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Canada Food Guide Revisited
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Tune up Your Diet
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Diet Reality Check
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Energy Drinks
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Healthy Diet, Healthy Smile
Healthy Eating for Boomers and Zoomers
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Healthy Ethnic Meals
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Feeding Your Kids
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Food Chemistry 101
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Getting Kids to MOVE
Healthy Eating for Teens
Healthy Habits
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New Ingredients for Your Shopping Cart
Iron
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Meal Planning with Planned Overs
Mercury Levels in Fish
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Family Health Magazine - NUTRITION

Too Busy to Cook?
Eat better and save time with planned-overs

meal planning guideWith the arrival of fall, we bid an abrupt goodbye to the lazy days of summer and dive into the hectic rush of autumn. In a matter of weeks, the family calendar and day-timer are overflowing with reminders of lessons, practices, meetings and volunteer commitments. Meanwhile, we try to keep up with household tasks, meal preparation, homework help and family demands. We become jugglers with a complex balancing act. Often we cannot keep all the balls in the air and must drop one in order to keep juggling the others.

In our society, the ball most often dropped is home cooking. “No time!” is one of the most common reasons given for not preparing healthy homemade meals. In fact, on any given night, only 70 per cent of Canadians are making and eating dinner at home.

Although they are quick and tasty, fast foods, restaurant meals and heat-and-eat convenience foods often contain too much fat and salt (sodium) and are low in dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals. So don’t abandon the kitchen! There are better ways to eat well and stay healthy – in spite of your family’s hectic schedule.

Why not try planned-overs?

Planned-overs involve preparing extra food or ingredients for one dinner that you can use a day or two later to create an entirely new meal (unlike leftovers, the same meal reheated a day or two later). The beauty of planned-overs is that it takes the same amount of time to cook enough rice, chicken or vegetables for two meals as it does for one. Even clean-up time is the same! Preparing these same foods or ingredients with a new twist a couple of days later keeps both you and your family happy.

Time-saving Ingredients

Keep a supply of partially prepared foods on hand to use for quick meals. These foods are convenient and equally nutritious.

  • frozen cooked shrimp
  • shredded cheese
  • frozen vegetables – many varieties
  • boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • bottled minced garlic
  • salad in a bag
  • boneless trimmed meats
  • fresh pasta
  • pre-shredded coleslaw
  • frozen fish fillets
  • peeled baby carrots
  • pre-cut stirfry vegetables

Planned-over tips

Pasta salad for lunch – Cook extra pasta for supper and make a pasta salad for lunch the next day. Add drained, canned black beans, frozen mixed vegetables (any variety you like) and your favourite low-calorie salad dressing.

Handy veggies - Next time you are preparing vegetables for a meal or salad on the weekend, cut extra and keep them in the fridge. Sliced cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes and onions are great to have on hand to use in salads and sandwiches during the week.

Fresh-baked cookies – Who doesn’t love homemade cookies fresh from the oven? If you are baking cookies, make a double batch of dough. Bake half and freeze the rest. On a day when you are using the oven for a meal, take the dough out of the freezer in the morning. While you are making supper, the kids can spoon thawed dough onto cookie sheets. Bake the cookies in the oven along with your supper dish. You now have a special dessert and snacks for the next day.

To have a cook-a-thon, simply make bigger batches of food and several dishes at one time and freeze them for meals later in the week or month. (See the Amazing Beef Cook-a-Thon recipes below).This is another time-saving strategy for preparing healthy meals for your family.

One Week of Planned-Over Meals

Cook or prepare (chop, shred and cut) twice the amount of the foods or ingredients marked * as you would use in one meal. Then, use the extra food or ingredient marked ** in a new meal. For instance, bake enough salmon* on Monday to feed your family for two meals. The extra baked salmon will be used in the salmon** rotini with pesto on Wednesday. For nutritionally complete meals, serve milk. Finish with fruit that is either fresh, frozen, canned or dried.
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Baked Salmon *
with lemon
wedges

Steamed rice*

Maple-glazed
carrots


Cut carrots into sticks.* Steam until tender-crisp. Drizzle with a small amount of maple syrup.
Mexican bean
foldovers


Mix steamed rice** with rinsed, canned black beans, chopped tomato* and chili powder. Heat in microwave, then spoon onto flour tortillas. Sprinkle with shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese* and fold.
Carrot sticks**

