Organization is the crucial ingredient behind suppers that are as tantalizing as they are healthy. Your family can dine on a wide variety of nutritious choices, even on those days when everyone is scrambling to get someplace after dinner. Your crew also gets to dig into delicious desserts that taste too good to be wholesome. With a little bit of preparation, these ideas for healthy dinners and desserts gradually become ingrained into your daily routine.
Start each week by mapping out menus for your next seven dinners. Write out each day's entree and build your shopping list around those main dishes. As you shop, always look for sales of basic staples that can fit into any dinner menu, such as rice, fruits and vegetables. Cook and freeze extra portions of your beef, poultry and pork. Then, on busy days, toss those extras into a casserole, taco mix or wok for a fast main dish.
A rule of thumb is to ensure that a typical week of dinners includes two poultry dishes, two fish meals, one pork entree, one beef-based meal and one meatless dish like pizza or pasta, according to the online Dinner Planner. If your kids roll their eyes over the mere mention of fish or pork, just add an extra night of whole-grain pasta or veggie pizza. Enhance each meal with no-fuss side dishes of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, along with low-fat or fat-free milk.
Befriend your slow cooker no matter how long it's been sitting untouched inside your pantry. Load meat, stew or soup recipes into your crock pot so it can roast all day and greet you with the aroma of a mouth-watering dinner. Use your cooker for an all-day simmer of your special marinara sauce so that you only need to boil whole-grain pasta at dinner time. Stretch any crock pot dish by adding generous vegetable portions so you have leftovers for another dinner.
Stop thinking of dessert as a sinful ending to a healthy dinner. Instead, serve some fruit topped with creamy yogurt or fat-free frozen yogurt. Try fruit-flavored low-calorie sorbet like raspberry or mango. Toss berries with melon cubes, or sample unusual produce like papaya or starfruit. If you enjoy baking special treats, experiment with sugar substitutes and egg whites to cut calories. Bake mini tarts and cupcakes instead of full-sized pastries, or add applesauce to your brownie mix and reduce the recipe's oil by half.
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