Welcome to 2017! Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? If so, chances are you set at least one goal related to staying fit and healthy. About 45% of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions, and losing weight is at the top of the list.
We all know that healthy eating is important, but sometimes it’s easier said than done when hectic schedules and tight budgets get in the way. To achieve your goal, a little bit of thought and planning can go a long way! One strategy is to use MyPlate as a guide to brainstorm meals that fit your family’s lifestyle and preferences. I find that it can be helpful to consider three main meal components – grains, vegetables and protein – and think about how to combine those components to make fast, nutritious meals throughout the week.
- Grains – Grains are often the base of a meal, especially if you’re fixing a skillet dish or casserole. Foods in the grain group include rice, quinoa, barley, pasta, couscous, bread and tortillas. MyPlate recommends we make at least half our grains whole grains, so look for whole grain varieties as available. When you cook a grain such as rice, quinoa, barley or pasta, you may want to fix a full pot so that you have enough to keep in the refrigerator or freezer and use to create “heat and eat” meals throughout the week.
- Vegetables – MyPlate recommends we make half our plate fruits and vegetables, and this can include fresh, frozen and canned items. I like to roast fresh vegetables in large batches and combine them with pre-cooked grains to create quick meals throughout the week. Frozen vegetables are also a fast and convenient way to add nutrition to meals.
- Protein – Protein includes meat, poultry, fish and eggs as well as nuts, seeds and beans. As with grains, when cooking meat or poultry, consider cooking enough to last the entire week. You can bake or grill meats, then use them in soups, casseroles or skillet meals in addition to being entrees. Canned beans are great to have on hand to conveniently add protein to your meals.
When you take the time to prepare grains, vegetables and protein in advance, it’s easy to throw together a quick weeknight meal. Dairy and fruit can then be added as toppings or side dishes.
Here are a few examples:
- Whole grain couscous with broccoli, carrots, chickpeas (or chicken), feta cheese and raisins
- Whole grain pasta with salmon, asparagus, lemon zest and Parmesan cheese, served with a side salad
- Risotto with Brussels sprouts, bacon, Parmesan cheese and apple slices
- Hamburger skillet with whole wheat macaroni, bell pepper, onion, tomato and cheese
- Tuna noodle casserole with peas and mushrooms
- Quinoa with roasted beets, orange slices, goat cheese and almond slivers served over arugula or spring mix
- Quinoa with sliced apples or pears, feta cheese and almond slivers served over spring mix
- Veggie wraps with sliced turkey, avocado and cheese
Do you have any favorite 30-minute MyPlate meals? Look for additional inspiration and share your ideas at MyPlate, MyWins.
Author: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, email@example.com
Reviewer: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, O.S.U. South Centers, firstname.lastname@example.org
Statistic Brain (2016). New Year’s Resolution Statistics. http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/
USDA ChooseMyPlate.gov (2016). MyPlate, MyWins. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/myplate-mywins