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Aug 24, 2011

Time Savers for Healthy Family Eating

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Sure, you want to help your family to eat healthy. So what’s stopping you? If you think it takes too much time to shop and prepare nutritious meals, you have plenty of company. Many people aren’t doing more to eat healthy because they think it takes too much time, according to a survey conducted by the American Dietetic Association.

But there’s good news … the road to healthy eating is paved with shortcuts. Try these timesaving tactics to help you feed your family well–and with great taste, too:

Make simple switches at the supermarket. It doesn’t take extra time to buy products such as whole grain cereal, fat-free milk, lean ground beef, baked chips, whole wheat bread or reduced-fat cheese. Ditto for high-nutrition snacks such as yogurt, raisins, frozen fruit juice bars, hummus (chickpea dip) and whole-wheat pita bread.

Poke the produce. There’s a washed, cut and ready-to-eat fruit and veggie ready for every taste bud. Think about bagged lettuce and spinach, baby carrots, cut-up broccoli and cauliflower, cubed cantaloupe and pineapple. Of course, favorites such as apples, pears, oranges, bananas and grapes are fast fruit, too. For a switch, try new varieties–you often can try a sample right in the produce department.

Swing by the salad bar. Sure you can use it to quickly assemble a salad. But think outside the bar! Save prep steps by picking up ready-to-go
ingredients for tonight’s recipe. Try sliced onions, celery and carrots to start a soup or stew, or chopped lettuce, tomato and shredded cheese for
taco-toppers. While you’re at it, pick up some fruit salad for dessert.

Pad your pantry. Don’t get caught short. Stock up on often-used quick meal fixings such as canned beans and tuna, various pasta shapes, jars of spaghetti sauce and quick-cooking brown rice. Stash away some canned or frozen fruits and veggies, too. They’re always there when you need them and just as nutritious as fresh ones because they’re packed at the peak of freshness.

Make it big on the weekend. Block out a few hours to make a big batch of chili, a hearty soup, a pasta dish or a casserole. When schedules heat up during the week, you and your family can just zap-and-eat.

Use time-saving cooking techniques. Bake chicken instead of frying, or let a pot of bean soup bubble away on the back burner. Meanwhile, you can prepare the rest of the meal, get caught up on some household chores or just kick back and relax for a few minutes.

Slip good nutrition into fast favorites. Make instant oatmeal with milk instead of water. Load sandwiches up with lettuce and tomato. Toss frozen mixed vegetables into canned soup. Top your favorite frozen cheese pizza with a rainbow of veggies like broccoli florets, chopped red peppers or sliced zucchini. (Tip: Toss veggies in a little vegetable oil first so they don’t dry out.)

Demand double duty from big restaurant portions. Bring some home to make a quick start on tomorrow’s meal. For instance, slice up steak from your doggie bag to star in tonight’s beef and broccoli stir-fry.

Want kid-friendly tips for fitting fast foods into a balanced diet? Check out:

Fitting in Fast Food Favorites