots, and peas. Makes it super easy to make something healthy. – Liz@LamentingLizzie
3. Try less expensive cuts of meat.
You can still enjoy meat, even when you’re on a tight budget. Look for less expensive cuts of meat, like chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts, and try different cooking methods, like the slow cooker, to make tougher cuts of meat tender and juicy.
If you’re a meat-eater, learn to love cheaper cuts! Bone-in, skin-on, tougher cuts of red meat, and organ meats are all dirt-cheap (and more nutritious and flavourful!) compared to, say, boneless skinless chicken breasts, even if you’re buying the organic/free-range stuff. Don’t be afraid of (good-quality) fat, especially if you’re trying to lose weight! – the enchantress
The Crock-pot does an amazing job of taking cheap cuts of meat (pork shoulder, chuck roast, etc) and making them tender and juicy. – Sarah_L.
Look for cheaper cuts such as lamb neck fillets, pork belly and cheeks, shin of beef, whole chickens that will yield enough for leftovers, plus a carcass for soup or congee, chicken livers, gizzard, etc. Perhaps borrow a book from the library that will show you the techniques for bringing out the best from these cuts. – pearmelon
4. Embrace whole grains and beans.
Beans and whole grains, like quinoa, freekeh and brown rice are an inexpensive and tasty way to bulk up meals, and can even be a meal in themselves.
I use black beans to stretch my meat. You can spend $15 and get the ingredients to make chili which will last for one person, 10 meals. I mix (cooked) black beans with ground turkey and make turkey burgers using that. – Christy Belville
Whole grains can really bulk up a meal and make it more filling and they’re generally on the cheaper side. Buy a package of wheat berries, whole wheat couscous, cook it up and freeze it in single portions to throw into salads or soups when you need them. The whole grains will also keep you full longer and may help aid in your weight loss efforts. – kristen44
5. Plan and prep meals ahead.
Whether it’s veggies for the week, tomorrow’s breakfast, lunches or dinners, prepping food in advance is a step in the right direction towards eating healthy. Plus, it’s also a good way to make sure you’re eating what’s in the fridge, to minimize waste.
I spend some time every weekend planning my meals for the week. I don’t mind eating leftovers so I plan on eating the same thing several times. I try to at least get my lunches prepped on Sunday so I’m starting the week off right. Then I might make something to eat on Monday night for dinner and eat that several times as well. – sweetautumn
I can cook two meals on Sunday night, package them up in portable containers and be set for lunch and dinner all week — with just one night of cooking. (This only works if you don’t mind eating the same thing every day – and I’ve learned it’s important to stick with what you like or outside temptations will be everywhere!!!) But it’s great to save time and money! – PropTart
6. Broaden your culinary horizons!
Cuisines, like Mexican and Indian, rely heavily on inexpensive ingredients, like beans and rice.
If you don’t like Indian or Mexican food, learn to. From my experience it’s the best value to flavor ratio. In both cuisines, rice is a staple, which is cheap. Both are not meat heavy, which is also cheap. Both also allow a lot of ingredients to be used interchangeably. Less waste which equals cheap. – Baxatax
If you like Mexican food, you could do burritos filled with anything you like. Or you can do a tortilla-less version of huevos rancheros that I often make for dinner. Very filling, loads of protein and fiber. – miabica
7. Keep an organized fridge and pantry.
Leftovers are always great, but it totally defeats the purpose if they get lost in the back of the fridge. Label leftovers and keep your fridge organized to help minimize food waste.
Waste of leftovers or frozen food can be minimized by keeping an orderly fridge/freezer and by labeling. I use a strip of masking tape and a Sharpie to identify food and date on the container. Package foods in amounts you will use, such as freezing chicken pieces by twos and hamburger in patties separately wrapped. Keeping a list of items in the fridge also sounds useful but I admit I’ve never been able to stick with that one. – janmarie
If you freeze stuff, make sure you periodically go through your freezer and eat everything in there. Sometimes I forget this step, but my wallet and my evening hours benefit when I use up all my frozen food! – becster.henrich
8. Repurpose leftovers.
If you don’t like eating the same meal over and over, consider repurposing leftovers into an entirely new and delicious meal.
