For families with school-age children, September is a month of new beginnings. It’s about adjusting to the school schedule, embracing new activities, and for us parents, providing wholesome meals and snacks to fuel our family. Of course, that’s all easy to picture, but generally not so simple to do. As parents, we have the best intentions and know that nutritious family meals are a must, not an option. That said, we can and should use strategies that make it easier and less time consuming. Here are a few “must have” tips:
Always Cook for More Than One Meal at a Time
Today’s late summer meal of grilled chicken, corn, and veggies is tomorrow’s Mexican-inspired rice bowl that comes together when you add a microwave rice pouch and scoop of salsa. Making two lasagnas at once when you have the time isn’t too hard, and when you freeze one for a future meal on a busy day you’ll be thanking yourself.
Make Tomorrow’s Lunch While Cooking Dinner
While the food is out for dinner, think about school lunch, too. For example, while you’re chopping up veggies, make your kids (or yourself!) a salad, then add a bit of protein from dinner and lunch is made. If part of tonight’s dinner is tomorrow’s lunch than put it aside before dinner is served to ensure that you have some left over.
Take Advantage of Healthful Convenience Items
Yes, they do exist! Microwave grain pouches, steam-in-bag vegetables, better-for-you simmer sauces, and well-trimmed meats are some of the items you’ll find in today’s market. Read labels carefully and take advantage of the items that make your “half scratch” meal come together in minutes.
Start With a Protein and a “Base”
Begin by deciding on a protein for your meal like skinless chicken, eggs, shrimp, lean beef or tofu and then decide on a “base” for your meal. This can be shredded lettuce, brown rice, a whole grain tortilla, or whole grain pasta. Once you know these two parts of your meal you’ll be able to easily figure out the rest. I have written several blog posts on this topic. I recommend visiting GuidingStars.com to check them out and to learn more about the Guiding Stars Nutrition Guidance program found at Hannaford Supermarket.
As your local Hannaford Dietitian, I’m pleased to be sharing my advice and simple tips. Please visit www.hannaford.com/dietitians for my in-store schedule of classes, demonstrations, and store tours or call (845) 855-0553 for more information.
Pass on the take-out and bring the flavors of an egg roll to your table in about 30 minutes. This is a family favorite in my home: I skip the pork, make it with 1 lb. of 93% lean ground turkey, and tend to embellish other ingredients so that we have leftovers for a quick dinner the next day (and that’s perfectly portable to bring to an activity if needed).
Egg Roll Bowls (2 Guiding Stars)
½ lb. 90% lean ground pork
½ lb. 93% lean ground turkey
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 head cabbage, shredded
4 carrots, shredded
5 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. ginger
2 cups cooked brown rice
4 green onions, sliced
In a large, deep skillet, brown meat over medium heat until cooked through (6 – 8 minutes).
Add veggies to the skillet and stir to combine.
Whisk together soy sauce and ginger and add to the skillet. Cook until cabbage is wilted, but still crunchy (5 – 6 minutes).
Serve over brown rice, topped with sliced green onion.