3 Tips for Stress Free Meals by American Diabetes Association

Is time one of your biggest challenges? Set yourself up for success with strategies and stress-free meal ideas to get dinner on the table quickly with these three tips.

3 Tips for Stress Free Meals

Every March is National Nutrition Month®. It’s about taking the time to appreciate the social experiences that food and nutrition can add to our lives. For many people, that means a simple dinner shared with a partner or spouse, family or friends. Is time one of your biggest challenges? Set yourself up for success with strategies and stress-free meal ideas to get dinner on the table quickly with these three tips.

  1. Put quick-meal staples on your grocery list. Stock items in the kitchen that make it easy to put together dinner when time is tight. When you shop, think about the basic foods you need to Create a Healthy Plate. That means filling half of a dinner plate with nonstarchy vegetables, 1/4 with lean protein, 1/4 with whole grains or starchy foods, and adding some fruit and/or dairy on the side. So start with fresh or frozen vegetables, and toss some no-salt-added or reduced-sodium tomatoes for pastas and casseroles in your grocery cart. Canned vegetables such as artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers are another way to add flavor. Starchy and whole-grain staples include no-salt-added or reduced-sodium canned beans, pre-cooked or quick-cooking brown rice, and whole-wheat or corn tortillas. For protein, rotisserie chicken, frozen fish fillets, frozen chicken breasts and eggs are all options to keep on hand.
  2. Use a slow cooker. If you have a slow cooker, don’t let it sit in the cabinet! Use it to do the work of preparing dinner for you. In the morning, toss some canned beans, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce and frozen corn in a crockpot with cumin, chili powder and garlic. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours to make a chili that will be ready when you get home. You can also add other vegetables that you have on hand, such as diced onions, bell pepper or carrots. For more ideas, browse all of our slow-cooker recipes.
  3. Scan recipes for do-ahead steps. In the ADA cookbook, The Six O’Clock Scramble Meal Planner, cookbook author and family dinner advocate Aviva Goldfarb shares her streamlined system for fast and easy diabetes-friendly dinners. Many recipes include slow-cooker instructions and “do ahead or delegate” steps you can complete in advance to save time. In many cases, you can prepare spice blends and toppings such as pesto, sauces or salad dressing. Wash, peel and chop vegetables, and thaw or marinate meat or poultry, if needed. Cook whole grains and then refrigerate them—toss precooked pasta with a little oil to prevent sticking. Save another step by cooking and refrigerating proteins such as chicken for cold salads. Don’t forget finishing touches, like cheese you can shred or nuts and seeds you can toast. The best approach may vary with your recipe and cooking methods, so always use your judgment!

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