We are back with another post from our Ask a Nutritionist series featuring the Wel Nourished team! School’s out for the summer and many families are looking for healthy summer snacks the kids can enjoy at home and quick meals for busy parents. Look no further, the nutritionists at Wel have you covered!
What are some tips for meal prepping on a budget?
We are all in luck, meal prepping on a budget is possible! This is because buying healthy food on a budget is possible, too. Typically, when meals are planned and prepped, they are cheaper. People tend to spend less money at the grocery store when they have a plan versus buying random food that may or may not make it into a meal.
Here are some tips:
- Shop at discounted grocery stores. Just because they are discounted, doesn’t mean they aren’t good and healthy. You can find a plethora of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, meat, and dairy at discounted prices in these stores.
- Buy in bulk. Hello Costco! Buy food items that aren’t perishable in bulk and keep them on hand in the pantry. Typically bulk items are cheaper per unit price. Buy bulk meat and freeze it for later.
- Get creative with your recipes. Find unique ways to eat cheaper food items. If you find beans in bulk, use them in burritos, 7-layer dip, nachos, taco salads, etc. Get creative!
- Use coupons and weekly specials. Those ads you get in your mailbox and throw away? Use them to your advantage. Find discounts and coupons in there and get cheaper food in return.
How can I make meal-prepping work for my busy lifestyle?
Meal prepping is perfect for anyone with a busy lifestyle. It’ll actually create a lot of freedom for you during your busy work week when it comes to making decisions about food. The fewer decisions you have to make about food, the healthier you will eat. If we are busy during the day without a meal plan or food prepped, it’ll be easier for us to make a run for the drive-through.
Here are some tips:
- Plan ahead. Plan a time, even if it’s just an hour, when you can prepare meals. It can be on the weekend or even during the week. Find what works for your lifestyle and make it happen.
- Set aside time to cook. You will have to make cooking a priority at some point. Add it to the calendar and other things won’t get in the way.
- Cook in batches, and freeze. Make casseroles and cook large portions of meat. Keep them in the fridge or freezer for the next time you’ll need to grab a meal!
- Get organized. If you want to succeed at anything, getting organized will help make the process easier. Buy a notepad to make a grocery list. Make a Pinterest board of your favorite meal prep recipes. Buy a calendar and add your meal-prepping time to it. You’ve got this!
How can I meal prep for the week ahead?
Here are some tips:
- Start small. If this is your first time meal prepping. Start small. Find 1-3 recipes you’d like to prepare and go for it. Find recipes you’ve made before or ones that you know you love to make the process easier and more rewarding. We were never meant to go from 0 to 100. Start small and work your way up!
- Choose healthy and balanced meal options. When looking for meals to make, find meals that are healthy and balanced. These will keep you full and satisfied throughout your work week and will also give you sustainable energy. Once these meal options are found, make a grocery list and head to the store. Do your best to buy what you’ve put on the list. If you’re not sure what a healthy meal looks like, talk to a Dietitian at Wel!
- Make your plan fit your lifestyle. If you are busy, find meals that are simple to make and can be reheated. Meal planning will only work if it fits your current lifestyle.
- Be flexible. Things may not always go according to plan. That’s ok! Being flexible means you’ll have more meal-planning success. You may give up if you aren’t. You will learn as you go.
What are some tips for making healthy snacks and meals that are kid-friendly?
As a pediatric dietitian, I love making healthy snacks and meals that are kid friendly! It’s never too early to start introducing your children to a variety of different fruits and vegetables. When we introduce healthy foods to our kiddos at a young age we are setting them up for a healthy future! Here are a few kid-friendly snacks and meals that are sure to add variety and color to your children’s diet.
- Apples and Peanut Butter Sandwiches
- Cut apples into thin slices and serve peanut butter between two apple slices for a fun spin on apples and peanut butter!
- Greek yogurt and berries
- Try plain or vanilla Greek yogurt with fresh berries or seasonal fruits. Top with granola for an extra crunch!
- Avocado Toast
- Pair your child’s favorite bread with a few slices of avocado. Add a few slices of tomato for extra color!