Salmon rotini
with pesto


Sauté sliced onion and red pepper in olive oil. Add chunks of baked salmon** and cooked rotini pasta. Mix in capers and pesto.
Steamed frozen green beans with slivered almonds.
Whole wheat
linguini*

Tomato
meat sauce*


Green salad made with Romaine lettuce*, chopped tomato**, cucumber slices and sliced red onion.*
Grilled Chicken Breast

Herb and
garlic pasta


Lightly sauté minced garlic in olive oil. Add cooked linguini** and reheat. Sprinkle with Italian dried herb seasoning.
Saturday Sunday
Easy deluxe pizza

Spread meat sauce** over store-made pizza crust. Sprinkle generously with shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese** and top with sliced red onion,** green pepper and sliced black olives and bake.

Caesar salad made with Romaine lettuce.**
Roasted dinner

Cook a roast beef or chicken that is large enough for two meals. Plan to use the extra beef or chicken in meals during the next week.

Make juggling life’s many demands easier. Give planned-overs and an occasional cook-a-thon a try! You will soon find yourself thinking about how to spend the extra time and energy you will have. Perhaps you can put your feet up and relax, or go for a refreshing walk before supper.

Benefits of Meal Planning and Home Cooking

The Amazing Beef Cook-a-thon

If you are feeling energetic on a day off, declare the kitchen off-limits and do the impossible. Make four meals in two hours! Here is what you will need, and what to do:

4 lb. (about 2 kg) extra lean ground beef
3 - 284 ml cans tomato soup
3 medium onions
2 - 540 ml cans kidney beans
2 cloves garlic
30 ml (2 tbsp) white vinegar
1 medium green pepper
1 - 284 ml can vegetable or beef broth
4 stalks celery
1 - 540 ml can diced tomatoes
2 carrots
175 ml frozen corn
1 pkg ‘less salt’ taco seasoning mix
175 ml dry macaroni
1 - 700 ml jar spaghetti sauce
seasonings
  1. Chop onions, garlic and green pepper. Slice celery and carrots. Keep all the vegetables in separate piles.
  2. Brown all of the ground beef in a large Dutch oven on medium heat on the stove.
  3. While browning meat, open all cans. Drain and rinse kidney beans.
  4. Drain meat and divide evenly between the Dutch oven and three other large saucepans. Each saucepan will hold one of the four dishes you are preparing.

    Beef taco filling – Add taco seasoning mix and water to beef and cook according to package directions. (To serve, spoon filling into hard taco shells and top with chopped lettuce and tomato, shredded cheese, salsa and low fat sour cream.)
    Spaghetti sauce – Add one-third of the chopped onion and half of the minced garlic to the beef and cook until tender. Stir in spaghetti sauce and simmer for 20 minutes. (Serve over cooked whole wheat pasta and accompany with a salad.)
    Chili – Add one-third of the onion, and half of the celery and green pepper. Cook until tender. Add 2 cans tomato soup, kidney beans, vinegar and 1 tablespoon chili powder. Simmer for 20 minutes. (Serve with crusty multigrain buns and coleslaw.)
    Hamburger veggie soup – Add one-third of the onion, half of the garlic and half of the celery. Sauté until tender.
    Add carrots, broth, two cups of water, bay leaf and half a teaspoon of thyme. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add a can of tomato soup, canned tomatoes and corn. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni and gently boil for 10 minutes or until pasta is cooked. (Serve with toasted cheese bagels or baked frozen cheese pizza.)
    Divide the meals into portions that will feed your family for one meal. Spoon into zip-lock freezer bags or sealable containers.
  5. Freeze immediately. Thaw in the fridge before preparing.

Recommended reading: Simply Great Food is available in all stores where cookbooks are sold. Visit www.dietitians.ca or more information on this book and other tidbits on Eat Well, Live Well.

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FAMILY HEALTH is written with the assistance of
Alberta College of Family Physicians
FAMILY HEALTH is written
with the assistance of
The College of Family Physicans of Canada
Alberta College of Family Physicians
While effort is made to reflect accepted medical knowledge and practice, articles in Family Health Online should not be relied upon for the treatment or management of any specifid medical problem or concern and Family Health accepts no liability for reliance on the articles. For proper diagnosis and care, you should always consult your family physican promptly. Copyright 2012, Family Health Magazine, a special publication of the Edmonton Journal, a division of Postmedia Network Inc., 10006 - 101 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 2S6  [NU_FHc07]
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