Nutrition expert gives advice on healthy meal planning

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Meal planning can be overwhelming at first, but with the right habits and eating practices, any busy, sleep deprived parent can be a snack time superhero.

Joining us Saturday on Good Morning Connecticut, Kara Ganssle, the Director of Nutrition at POP Weight Loss, shares a list of tips for healthy meal planning.

The realization that the twilight of summer is upon us occurs as we stroll through store aisles filled with school supplies.  We reflect on the past few months and recognize that for every sunny beachside walk, there may have been an equal trip to the local ice cream shop.  The start of school marks a new beginning for many.  While the world waits until January to proclaim the beginning of a new year, both mothers and educators know better. The real calendar starts in September and the new school year is the perfect time to re-evaluate eating habits and schedules.

This time of year is loaded with planning.  Some have to plan a new morning routine, or even organize an after school shuttle.  While we are inundated with meetings, practices, and homework the thought of preparing a meal or snack falls off the radar.  Just like studying for a test, if you put in the work ahead of time, the outcome will be worth it.

To watch the full interview with all of this information, click on the video above. According to Ganssle, parents should:

  1. Take an inventory. What do you have in the freezer? What do you have in the cupboards?  Know what you have before you plan or shop for the week.
  2. Plan your first meal. What meal can you make with just the ingredients found in your fridge, freezer, and/or cupboard?  This is a starting point that forces you to get creative and use what you have.  Always remember when planning your meal, first pick your protein choice and then add additions to complete the meal.
  3. Plan some more. Plan three more meals that you and your family will love, then proceed to plan the rest. Leftovers are always a great choice for easy nights where there is a lot going on. POP suggests trying one new meal a week. If that meal is a success, you can add it into your rotation.
  4. Plan snacks/lunches. Just like with dinner, make a list of the snack options that everyone enjoys.  At POP we see a lot of moms who forget to snack because they have nothing to grab.  If you plan ahead and have the options on hand, there are no excuses as to why you are going 5 hours without eating.
  5. Shop. Once you have your plan, it is time to make a shopping list. At this point, you know what you have in the house so you don’t have to buy more than you need.
  6. Prepare. Once you’ve made your list, and have gone shopping, the next step is to prepare the food.  This means washing your vegetables and fruit so that you can save time later.  For extra busy moms, try investing in inexpensive containers that can hold a portion of nut butter, hummus, or almonds.  If you have these pre-portioned, it will make assembling a quick snack even easier.
  7. Cook in bulk. Piggy back your protein from dinner to lunch the next day.  A large pot of chili could feed a small family for a couple of nights.

POP Weight Loss promotes clean eating and sticking to a schedule.  Getting into the habit of pre-planning your meals will allow you to spend less time panicking and more time doing things you enjoy.  A plan can prevent you from making poor choices. For more tips, visit https://www.facebook.com/PopOldSaybrook and for more recipes visit our site at www.popweightloss.com.

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