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The struggle is real my friends. What’s for dinner? This age-old question is asked just about nightly in homes across America and abroad. My question is, do you have an answer? Coming up with daily meals can be perceived as a nightmare, especially for those who don’t like to cook, and more so for those who are attempting to eat differently (i.e. plant-based). Fortunately, many companies have appeared over the last few years offering up prepared meals shipped directly to your home. Heck, even major grocery stores have gotten in on the act. The problem is, not everyone can afford to have their prepped meals delivered weekly/monthly. What is a family to do? Here are my thoughts on the meal prep/prepare debacle. To truly succeed at meal planning, you:

1) Come up with at least 5 meals that you and/or your family enjoy. Think casseroles or one pot meals that can be refrigerated or frozen. For example: Plant Based Lasagna, Shepherd’s Pie, or Enchiladas. Alternatively, add in some meals that don’t require a lot of time, for example, Tacos (using plant-based crumbles, lentils, cauliflower or beans and potatoes), pasta salad, grilled cheese sandwiches, and of course huge salads with grains like couscous or quinoa.

2) After you have selected your 5 meals, write a list of the ingredients you will need to prepare the meals, and take 1 hour out of your week to shop for the ingredients. As a rule of thumb, I try to wash all my vegetables and fruits as soon as I get home from the grocery store, so they are readily available for eating and cooking; and

3) Now that you have your meals selected and your ingredients purchased, take 1 hour to prep all the food needed for those 5 meals. If you are preparing meals that can be frozen or refrigerated, go ahead, and prepare those meals ahead of time, then when that mealtime comes around you simply take it out of the freezer and bake. Another time saver is preparing vegetables ahead of time by chopping, dicing, and grating them and placing in individual baggies or containers to keep in the fridge until needed. This way when your recipe calls for diced onions and chopped carrots, all you need to do is pull them out of the fridge! The “hard part” is already done. I make a point to prepare and keep a “Bag of Salad” at the ready in my fridge. Having a salad already prepared and ready to eat is not only a time saver, but it can also keep you from making poor food choices when hunger strikes!

Mealtime doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Taking a little bit of time to prepare can reap major benefits during the week. Hey, if you can use one of those meal delivery services, good on you. If not, I hope these few steps help in some way to bring family mealtime back. Sitting down, talking face to face, no technology, enjoying a delicious, healthy meal prepared by you is nourishment not only for the body, but for the soul. Time with family and loved ones is precious. Don’t skip it. Savor it!

Stay Healthy,

Merlinda (8/29/21)

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