Last night I made a garlicky spinach and white bean soup with leftovers from a rotisserie chicken. It made a really delicious soup that was simply lovely with toasted bread. – vintagejenta
Things that you can make into a sandwich later work well (poached chicken, meatballs, meatloaf, roast beef/pork/chicken). When whole chickens are on sale I buy two and cook them both. The first night is roast chicken and then I can make sandwiches, soup, pot pie, throw some in fried rice…you can really stretch a couple of chickens and make a lot of portable options.
Find the day when you can do some prep cooking and do a roast, then portion it out, make soup etc. to last you the rest of the week. – anotherjen
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Calculates your actual food budget
15 Money-Saving Ways to Outsmart Your Supermarket
Did you know listening to upbeat music while you grocery shop may help you spend less? Or that “10 for $10” promotions can sometimes cost you more? Reader’s Digest talked to supermarket employees, industry experts and grocery shopping gurus to put together an exhaustive list of the strategies supermarkets use to get shoppers to buy more, as well as some insider advice for shopping smarter. We went through the list and pulled out the 15 best tips for saving money at the grocery store.
1. Don’t feel the need to fill your shopping cart.
Shopping carts are getting larger because testing reveals that they encourage customers to buy more. Make a conscious effort to not fill an enormous cart, or grab a basket instead of a cart whenever possible.
2. Go beyond milk, bread, bananas and eggs when comparison shopping.
These four items are the ones customers most commonly rely on to compare prices between stores, but you’ll have an easier time identifying deals if you make a longer list of the items you purchase most and the price you usually pay. Keep it in your phone for easy reference while out shopping.
3. Start shopping in the middle of the store.
You typically find the produce section in the front of the store, where the “bright colors put you in a good mood and inspire you to buy more.” Stay on your game and stick to your budget by starting more in the middle, surrounded by the less vibrant boxed and canned food.
4. Don’t be afraid to ditch items at the last minute.
Supermarkets have started making checkout lanes more narrow to discourage the over 60 percent of shoppers who change their minds about an item while waiting in line. Personally, I think it’s more considerate to return the item where you found it or give it to an employee to return, but whatever you choose, don’t let the narrow confines of the checkout lane pressure you into buying something you don’t actually want.
5. Wear headphones and listen to upbeat music while you shop.
Stores intentionally play music with a slower beat to encourage shoppers to move more slowly through the aisles — and buy 29 percent more! Put on your favorite workout mix instead and you’ll automatically move at a brisker pace while shopping.
6. Buy cheese from the dairy case instead of the deli counter.
Stores often sell their deli cheeses in plainer packaging in the dairy case, for a lower price.
7. Ask store employees about complimentary add-ons.
“The butcher will tenderize meat for you, the baker will slice a loaf of bread, and the florist will usually give you free greenery to go with your loose flowers,” says one supermarket expert. So don’t be afraid to ask!
8. Buy baked items when they are on sale and pick them up later for a future event.
Some stores will let you buy bakery items up to a month in advance, so if you see a sale, you can pay the lower price and bring in your receipt later to pick up the baked goods closer to your event. Ask at the bakery counter to find out if they allow this.
9. Ask about discounts on bakery or meat items that are about to expire.
Employees may agree to mark down prices on items that are expiring the next day — just ask!
10. Double-check the details of a sale price.
Often a sale will apply to a certain size package, but the store will advertise the discount between the sale-price item and a different-sized, non-sale-price item.
Grocery Shopping While Hungry Not Good Idea, Science Confirms
My Health News Daily
If you’ve ever gone grocery shopping while you’re hungry, you know the task can be a challenge: Everything looks good.
