Everyday Easy Meal-Planning Tips For Busy Families

Posted on November 10 2015

Everyday Easy Meal-Planning Tips For Busy FamiliesPreparing weeknight meals can be a hassle, or it can be really fun. It all depends on your kitchen implements, time-saving recipes and your attitude.

Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced chef, below is some advice to consider when picking out recipes and getting the entire family to participate in planning and eating healthy meals.

How Long Does Meal Preparation Really Take?

The average meal should take you between 50-60 minutes to prepare.

Washing and cutting vegetables involves around 10-15 minutes. Preparing your starch – rice, pasta or potatoes – requires about 30 minutes. The preparation of your meat will vary, but it should take no more than 10-15 minutes. Take full advantage of your time by cooking your meat alongside preparing your starch.

The more comfortable you are with your target recipe and cooking equipment, the faster you’re going to be in the kitchen.

Reroute Your Dinner Plans Around Healthy Meal Planning

Beginners in the kitchen should stick to simple ingredients and simple ideas to save time. Any healthy meal should consist of a protein, a medley of vegetables and a starch.

When you want to add new ingredients, target foods that you don’t normally see at the grocery store. When you’re standing in the checkout line, read the covers of cooking magazines for fresh and seasonal ideas. Or, the next time you’re out for dinner, browse the menu for your own meal ideas.

If you have children, involve them in meal preparation by taking them to the grocery store, inviting them to choose ingredients and allowing them to pick new foods to try. Buy them their own cooking tools, too. Children-friendly knives and other implements are usually made of plastic to simulate the real look without the harmful elements of regular cooking equipment. The earlier you involve your children in family meal planning, the sooner they learn the importance of eating healthy on a regular basis.

A Quick And Easy Recipe For This Week’s Dinner

If you want to create a pasta dish in a jiff, use canned marinara sauce.

But, if you want to control the sweetness of your sauce or the chunkiness of your tomatoes, try our recipe for a homemade marinara sauce with a prep time of only 15-20 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 bulb of minced garlic
  • 1 can of whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 2 cups of crisp white wine (Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio)
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • Chopped basil

Directions:

  • First, heat the olive oil (about an eighth of an inch or so) in a pan. Toss the minced garlic into the oil and wait for the garlic to brown (the actual color should be closer to tan).
  • Next, add a can of whole tomatoes. Here’s where you control the chunkiness of your sauce. As the tomatoes heat, break them apart with a wooden spoon or spatula, and allow the liquid from the tomatoes to infiltrate the oil.
  • Add two cups of white wine (if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t use it to cook!), and allow the mixture to boil. This will enable the liquor to leave the sauce.
  • As you bring the sauce to a simmer, take a taste. Add the tablespoon of sugar to cut the acidity from the tomatoes and sweeten the sauce to your liking.
  • Add a pinch of salt and finish with chopped basil.
  • Finally, add plain noodles or stuffed pasta to a portion of the sauce and enjoy.
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