How can you save money, free-up time, and be healthier? Meal planning! Food prepared at home eliminates eating out at a restaurant that would cost double the price. Preparing meals before the busy work week allows time for fun activities. Health benefits include: less saturated fats, sodium, and added sugars.

Plan a Menu by Building a Balanced Meal

When it comes to meal planning it is all about balance, variety, and moderation. These are the daily recommendations for adults according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans:

  • Vegetables: 2 ½ cups
  • Fruit: 2 cups
  • Whole Grain: 6 oz
  • Protein: 5 ½ oz
  • Dairy/Calcium Containing Beverage: 3 cups

Other considerations:

  • Added Sugar: Less than 6 teaspoons per day for females and 9 teaspoons per day for males
  • Saturated Fat: Total of 5-6% of total calories each day
  • Sodium/Salt: Less than 2,300mg per day.

The 3 P’s of Meal Prep

  1. PLAN a menu for the week and try to incorporate ingredients you already have at home.
  2. PURCHASE the foods you need at the store by sticking to the list, read food labels, and try to find items on sale as well as store brands to save money.
  3. PREPARE meals on days that are less busy like weekends and get food-safe containers to help with storing and organizing foods.

Healthy Snacking

Homemade: Start by making your own snacks like trail mixes with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. This snack is packed with immune boosting antioxidants and heart healthy omega-3 fats. Make it easy to grab a fruit or vegetable for a snack by storing in the front of the fridge or right at your desk.

Portions: Measure out small portions for about 200 calories at each snack time.

Balance: Quickly feel full with a snack with protein and fiber.  Options such as greek yogurt, hummus and carrots, or celery and peanut butter are great options!