Now new research confirms that grocery shopping when your stomach is rumbling is probably not a good idea.
To hungry shoppers, high-calorie foods may be more tempting than usual, the researchers said.
In the study, researchers asked 68 people to come to their lab and to avoid eating for five hours before they came. Upon arrival, half of the participants were told they could eat as many wheat crackers as they wanted, while the other half were not given any food.
Both groups of participants were then asked to grocery shop in an online store that offered high-calorie foods, such as candy, salty snacks and red meat, as well as low-calorie foods, such as fruits, vegetable and chicken breasts.
Participants who were hungry purchased more high-calorie products, the researchers found. On average, hungry people purchased 5.7 high-calorie products, while the group that ate before shopping bought 3.9 high-calorie products.
In a second experiment, the researchers, led by Brian Wansink, director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University, analyzed purchases of 82 people in a real-world grocery store. They compared the purchases of those who went shopping between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. (an “after lunch” period when people are less likely to be hungry) to those who went shopping between 4 and 7 p.m. (when people are more likely to be hungry).
Those who shopped between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. bought fewer low-calorie products compared with those who shopped between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. (buying eight products versus 11 products).
“Even short-term food deprivation can lead to a shift in choices such that people choose less low-calorie, and relatively more high-calorie, food options,” the researchers wrote in the May 6 issue of the Journal for the American Medical Association.
The findings suggest “people should be more careful about their choices when food-deprived and possibly avoid choice situations when hungry by making choices while in less hungry states,” the researchers said.
Pass it on: Grocery shopping while hungry may lead to unhealthy food choices.
This story was provided by MyHealthNewsDaily
The Benefits of Meal Planning
Meal planning is a vital part of eating a healthy diet and there are many benefits of meal planning. If you are new to the Wellness Lifestyle, I’d highly encourage you to take half an hour a week to meal plan healthy meals for your family that week. There are many benefits of meal planning, including:
1. Save Money
There are many times that money has been tight for us and I’ve had to stretch our food budget. One year, my husband lost/had to quit his job a month before the birth of our third child. That birth ended up being an (expensive) emergency c-section to save my life and my son’s life. Our son also had a stay in the NICU, which we found out costs more per day that we’d ever paid for a vacation. Needless to say, money was tight for a while as we worked to find a job and pay off bills. At the same time, I was recovering from surgery and blood loss and eventually, he was eating solid foods but we both needed to focus on really nourishing foods. Even during this time, our family ate a real food diet that we managed to afford by very careful budgeting and meal planning.
2. Eat Healthy
Consuming a nutrient dense real-food diet is vital for so many aspects of health, but it also takes some advance planning. Meal Planning lets you decide before you ever go to the grocery store what healthy meals your family is going to eat during a given week so that you can only purchase healthy foods and know that you will use them. If you’re switching to a healthier diet, meal planning is especially important to help you stick to it while you learn the ropes.
3. Don’t Waste Food
One of my biggest pet peeves is finding a container of food in the back of the fridge and realizing that the contents resemble a science experiment more than they do food. We focus on a healthy real-food lifestyle and part of that is being a good steward of the resources we have. With meal planning, I know how we are going to use all of the food for that week before I even go to the store to buy it. I have a weekly game plan that even takes leftovers in to account so that food is rarely wasted.
4. Less Stress
Stress is bad. I realized that a major source of stress for me was realizing at 4pm that the kids would be hungry soon and that nothing was planned or defrosted for dinner. Just the general “what am I going to cook tonight” that was always in the back of my mind was taking up mental energy that I needed to use in better ways (like parenting five children). Just as with anything, having a written plan takes the uncertainty and stress out of the situation and I was surprised how much it reduced my stress just to have a plan and know what and when I would be cooking. As I’ve written about before, I have a template to make this process even easier:
Rather than starting from scratch each week, I have a template of the general types of foods I cook each day of the week and the number of times I use each main food. In other words each week I cook: -1-2 stir frys -1 salad -1 slow cooker or soup meal -1 fish/seafood meal -1-2 meals from a different cuisine from around the world -1-2 prepare ahead oven meals
5. Save Time
Another great benefit of meal planning is the time it saves. Planning ahead allows me to cook things in bulk and freeze for a future meal or make extra of a protein to use in a quick meal later in the week. In the winter, I cook a lot of slow-cooker meals and pre-make many of these to keep in the freezer so that I can just stick one in the crock-pot and go in the morning on busy days.
