It’s Food, Fast — But Not Fast Food

June 8, 2018

At the end of a long day, coming up with a recipe, stopping at the market and making a meal can be more than you can manage.

Instead, plan ahead for what you want to cook and need to buy. The time you spend on planning will save you prep time and shopping time later. Sensible planning can also keep you from splurging on high-calorie, costly takeout or restaurant meals.

“Find a system that works for you, whether it’s posting your menu and grocery list on your refrigerator or entering it into your laptop,” suggests Denise Rubin, RD, of Jersey Shore University Medical Center. Weekends are a good time to sketch out your plan and do your shopping, but that depends on your schedule. “Your meal plan for a typical week should include three or four recipes, an ingredient list for those recipes and creative ways to use leftovers so you don’t have to cook from scratch every night,” Rubin says.

KEEP IT HEALTHY

These tips can help you prepare healthy, low-fat meals:

  • Keep fresh and frozen vegetables on hand. A supply of salad greens, tomatoes, green onions and carrots makes it easy to whip up a salad. You can make frozen broccoli, spinach or other veggies quickly in the microwave and top them with lemon juice and Parmesan cheese for a side dish.
  • Stock your pantry with healthy ingredients so that you can create nourishing dishes with little fuss. Include brown rice, whole wheat pasta, tuna packed in water, kidney and black beans, cans of green chilies and diced tomatoes, prepared pasta sauces, olive oil, flavored vinegars and your favorite spices.
  • Use your grill. Outdoor barbecues and indoor electric grills cook foods quickly and with less fat than pan frying or sautéing.
  • Watch portion sizes. If you serve healthy foods in unhealthy portions, you won’t be able to reach or maintain a healthy weight.
  • Make meatless meals, which are healthier and less expensive. You can also reduce meat costs by using less meat or substituting beans for part of the meat in casseroles, soups or stews.

MAKE IT FAST

When time is of the essence, keep these tips in mind:

  • Look for recipes with few ingredients. Less measuring, slicing and dicing makes dinner come together faster.
  • Use your food processor. These machines are great for chopping vegetables and blending sauces.
  • Master quick-cooking techniques. Stir-frying and microwaving take less time than stewing, for example.
  • Double your recipes and freeze them in meal-sized containers. Soups, stews, casseroles and grilled meats freeze beautifully.

Join our registered dietitians and learn some grilling tips for easy, breezy summer meals! Cooking demos and samples will be provided. Register by calling 1-800-560-9990, or visit HackensackMeridianHealth.org/Events.