October 3, 2023

6 tips for healthy back-to-school meal prep

Courtesy-American Heart Assoc.-Indy FB page

INDIANAPOLIS – As summer slowly fades away, many Hoosier families are looking for ways to navigate the chaos that comes with afterschool activities and managing schedules and routines. But with the right plan in place, eating healthy can be easy and fun for the whole family! 

The American Heart Association recommends healthy children follow a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy sources of protein.  Each meal should include at least 1 fruit or vegetable and should include foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.  

Here are 6 ways to make healthy family meal prep easy: 

  1. Use the weekend to plan your meals

Every good idea starts with a plan. Use the weekend to plan your meals and get input from your kids on what recipes they might like to eat that week. Letting your kids be a part of the planning process can empower them to make healthy choices on their own.  You can find an array of healthy recipes on heart.org.

  1. Organize your shopping list

After you create your meal plan, organize your shopping list based on categories. For example, produce, aisle, dairy, and meat. This makes shopping easier when trying to find items for new recipes. 

  1. Double the recipe

There can be a lot of prep work involved in some recipes, so make it count. Making twice as much doesn’t usually take twice the time. Make a double batch and save one for another meal, especially if it’s a family favorite.

  1. Make friends with your freezer

Many foods freeze well — think soups, stews, chili — and make an easy meal on busy nights. Store in single-meal quantities (say, four servings) in an air-tight container. Make sure it’s cooled thoroughly in the fridge before putting it in the freezer. When you’re ready to serve, simply reheat and enjoy a healthy homemade meal.

  1. Prep your veggies as soon as you get home from the grocery store

Slicing and dicing veggies can be a daunting task after a long day of work and school activities. Prepping your veggies in advanced can help cut down total cook time during the week. 

  1. Put your plan on display

Place your weekly meal plan on your refrigerator or somewhere visible. This will help remind you of any items that need to be thawed in the morning and helps eliminate the ever so popular “what’s for dinner” question.