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No-Stress Fall Meal Planning from the American Heart Association.

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to get 10 Quick and Easy Recipes to Cook and Eat Together

Make Family Meals Easier: Double Up to Save Time and Money

woman chopping food to put in pot on stove

Juggling work, school and activities can make cooking family meals more challenging. That’s when planning ahead can really pay off.

As you plan each week’s meals, look for ways to save time and money. For example, cook a double batch to make one meal into two or three. Or choose recipes based on ingredients that can be used in other meals during the week. With simple, healthy meals on-hand, you can avoid the temptation (and expense) of dining out. And you’ll save money that might be lost as food goes to waste

Here are 6 simple strategies to help your meals go further:

1. Double the recipe.

There can be a lot of prep work involved in some recipes, so make it count. Making twice as much doesn’t usually take twice the time. Make a double batch and save one for another meal, especially if it’s a family favorite.

2. Fill your oven.

Roasting a chicken? Add a sheet pan of veggies to roast at the same time and save some for future meals. Grilling? Same idea. Fill the grill with extra chicken, vegetables or even fruit.

3. Same ingredient, different recipe.

Save time by preparing ingredients that can be used in more than one meal. Roasted veggies can do double duty as a side dish tonight and in a casserole or soup later in the week. A pot of beans can add fiber and protein to several meals. Chopping some extra veggies at the beginning of the week can reduce prep time when cooking and also serve as a healthy snack.

4. Combine leftovers.

Serving chili one night and baked potatoes another? Top leftover potatoes with the chili for a tasty third meal. Cut up leftover meat or chicken to add protein to salads, pastas or sandwiches.

5. Make friends with your freezer.

Many foods freeze well — think soups, stews, chili — and make an easy meal on busy nights. Store in single-meal quantities (say, four servings) in an air-tight container. Make sure it’s cooled thoroughly in the fridge before putting it in the freezer. When you’re ready to serve, simply reheat and enjoy a healthy homemade meal.

6. Use your pantry.

Nothing eats up time like an extra trip to the grocery store. Stock your pantry with staple ingredients such as canned beans, canned tomatoes, whole-grain pasta and quick-cooking grains like quinoa. They can create a quick, balanced meal when time is short.

Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.

5 Tips to Deal with Picky Eaters (Both Kids & Adults)

Picky Eater

Picky eaters can miss out on a lot of good food! Not only can it be challenging cooking for folks who refuse to eat some foods, but they can also miss out on important nutrients found in foods often on the I-Don’t-Eat list like green vegetables, salads, fruit, skinless poultry and fish, beans, legumes, and nuts, low-fat dairy or whole grains.

The following tips will help nourish your family with healthful foods and help return some harmony to mealtime.

No Short-Order Cooking

Plan meals to include at least one thing that everyone likes (even if it’s the baked beans for the vegetarian or the dessert of fruit and low-fat, no-added-sugar yogurt parfaits!). Then serve one meal for everyone in the family; no exceptions. The alternative habit of preparing different foods for everyone is exhausting and it can take much longer for children to learn to like new foods.

Remember It Takes 11 Tries to Accept Something

It’s a normal for children to be cautious of new things – including food. Research has shown it sometimes takes 11 tries for a child to decide they like a new food. So keep serving broccoli – and even allow a child to touch it or play with it to learn about how it might feel in their mouth. Always ask that they take one bite.

No Clean Plate Club

Help kids focus on eating until they are full rather than finishing every last bite on their plate. Sometimes adults forget that small children have small bellies; a good rule to remember is: 1 tablespoon of food per age of the child for each dish (about 2 or 3 dishes). So a 3-year-old child should receive 3 tablespoons each of peas, noodles and chicken.

Shop & Cook with the Kids

Kids are more likely to taste a dish if they helped plan or prepare it. Letting kids choose veggies in the supermarket produce section or even in the frozen food aisle will empower them. Involve them with age-appropriate tasks such as in stirring, chopping or measuring ingredients; this will allow them to contribute to a project in which they are proud to share and eat! This technique works with picky adults/teens too: Asking them to help with the shopping and cooking gives them investment in the final product and greater curiosity to try it.

Serve Smart Snacks

One of the very best ways to get kids (and adults) accustomed to eating fruits and veggies is to serve them when they are really hungry at snack time. Veggies and hummus are a simple way to nourish children for play or homework – but not overfill their bellies so they aren’t hungry for a wholesome dinner. Serving salty chips, cookies or even sugary granola bars and artificially-flavored gummy ‘fruit’ snacks can be a quick option, but not the healthiest solution. Also serve snacks when kids are hungry, but not too close to meal time.

Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.

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