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Plan and cook ahead of time

Prepare ingredients ahead of time. Vegetables and greens can be washed and trimmed the night before. Get in the habit of preparing enough of some items so that you can eat twice from that recipe. For example, make a double or triple batch of spaghetti sauce and freeze the extra for future use. Spaghetti sauce can be moved from the freezer to the refrigerator to defrost the night before and easily reheated after a busy day. Make a big pot of beans or a large batch of rice to form the base of a variety of quick recipes. Cooked beans keep several days in the refrigerator or for months in the freezer.

Quick breakfast ideas

Be sure to take time to eat breakfast to provide energy to "start your head" for the day ahead. Winning breakfasts that are quick, easy and healthy include:

  • bagels with your favorite lowfat cream cheese
  • ready-to-eat cereal topped with sliced banana and yogurt
  • quick hot cereals
  • bran muffins served with fresh fruit
  • peanut butter on toast with milk
  • dinner leftovers wrapped in a tortilla
  • yogurt sprinkled with whole grain cereal
  • breakfast shakes can be made with milk or yogurt, fruit and a teaspoon of bran


Pasta can be used to create delicious and healthy meals in a short time. Mix any cooked pasta with your favorite cooked vegetables, add herbs and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and you've got a family-pleasing meal.


Beans are fiber-rich, inexpensive and the canned varieties are quick to prepare. With pre-planning and soaking beans overnight and cooking in a crock-pot all day, a healthy meal will be ready for dinner after a busy day for a hungry family.


Stir-frying is a method of cooking foods over high heat with very little oil, and it's fast and easy. In a skillet or wok cook bite-size pieces of meat, chicken or fish and stir-fry in a small amount of oil over medium-high to high heat until cooked through. Add chopped vegetables and cook until just done.

Salads and sandwiches

Salads and sandwiches can provide a meal with little effort. Add cooked rice, canned beans or marinated vegetables to lettuce salads for a more filling dish. Add leftovers to a tortilla to make a tasty "wrap".

Snacks and desserts

Just like a car needs gas to run its engine, your body needs food for fuel to keep you healthy and energized. When you feel hungry between meals, your body is sending you a signal to refuel. Think of snacks as healthy mini-meals. Healthy snack ideas include fresh fruit such as grapes or a sliced apple, low fat yogurt, whole grain crackers, graham crackers, pretzels or air-popped popcorn. Small amounts of prepared foods, like leftovers, work well for a quick pick-me-up. For a delicious dessert, top frozen yogurt with fresh berries or canned peaches. Make your own juice cubes by freezing 100% fruit juice in ice cube trays; lay a plastic fork or spoon in each one to use as a handle.