To Your Health
December, 2009 (Vol. 03, Issue 12)
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Healthy 10-Minute Meals

By Dr. Claudia Anrig

If you're a busy parent or are just busy in general, you know it can be a real challenge, especially during the week, to find time to feed yourself and your family without relying on fast food or prepared items, which generally lack the balanced nutrition we all need.

How can you prepare healthy meals in a pinch? One of the foundational rules for getting a healthy meal on the table in 10 minutes or less is proper planning, and Sunday is the ideal day to plan out meals for the entire week. In particular, prep for those days that you know that you are going to be particularly busy; days when you know you'll be working late, rushing around getting the kids to soccer practice or dance classes, etc. Menu planning three to four days ahead can make a world of difference and prevent those last-minute poor choices that put a dent in your budget and your health.

Here's an easy way to get started: Brainstorm six to eight menus you can choose from whenever the need arises. Having that many options allows you to avoid repetition and gives you the freedom to mix things up. For example, if you know that one or two nights will be busy for you next week, you'll have something to fall back on without repeating yourself too many times in a month. When you're planning menus, also think about how many different meals you can create using a limited number of ingredients; that way, you can prep several meals at the same time.

Healthy meals - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Once you've chosen your menus, shop and prep in advance. That means doing everything from grilling chicken to chopping up vegetables to boiling rice or pasta. In some cases, you can completely finish the meal so it only requires reheating during your busy evenings. You can decide how much time you'll have and which foods can be partially prepared and which can be completely prepared in advance and still last for as long as you need them.

When time is at a premium, also keep in mind that these days, there are a variety of cooking tools that can help make the process easier. For example, a great tool that is regaining popularity in many households is the slow cooker. If vegetables, lean meat and potatoes are all chopped and sealed in separate bags on Sunday, it will only take you five minutes on a weekday morning to mix them with some water and then add stock and your favorite spices. Turn the slow cooker on, start your busy day and come home to a finished dinner. Also, many ranges and microwaves now have delay-start features, which lets you prepare a meal, put it in the oven and set it to start cooking when you want it to, so it's ready when you need it to be ready.

Healthy 10-Minute Meals

Turkey Taco Salad

  • Healthy meals soup - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Cook lean or extra-lean ground turkey thoroughly with seasoning.
  • Crumble it and arrange in the center of a bed of lettuce (which can be pre-washed and bagged).
  • Have the kids add warm or cool pinto, kidney, white or garbanzo beans.
  • Garnish the plate with baked taco chips and salsa, which can be used as a dressing.
  • Add a small amount of shredded cheese to top it all off.

Three Bean Turkey Chili

This takes 45 minutes of prep time, but only 10 minutes to get on your table for dinner. On your prep day, brown 1-2 pounds of lean ground turkey and crumble it in a large soup bowl with olive oil. Then add the following: