Healthy Eating at Home: Simple as 1, 2, 3!
Healthy eating by cooking for the family can be a blessing or a curse. Sometimes it is a chance to be creative, while other times it's a chore squashed between homework and after-school activities. Despite the occasional stress, it’s important to me to offer meals at home rather than eating out. It not only costs less, but is also healthier option for my family. To give myself a “kitchen vacation” I make easy meals that taste great but still give me time to recharge. Eating a balanced meal can be simple--as simple as following these 3 steps.
Step 1: Include all five food groups in your family meals
Overwhelmed at the idea of healthy eating by fitting foods from every group on your plate? Start with a list of the foods you enjoy and in which food groups they belong.
Step 2: Stock up on food and food groups your family enjoys
Your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer should be filled with those food-group foods your family loves. Purchase new ingredients to fill in missing food groups so they are always available. A well-stocked kitchen makes healthy eating easier. Here are some great Shopping Lists ready for you to print for your next grocery trip.
Step 3: Know your family's "one-pot" recipes
Save time by listing your family’s favorite recipes that combine foods from several food groups. Healthy eating doesn't have to be complicated. Add simple side dishes to round out the meal. Need fruit? Serve slices of oranges or pears. Need milk? Pour a glass of milk or melt cheese over vegetables.
Here is a dish that has four food groups in one pot, Lickety Split Lasagna Soup. You can prepare it in about 30 minutes or put it in the slow cooker. Either way, this recipe tastes great and is much faster than assembling a pan of lasagna.
Lickety Split Lasagna Soup
Makes 6 to 8 servings
1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 (14½ ounces) cans diced tomatoes
1 (15 ounces ) can tomato sauce
1 (14½ ounces) can beef broth
1½ cups water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups mini lasagna noodles or rotini pasta
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1½ cups finely shredded mozzarella cheese
Brown ground beef in dutch oven or stockpot; drain. Add onions, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Stir in beef broth, water, brown sugar, and four spices listed. Bring to a boil and add mini lasagna noodles or pasta. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Garnish each bowl with mozzarella cheese.
Cook’s Note: Reduce the sodium in this dish with any or all of these options: use reduced-sodium beef broth, choose reduced-sodium tomato sauce and/or reduce or omit the teaspoon of added salt.
Nutrient Information: Calories: 301, Total Fat: 13 g, Saturated Fat: 6 g, Sodium: 1000 mg, Carbohydrates: 26 g, Protein: 22 g, Fiber: 3 g, Vitamin C: 28 mg, Calcium: 221 mg, Iron: 3 mg
Find more healthy eating one-pot dishes for more dinner inspiration.
What are some of your favorite one-pot meals?
Trina Robertson, MS, RD is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition. As a HealthyEating.org Mom she shares her positive approach to healthy eating with the goal of inspiring others to prepare and enjoy foods from each of the food groups. As a Project Manager with the Dairy Council of California, Trina develops, evaluates, and promotes nutrition education materials for students and adults. At home she enjoys cooking and sharing meals with her family. Her most rewarding accomplishment is that her boys are good eaters and are learning to cook. Follow Trina on Twitter @TrinaR_RD and find more Healthy Eating ideas on Facebook.
Feature image from Flickr
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