Redefining “Fast Food” the Healthy Way: Quick Meal Tips for Back-to-School

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With our busy schedules, it can be really difficult to devote time into preparing healthy, delicious meals. For my friends and clients with kids, that temptation to grab fast food is even more alluring, especially during back-to-school season. It’s generally a stressful time with the entire family adjusting to new schedules and finding everyone’s new rhythms after a summer of fun.

However, we have to remember that food not only nourishes our body, it also nourishes the mind and soul. When we’re stressed, we have to be even more mindful to ensure that we’re eating healthy, colorful food filled with nutrients that actually energize and fuel our body. 

Below are a few tips that I practice to give “fast food” a whole new meaning:

Plan Your Meals

We tend to want to order out when we don’t know what to cook. You can avoid that by making a plan and sticking to it. This also helps ensure that you don’t repeat any meals, keeping each dinner fun and exciting. You also shop smarter once you plan out your meals, as you only get what you’ll need, and you’ll waste less as you’ll likely cook everything you buy. 

Create Themes

As you’re planning your meals, create a theme where you highlight a key vegetable as the star! For example, make one week all about butternut squash where you have roasted butternut squash on top of spinach, cashew feta and quinoa for dinner one night and curry butternut squash soup with turmeric the other. This way you only have to focus on one star ingredient as you test out new recipes. That also brings us to our next step.

Prep in Advance

If you’ve ever wondered how professional chefs like myself can cook food so quickly, that’s because we depend on mise en place. That’s where we have everything we need prepped ahead of time and put in place so everything is easily accessible. You can adopt that technique by preparing your ingredients ahead of time. Cut all the onions, carrots and other veggies over the weekend so they’re readily available. For butternut squash week, you can even roast them ahead of time!

Stock Up on Healthy Pantry Staples

I always have some healthy staples in the pantry that I can add to any meal quickly to make it delicious and nutritious. For the pantry, get healthy superfoods like quinoa, chickpeas and lentil. These are great to add to hearty vegetarian bowls. 

Try incorporating some of these tips next week for easy, delicious and fast meals!

XO - Serena