Making healthy meals at home takes some work, but it’s a lot easier with advance planning. Mint Nutrition gives you all the steps to get started.
Before going to the grocery store, take a few minutes to gather your recipes, plan the week’s menu and make a list of the ingredients you’ll need. Sometimes that means checking your pantry for staples. No one likes the feeling of coming home from the store, starting to cook and realizing you thought you had fresh garlic. At the store, shop the outer aisles for seasonal produce and fresh and frozen foods, which are cheaper and depending on the season better quality than their fresh counterparts. (Berries in fall and winter — blah!) Stock your pantry with canned and dry goods to save time and money later.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking fresh local produce evaporates in the fall. In temperate climates like North Carolina, there’s something in season year-round.
Among fall’s fresh selections are:
• Winter squash of every variety including butternut, acorn, kabocha and pumpkin (no, pumpkin spice latte doesn’t count)
• Spaghetti squash and delicata squash (this is particularly good for its edible rind)
• Cold-hardy greens like kale, collards, spinach and arugula
• Cabbage (red and green)
• Root vegetables including parsnips, carrots, beets and celeriac (aka celery root)
• Fingerling potatoes and sweet potatoes
• Apples, pears and figs
• Ginger (at its prime this time of year in temperate zones)
• Jerusalem artichokes (aka sunchokes for the tall yellow flowers that signal their fall harvest)
• Parsley (yes, parsley, the hardiest of herbs and the star of my recipe for gremolata in my Easy Food Prep You Tube video!)
When you get home from the store, build in time for a bit of prep. Clean produce, chop, slice and dice vegetables if needed and store them in clear glass containers. I don’t know about you, but if it’s not prepped and placed front and center in the fridge it ends up in the trash! Roast chicken breast in the oven and put on a pot of coconut rice. My fav!! (See the recipe below.) Plan simple dishes that can be used in different ways throughout the week. Herb-roasted chicken breast with coconut rice and green salad on Sunday can be turned into a salad bowl for lunch on Monday or Tuesday. Easy peasy!! Make foods that are a cinch to store and reheat like our Cranberry Farro Salad.
I can’t overemphasize the utility of salad bowls, both in terms of your health and in making sure the time and money you’ve spent on food prep isn’t wasted. Invest in a deep glass container with a lid. Layer it starting on the bottom with dressing, grains, protein and hard veggies (leftover chicken, farro, rice, carrots, radishes, red and green cabbage, celery etc.) This method allows the firmer ingredients to soak up the dressing — yum! As part of your weekly food prep, make a batch of easy, all-purpose vinaigrette like my White Balsamic Italian Dressing. Add greens and other delicate ingredients like sprouts and avocado others on top. When it’s time to eat, shake the container while holding the top (of course, but we all need reminders!). This formula can be adapted to a variety of fresh, seasonal salad ingredients, dressings, grains and proteins. A great alternative to dressing is a dollop of hummus and half a lemon. It makes the salad super creamy and loaded with flavor! For more suggestions about crafting a salad bowl, check out my Quick & Healthy Crunchy Salad Mix.
For more kitchen hacks on food prep watch my Easy Food Prep You Tube video.
Looking for more easy, healthy recipes and kitchen tips from Mint Nutrition? Start here, and be sure to follow Mint Nutrition on Instagram and You Tube for continued recipes, tips, and insight.
In good health,