Back to School
Tips and Tricks for Healthy and Cheap Meals
By Colleen Davis-
It’s back to school season, and we’re busier than ever! Check out the ideas below to make your family meals faster and healthier this year.
- Meat is usually the most expensive part of a meal, so make the most of it! Are you preparing tacos or spaghetti for dinner? Use half the amount of meat. Purchase a smaller package of meat, or split a package and save the rest for another meal. “Fill in” the missing meat with canned beans, brown rice, or sautéed mushrooms and prepare the rest of the recipe as usual.
- Just add a vegetable. Is your family having macaroni and cheese tonight? Add frozen peas or chopped spinach when you are boiling the noodles and mix in with the cheese sauce. You can also easily mix extra vegetables into jarred spaghetti sauce and boxed meal kits to increase the number of servings and add extra nutrients.
- Buy frozen or canned fruits and vegetables. You may have heard that fresh produce is best, but any fruit and vegetable is better than none. If you’re able to give your family more fruits and vegetables by opting for canned or frozen varieties, then by all means do so! If you’re able to choose your own canned goods, look for “low-sodium” and “light syrup” on the labels for healthier options. You can also rinse the food items with water before serving to get rid of some of the salt or sugar.
- Think beyond the typical brown bag lunch. Spread peanut butter on a whole wheat tortilla, sprinkle with raisins, and roll up for a fun PB and J alternative.
- Everyone loves breakfast for dinner! Try scrambled eggs with whole-wheat toast and fruit. Cereal works for dinner, too. Look for a cereal with less than 7 grams of sugar per serving. If you have sugary breakfast cereals in the house, try mixing them half and half with a less sugar-filled variety.
Colleen is a Registered Dietitian in Michigan and holds a Masters of Public Health degree in Nutrition from the University of Michigan. She specializes in maternal, infant, and child nutrition.