Little boy cutting vegetables while his father cooking food in kitchen. Father and son preparing food at home kitchen.

By: Jen Ong Tone, MHSc, RD

It’s 5:00 pm. Whether you’re commuting home from work or making your way to the kitchen from your home office, do you often find yourself asking, “What’s for dinner?” It can be overwhelming to figure out dinner on a whim. But it doesn’t have to be! That’s where meal planning comes to the rescue. Meal planning not only saves you time, but it can also help you eat better and save money, as you won’t be buying as many meals from outside the house.

Step 1:  Shift your mindset – Plan your meals around veggies

How can you get started? One way to approach meal planning is to plan your meals around vegetables. Yes, you read that right, vegetables. It might take some getting used to but thinking with this mindset can help you fill half your plate with veggies and fruits. And, who doesn’t benefit from eating more vegetables? Loaded with nutrients like fibre, vitamins, and minerals, more veggies on the plate can leave you feeling good and help you achieve your health goals.

Step 2: Look for healthy meal inspiration

Before going to the grocery store, think about what kind of meals you’d like for the week with veggies as the star. Why not try a veggie-loaded stir fry, hearty salad, or veggie-based soup? Check out www.Harvest-Fresh.ca for meal inspiration.

Step 3: Add Ready-to-Eat and Pre-Cut Veggies to Your Grocery Cart

Want to save time? Add ready-to-eat and pre-cut veggies to your grocery cart. Often time, there’s no need to peel, cut,  nor wash! And – they’re just as nutritious as their whole counterparts. On busy weeknights with the kids, have ready-to-eat salads and pre-cut veggies available to save on preparation time in the kitchen. It makes veggies the easy choice.

The ready-to-eat produce section in grocery stores has expanded in recent years. It’s gone beyond your traditional baby carrots and Caesar salads. You can now find fun and innovative pre-cut veggies in the marketplace, like the following from Harvest Fresh:

  • Kale salad blends:
    • Add nuts and seeds, leftover quinoa, and your favourite salad dressing for a complete meal ready in minutes.
  • Spiralized veggies:
    • Put a fun twist on spaghetti night and mix half of your pasta noodles with spiralized zucchini.
    • Add spiralized beets or carrots to a salad for a “Wow” effect.
  • Riced veggies:
    • Use riced vegetables, like cauliflower and broccoli, instead of rice.
    • Use riced cauliflower and broccoli to make your own veggie tots.
  • Veggie sheets:
    • Use zucchini, butternut, and sweet potato sheets when making lasagna and cannelloni.

What’s also great about these products is that they offer a healthy alternative for Canadians who need to limit their carbohydrates or avoid gluten.

Step 4: Take Small Steps

Whether it’s browsing for new veggie-based recipes, writing your first grocery list, or picking up pre-cut veggies on your next grocery store visit, understand that healthy eating starts with small changes. Think about one change you’d like to make and start from there.

Looking for more healthy, creative, and easy meal ideas? Visit: www.harvest-fresh.ca

Be sure to also check out our Instagram Live event on Monday December 6 at 12:30P.M. ET, where dietitian Carol Harrison, RD, will be preparing riced cauliflower English muffins!

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