Now that we’re all returning to a sense of normalcy and the busy lives that we were accustomed to before the COVID-19 pandemic, we hope we can carry some of what we learned from time spent at home to maintain our health and well-being. Some of us did a lot of cooking and baking to pass the time and be proactive, so meal planning and meal prep may already be incorporated into our schedules. If not, it’s never too late to start! Shifting from the ability to prepare and eat meals at home to making those meals easy to carry on the go can be a lot easier than we may think. So, we put together some tips for meal planning and simple recipes and snack ideas that the whole family will love.
General tips when feeding the whole family
- Keep it simple. Plan the meal around the protein and then add a side of veggies and grains.
- Have themes. Taco night, build your own pizza night, or salad bar night. Make it extra fun by having the family play dress up, coordinating it with the theme.
- Have everyone write down their favorite meals and each week pick one.
- Make extra and freeze leftovers.
- Support your favorite local restaurant (and give the family chef a break) by ordering take out once a week.
Weekly planning chart
Here is a handy chart to help you plan out the week. Take an inventory of the food in your fridge and pantry and fill in the columns. Then choose one item from each box to build your meal, for instance, Salmon, rice, and broccoli. Use a different color highlighter for each day. Meal Prep Chart
Slow-Cooker Chicken Verde Taco Filling
Mexican is a great go-to, since each family member can choose individual toppings. You can add this tasty chicken filling to tacos, corn tortillas, salads, or burrito bowls.
- 1 pound organic free-range skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup Salsa Verde
- 1 cup chopped green cabbage
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
Directions: Combine the chicken and salsa in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 4 hours. Shred the chicken with a fork and sprinkle cabbage and onion on top as desired. Use in tacos or other recipes for a salad or a rice bowl.
Yield: 4 servings
Turkey and Black Bean Lettuce Tacos
The easy turkey and black bean filling in this recipe can serve as a base for many meals. Enjoy it as directed, add it to a salad, serve it on a corn tortilla, or mix it with quinoa and serve as a bowl.
- 1 pound organic 90% lean ground turkey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or spray olive oil
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Crushed red pepper to taste
- 1 (15-ounce) can organic black beans
- Romaine lettuce leaves
- 1/2 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt (optional)
- Jalapeño peppers, chopped (optional)
Directions: In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, add oil or spray, then cook the turkey until browned, and break it up into a crumble. Then mix in onion, cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper, stirring occasionally. Add the beans and cook, stirring occasionally, until the turkey is fully cooked (no pink color). To serve, wrap the mixture in lettuce leaves, as if they were taco shells. Top with the yogurt and jalapeño peppers, if desired.
Yield: 4 servings
Packing tip! Secure your lettuce in a separate container, so it won’t wilt by the time you’re ready to eat. That way it will taste and look fresh.
Immune Boosting Banana Berry Chia Smoothie
- 1 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
- 1/2 a frozen banana
- 1/2 frozen mixed berries
- I cup power greens
- 1-inch piece of fresh ginger root
- I inch slice of lemon rind
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1/3 cup Vanilla Juice Plus+® Complete nutritional
- shake mix or protein mix of choice.
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a blender. Add ice/water as needed for desired consistency.
The Snack Solution: Nibble Tray
Are the kids constantly bugging you for snacks? Try putting together a nibble tray.
Directions: Here’s how to prepare a Sears family-favorite nibble tray. Take an ice-cube tray or muffin tin and shoot for a rainbow of colors and foods that are most nutrient-dense, packing the most nutrition per calorie. Reserve three to four compartments for dips, such as guacamole, hummus, yogurt, and a nut butter. You could also try dips of pureed fruit or cooked vegetables like sweet potatoes. Toddlers love to dip!
It’s important to make eating not only delicious and nutritious but also fun. Give cute names to all the little foods, such as banana “wheels,” tofu or cheese “blocks,” broccoli “trees,” and egg “canoes” (a quarter of a hard-boiled egg). One of the most nutritious foods to begin early is wild salmon. Make a puree of wild salmon or tiny chunks of salmon covered with your toddler’s favorite sauce and add to the nibble tray. Notice that these foods are all nutrient dense. These snacks may be served as an after school or weekend snack or packaged in mini Tupperware’s to take to school and activities.
- 1 cup shredded zucchini – more if you want
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- Dash of salt
- 1 tablespoon sunflower or sesame seeds (omit if younger than four)
- Fruit spread or mild salsa for topping
Directions: Stir ingredients together without overbeating. Bake on a preheated griddle/skillet. The recipe makes one thick 8-inch pancakes or 4 mini pancakes. Before flipping, sprinkle on the sunflower or sesame seeds if desired.
Check out “Tips for Grocery Shopping with your Child”, click here.
Click here for the “Classic Sears Family Dinner Recipe”.