6. Add Variety
It may seem that meal planning is rigid and boring, but statistically, families are more likely to eat the same meals over and over if they don’t meal plan. Meal planning allows you to ensure variety and avoid falling in to the trap of eating the same five meals over and over. As I talked about before, it is also easy use spices to mix up a recipe and make it unique:
“A basic easy recipe (like Chicken Squash Stir Fry or Pakistani Kima) can taste completely different just by changing the spices. Add some cumin and chili powder and you have a Mexican flavor, or some Curry for an Indian type flavor. Basil, Thyme, Oregano and Garlic give an Italian Flavor while Chinese 5 Spice gives an Asian Flair. I buy all my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs in bulk since it saves money and I’ve found that they have extremely high quality herbs and spices.” You can also check out these ten money saving tips to eat healthy on a budget.
Meal Planning Done for You?
While meal planning doesn’t have to be hard, it can be time consuming. With hundreds of fast, easy (and very unhealthy!) options available at each meal, it takes a valiant effort and a lot of planning to provide your family with nutritious meals.
That’s why I’ve decided to make my own personal meal planning system available to everyone. It’s called Wellness Mama Meals and it’s the tool I wish I’d had years ago when I first started my family.
Meal planning saves you hours of time and gives you a simple way to generate healthy, delicious meal plans and shopping lists in just minutes. At the heart of this easy-to-use system is an exclusive, new and improved Meal Plan Generator.
The Best and Worst Times to Go Grocery Shopping
Information from Wisebread.com
We’ve all experienced this: You need two or three items for dinner tonight, so you make a quick run to the grocery store — only to walk out 40 minutes later with 10 items you hadn’t planned on buying. What happened in that “quick” trip to the store? (See also: 25 Things You Shouldn’t Buy at the Grocery Store)
It turns out there are good and bad times to go grocery shopping, and your favorite store knows this. In fact, they are counting on you to make mistakes during your trip that will earn them more in profits. Grocery stores know how people shop and spend, so why not plan to be successful yourself? Picking the right time to go shopping, preparing yourself before you go, and keeping yourself focused while you are there are all keys to avoiding purchasing budget (and diet) busters.
Go at the Start of Your Store’s “Sales Week”
The Internet is full of advice for the best day of the week to go grocery shopping. Most will tell you it is Wednesday, because stores start their sales for the next seven days on Wednesdays and some still honor the previous week’s sales. Your mileage will vary, however. Many stores in my area, for example, start their sales on either Sunday or Monday, and they never have a day when both the previous week’s and the upcoming week’s sales are good.
Your best option is to find out when your store starts running their sales and shop as close to that as possible for any deals that you want to snag. Don’t forget: If you can’t find an item on the shelf and it is on sale, get a raincheck at the customer service desk to ensure that you get that sale price when the item is in stock.
Ask Department Managers for Details
One good way to take advantage of store scheduling is to check in with the managers of each grocery department to find out what time and day they bring out merchandise to be clearanced out. The meat manager, for example, should be able to tell you that he marks down meat with a nearing expiration date on Tuesdays at 9 a.m. By shopping close to these times, you can get much of your grocery list accomplished at a fraction of retail pricing.
Go When Bins Are Freshly Stocked
To make sure your store isn’t out of what you want, the best time of day to shop is mid-morning to early afternoon. Many stores stock their fresh produce during this time (non-perishables are usually stocked in the evenings when people are not walking through the aisles). This is a great time to find the freshest produce (and in my case, sometimes the only time to find coveted items like organic strawberries which always disappear fast in my town).
