The fun continues with this expanded guide to making healthful and tasty meals, without the stress! This post is a great resource for Family Meals Month, which is coming up this August. Keep an eye out for fun recipe links, a new handout, and lots more!
Stress-Free Strategy #5: Use a Slow Cooker
Like most of the stress-free strategies in this guide, this option does require a little prep ahead of time, but the payoff is worth it! Using a slow cooker is a great idea when you know you have a busy afternoon/evening because dinner will be ready when you are.
Here's what to do. In the morning, prepare the ingredients for your dinner and put the whole thing in the slow cooker. Then all you need to do is set it and forget it. While your food cooks, your house will start to smell amazing, and many slow cookers now feature warming settings that can keep the food at a safe temperature after it's finished cooking and before you're ready to eat it. When it's time for dinner, all you need to do is serve whatever's in your slow cooker!
Looking for inspiration? Here are some great recipes that you can make in a slow cooker...
- Crockpot Pea Soup
- Easy Crockpot Applesauce
- Lentil Rice Soup
- Slow Cooker Chicken Chili
- Steel-Cut Oats with Apples and Cherries
And for more information about slow cookers, check out these posts...
Stress-Free Strategy #6: Build Your Own
Balancing the dietary preferences of a family can be tricky, especially with allergies, picky eaters, and the latest trends. One of the ways to take the stress out of finding a meal to please everyone is to break that meal down into its parts and offer each one individually, so that everybody can mix and match to create a dinner they'll love!
Breaking a meal down sounds overwhelming, but I promise that it isn't. There's not a lot of extra prep involved. Let's walk through an example. I personally am a fan of burrito bowls. Start with a base of brown rice and add whatever fixings sound delicious. The spread often includes black beans, seasoned lean ground turkey, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sliced onions, salsa, guacamole, etc. Then the vegetarian still gets plant-based protein while the meat-lover can pile on the turkey. The onion haters don't have to so much as touch an onion, but the people who love onions can indulge to their hearts' content. See what I mean?
If you keep all the options healthy, then it's a win-win. Everyone makes a meal that they like, and it's good for them too! Plus, I've noticed that kids get more invested in a meal when they have more say in what goes into it.
Try this strategy with a baked potato bar, salad buffet, etc. The possibilities are endless!
(Here are a few recipes that make great jumping-off points...)
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand here's a new handout that you can share with your clients!
Want to offer even more help to your clients? Check out these fantastic cooking resources in the Nutrition Education Store! Remember, we're here to help you look your very best, right now.
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.