Family Dinner Fallbacks

Black Bean Pizza.

The physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals are substantial and in an ideal scenario they would take priority in our family calendars over other activities. However, with conflicting schedules it can be challenging to fit in family meal time. For busy nights, home cooks need family dinner fallback meals that are guaranteed to please and require minimal time and effort. Keeping some basic ingredients on hand will help you whip up a simple, but nutritious meal and avoid the drive thru, takeout or eating at restaurants. This is a win for your family’s health and budget. For this month’s Nutritious Nudge, let’s discuss some fallback recipes that you can call on to consistently and quickly get dinner on the table. 

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How to Use Meal Prepping to Create Family Time

Rainbow Spring Rolls

If you’re the family meal planner in charge of the plan/shop/cook process for your household, you know that when the rest of the family is there to share in the task it’s a good thing. When it also helps bring the family together, it’s even better. From sharing who picks the meal, exploring the local market for the ingredients you need, and finally bringing it all together with one another in the kitchen, meal prepping can foster family time.

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The Nextover Generation

Chicken Eggplant Casserole

We love meal prepping in my house. By “we,” I mean “I,” and by “love,” I mean “appreciate the time savings.” The problem with meal prepping is the leftovers. Big batch meals are easy to make, but with just two adults and a toddler in the house? Even the best lentil soup in the world gets a bit tired after three nights straight. The happy medium, I find, is nextovers.

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How School Meals May Look This Fall

The featured photo of the article.

The pandemic has changed so many facets of our lives that it sometimes seems like everything is getting revamped, revised, or reconstructed. That most certainly goes for school, too. If your child’s school is opening for in-person learning this fall, you no doubt have lots of questions about what the day will be like for your child. Your child will, too. One thing that will likely be very different is the school lunch experience.

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Fridge-Free Snacks

Herbed Popcorn

Snacks are often helping us keep up our energy between meals as we’re going about busy lives. This means that we often need snacks that are safe left sitting in a hot car, or which at least don’t require refrigeration. This list of recipes brings you a range of homemade, shelf-stable snack options that have some dietary fiber, protein, and fat to help stave off hunger…no fridge required.

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Snack Bars Only Go So Far

Homemade Snack Bars

As kids start to head back to school and family calendars become increasingly busy with after-school activities, there’s even more interest among shoppers in convenient snacks that do not compromise on nutrition. Snack bars check off a lot of boxes for consumers looking for on-the-go snacks. They are available in appetizing flavors, have a long shelf life, are packed in attractive single serving packaging, and are perceived as a healthy choice due in part to convincing health claims by manufacturers. However, in terms of nutrition, not all snack bars are created equal. For this edition of Surprising Stars, let’s discuss why there are less Guiding Stars-earning snack bars than some might expect and how to ensure your selection within these foods is nutrient dense. 

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Better-for-You Lunch Packs

Mediterranean Chicken Salad Pinwheels

Let’s consider lunch packs, the packaged combinations of high-sodium lunch meat, cheese, and crackers that made an early debut as a ready-to-go school lunch option. Today there are many of these items on the market that are composed of lower sodium and more healthful options. That said, they still may not earn a Guiding Star. In this case, I believe there is another strategy we can use to decide if a packaged food is a good choice.

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