The same principle can be applied to fresh meat and seafood departments, too.
Go Weeknight Evenings After Dinner
After dinner, say between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., most people settle in for the evening, and few have the energy to tackle a big trip to the grocery store. The shelves and bins won’t be quite as full as a weekday visit, but you’ll have the store almost to yourself. Another advantage of going after dinner is that you won’t go in hungry (see below), which often results in impulse spending.
Don’t Go During “Rush Hour”
Grocery stores are busiest right after most people get off work. The aisles are packed, the lines are longer, and the frustrations can be plenty.
Weekend Afternoons Are the Worst
Even busier than weeknights right after work are weekends at the grocery store. Aisles are crowded and shelves are empty. I have noticed that Sundays around noon are the absolute worst time to go shopping in my town. It appears that a lot of people head to the store after their church service, and I have been known to turn around and go home if I realize what I’ve done by arriving at that time.
Weekends are also the time when those wonderful people — product demonstrators — are most likely to be around, offering tasty samples of foods and treats you don’t need. Suddenly, you’ve added crackers and dips, pretzel bread, and cookies to your cart because some lovely person offered you a free taste and a cents off coupon.
Meal Time movement
Mealtime means taking a moment to enjoy food with humans you care about. And it makes a big difference in how we live and grow. Interesting information on this website.
They have some interesting recipes on this site and the main theme to reserve mealtime for family time.
Brown Rice with Sautéed Spinach, Lemon and Garlic
- 1 cup quick-cooking brown or white rice
- 3 tablespoons Crisco® Pure Olive Oil
- 2 cups packed fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- COOK rice according to package directions.
- HEAT oil in large skillet. Add cooked rice, spinach, walnuts, lemon peel, garlic, rosemary and salt. Sauté 2 to 3 minutes or until spinach is wilted. Serve warm.
By “Stress Free Kids”
6 Smart Snacks for Kids
Note to Reader: Adults often steer kids towards processed, fried food assuming they won’t eat vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. I have surprised many a friend when I tell them their children enjoyed avocado, hummus, and quinoa at my house. Marie Oser’s article helps us expand our thinking into the realm of healthy snacks for kids. Thanks Marie!
Source website: https://stressfreekids.com/6550/6-smart-snacks-kids
By Marie Oser, Managing Editor ecomii.com – To learn more about Lori Lite’s Stress Free Kids go to the link above.
Kids need a lot of energy to keep going. As soon as the weekend arrives they are on the go, riding their bikes, playing sports or off to the park to meet friends. Weekday schedules are out the window and it can be a challenge to make sure they are eating as well as they should.
It’s a good idea to stock up on small portable foods that pack a lot of nutrition. Kids, teens and ‘tweens all tend to eat lots of small meals throughout the day and it’s a good idea to keep wholesome snacks on hand. Whole grain waffles, pretzels, bread sticks, tortillas and pita pockets, hummus, granola and trail mix are convenient foods for a quick pick-me-up that are healthful and satisfying.
Any snack a child makes is a snack that child is likely to eat, and younger children will especially enjoy being involved in choosing and preparing simple snacks. Having fresh and dried fruit, popcorn, nuts, nut butters and a variety of raw veggies on hand can make quick and healthy snacking a breeze.
Here are six snack ideas that are healthful and economical. For healthy kids and a healthy planet, be sure to choose organic foods with little or no packaging.
Smart Snack Ideas:
- Fruit kabobs are easy and fun. Chunks of fruit, such as apples, peaches, pineapples, bananas, grapes and strawberries are tasty and colorful. Little ones will appreciate most any fruit threaded onto wooden skewers.
- Spread almond or peanut butter on thick slices of apples, pears and nectarines. Cut fresh, crisp celery stalks into 3-inch pieces, fill with nut butter and sprinkle with fresh blueberries or raisins.