- Cucumber Stars
- Slice cucumbers and use cookie cutters to create fun shapes. Serve with yogurt dip or cream cheese for extra protein!
- Turkey Burgers
- These are great alternatives to the classic hamburger and give you an opportunity to pack in some extra veggies for toppings!
- Veggie Flatbreads
- You can find a premade flatbread crust at the grocery store, add marinara sauce, cheese, and all your favorite veggie toppings!
- Don’t be afraid to sneak in some zucchini with your meat and sauce. It’s an easy and yummy way to add extra veggies
- Tacos, no matter how you serve them, can be another opportunity to provide fruits and veggies. Top with the classics like pico de gallo and cabbage or mix it up by adding a pineapple salsa!
What are some easy and delicious summer meals?
Two of my favorite easy and delicious summer meals are my peach salsa and strawberry feta salad!
- 6 peaches, peeled and diced
- 1 red onion, diced
- 5-6 limes, juiced
- 2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
- 1 bunch of cilantro, coarse chop
- salt and pepper to taste
- serve with your favorite tortilla chips or pita chips!
Berry Feta Salad:
- 2 cups mixed greens
- 1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
- ½ cup blueberries
- ½ cup raspberries
- ¼ cup feta cheese crumbles
- slivered almonds, a small sprinkle
- top with your favorite balsamic dressing or for a quick vinegarette mix ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, ¼ cup olive oil with salt and pepper to taste
What are some healthy and refreshing summer snacks?
Summer offers a variety of delicious and nutritious produce that can really up your snack game. A healthy snack is one that includes both protein and fiber. Below are some easy and fun snack ideas to add to your snack rotation:
- A cup of blueberries with a handful of almonds
- A fresh nectarine with a cheese stick
- A bowl of Greek yogurt with some fresh-cut peaches
- A smoothie packed with spinach, berries, banana, coconut milk, and your favorite protein powder
- Yogurt + peanut butter dip with an apple
- Cottage cheese paired with pineapple
- Dried apricots with a handful of walnuts
How can I get my kids to eat more fruit?
Summer is the perfect time to offer your kids more fruit because there is such a great variety of options! The first step in trying to get your child to eat more fruit is by offering it more frequently. Kids are more likely to find fruits they like if they are exposed to them more often. Next, make it fun. You can plant a garden with them, find a U-pick berry farm to pick some berries or have them help you make a smoothie for a snack. Lastly, offer fruits in a variety of forms: smoothies, fresh, dried, canned, roasted, and more. Make it a goal this summer to offer more fruit to your kiddos.
How to help my picky eater?
Teaching kids to make healthy eating choices can be such a difficult and daunting task, but it is so rewarding. Most kids go through phases of pickiness, so do not worry, but it is important to remain consistent with your approach. Ultimately, the goal is for kids to make healthy choices, eat a variety of foods, and eat unhealthy foods in moderation. Below are a few ideas on how to accomplish this goal:
- Re-introduce foods they do not enjoy. This may sound scary, but putting a food they do not enjoy on their plate with foods they do enjoy gives them an opportunity to try it again. The best place for them to try new foods is at home in a controlled environment, so keep at it.
- Try different cooking methods. When you are re-introducing foods your child does not enjoy, try cooking it a different way; changing the cooking method may give it a different flavor or texture. For example, if your child does not like the zucchini you baked in the oven as your side dish last week, this week, try making zoodles (zucchini noodles) and mix them in with spaghetti noodles with some spaghetti sauce. Maybe they will like the texture better or enjoy the fun shape they are or they may like the zucchini paired with the spaghetti sauce.
- Include your child in the cooking process. When kids are included in the cooking process, they are more likely to eat the food they made. The fact that they made the food makes them proud of their work and also shows them how the food was made, which makes it less scary.
We hope that you found this conversation on heart health to be educational and gave practical ways to incorporate something new into your routine. In case you missed our series last year, head over to the rest of our blog posts. Stay in the know with all the organic happenings over on Instagram and give the team at Wel a follow for more wellness and nutrition tips. If you have questions to ask a nutritionist, leave a comment below!