It’s so easy when you’re heading home late to take the easy way out and grab some fast food for dinner.
But that usually means you’re buying extra calories and fat, too.
Cindy Brison, a dietitian for Nebraska Extension for Douglas-Sarpy Counties, says planning meals ahead will help you resist the temptation. Especially if you already know what you are going to make and have all the ingredients you need waiting for you at home.
“It’s going to help you eat healthier,” she said.
Brison usually plans just a few meals each week in advance, and then fills in as needed. She’s always on the hunt for easy recipes that don’t take a lot of ingredients.
Many grocery stores now have easy meals listed on their websites. She’ll also look at places such as Kraft.com for inspiration.
Brison said it usually takes her about 10 minutes to do her planning. An important step is to check out what’s in your cupboard or freezer before going to the store to buy more.
Being too elaborate can be a big downfall to planning ahead.
“If you sit down with six new ingredients, with stuff you are never going to use again, then it can be kind of costly,” she said.
By planning a few meals, she knows that she will have enough leftovers to use on other days. The fried chicken from one night can be used in all kinds of dishes later in the week.
“I’m a big casserole person or pasta salad person,” she said. “Pasta, you can throw in anything with it.’’
She calls that trash-can cooking.
Sometimes even the simplest of meals is too much effort if you’ve worked all day and then attended one of your child’s activities afterward.
On those late nights, there’s nothing wrong with eating a bowl of cold cereal for dinner, Brison says.
You might have pancakes and eggs, sandwiches or let the family raid the fridge for a make-your-own dinner night.
“Cereal is good for you,” Brison said. “You have fiber and you get milk.”