- Smoothies are super easy to make and a great way to get a chilled beverage packed with sweet fruit, vitamins and minerals into your kids on hot summer day. Combine a handful of frozen strawberries, medium banana and a cup of fortified orange juice, soy, almond or rice milk in a blender and buzz for a minute.
- Combine whole grain, ready to eat cereal and granola with dried fruit and nuts in a zipper-top sandwich bag for a tasty high-energy snack to go.
- Carrot wraps are easy to make in advance. Spread a whole grain tortilla with hummus, top with carrot sticks, sliced avocado and baby spinach. Roll up, slice in half and wrap each half tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Kids love dips. Hummus and guacamole in many styles are pretty convenient and widely available, but you can mash a ripe avocado with a dollop of your favorite salsa, too. It doesn’t get much easier (or fresher) than that.
Just love this site by Betty Crocker
30 Easy Dinners Kids Will Devour
For more recipes goto the link below.
Keep your picky eaters happy all summer long by serving any one of these simple, kid-friendly meals.
1 can Pillsbury™ refrigerated crusty French loaf
1 cup pizza sauce, Old El Paso™ Thick ‘n Chunky salsa, or tomato sauce (your preference)
1 tablespoon Old El Paso™ taco seasoning mix (from 1-oz package)
3/4cup shredded baked or deli-rotisserie chicken
3/4cup shredded Mexican or southwest cheese blend
Additional toppings such as diced green onions, diced ripe olives or diced tomatoes, if desired
- 1 Bake 1 can Pillsbury™ refrigerated crusty French loaf as directed on can for 26 minutes.
- 2 Increase oven temperature to 450°F.
- 3 Cut baked loaf in half lengthwise; cut each piece in half crosswise. Place pieces cut side up on ungreased cookie sheet.
- 4 Spread 1 cup pizza sauce, Old El Paso™ salsa or tomato sauce on pieces of bread. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon Old El Paso™ taco seasoning mix evenly over sauce. Divide 3/4 cup shredded baked or deli-rotisserie chicken and 3/4 cup shredded Mexican or southwest cheese blend evenly onto pieces of bread. Sprinkle with desired additional toppings.
- 5 Bake 10 to 13 minutes or until cheese is melted, bread is golden brown, and toppings are hot.
- 6 Remove from oven. Cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving
Lemon roast chicken with chorizo stuffing
About BBC Good Food
We’re all about good recipes, and about quality home cooking that everyone can enjoy. Whether you’re looking for some healthy inspiration or learning how to cook a decadent dessert, we’ve trustworthy guidance for all your food needs. For full recipe go to bbcgoodfood.com
How to Meal Plan for Your Family
There are many benefits to meal planning for your family, including healthy eating. By learning how to plan weekly meals and eating meals at home, you can control your portions and avoid eating hidden calories. In addition, family meals eaten at home tend to be less expensive and higher in nutrients.
Planning healthy, balanced family meals for the week can be a time saver for even the busiest people. By shopping for your meals once a week, you can save time, money and gas by making fewer trips to the grocery store or drive-thru. Taking some time to learn how to plan balanced meals for your family will save you time—and help you eat better—in the long run.
For more information and meal planning go to http://www.healthyeating.org
Chickpea Summer Snack for the Kiddos!
15-ounce can organic garbanzo beans | 1/2 tablespoon olive oil | 1 tablespoon honey | 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon | 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Drain and rinse the chickpeas in a colander. Place them on a towel to dry off.
- Spread chickpeas on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until crispy. Test one, and if it’s still soft, bake for longer.
- While the chickpeas are still hot, toss them in a bowl with the oil, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Enjoy as is, or for a caramelized effect, place them back in the oven for another 10 minutes or so.
- Store leftover chickpeas in an airtight container.
Source: Nutritional Facts and Recipe found @ http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Roasted-Honey-Cinnamon-Chickpeas-27908653?campaign=sugar_social_button_m