Wellness Jackie’s Way: What’s for dinner?

Are you perpetually asking yourself, “What’s for dinner?” Believe it or not one of the first things I ask myself upon waking is, “What am I going to prepare for dinner?”

I don’t think enough credit is given to whoever makes this decision day in and day for the average family. It’s a big job. A lot of time and preparation goes into the final outcome. It’s a decision I have to work into my day’s activities. In the end, given enough prep time, all my efforts to serve a balanced and healthy meal with fresh ingredients pays off over the dinner hour where we traditionally consume our largest meal of the day. And that makes me feel good.

Fueling my family with the best nutrition I can offer is personally rewarding on many levels. Not to mention I’m helping to establish healthy eating habits for at least one important meal of the day.

Recognizing what foods make up a healthy and balanced meal and taking the time to slow down the day for the purpose of good nutrition going into our bodies is like a daily tune-up of your engine. All of this has merit when it comes to living long term and a healthy lifestyle.

Ideally, I like to take the time over a weekend to plan a few meals such as Monday through Wednesday for the upcoming week, and then shop for the ingredients on Saturday or Sunday. Often I will cook on Sunday a dish that provides leftovers so that on Monday I’m already set with a dinner of leftovers or at least there is food available and already cooked for any future meal. Examples of simple meals that work well for leftovers are lasagna, chili in a crock pot, beef stew and even stuffed bell peppers. In fact, one of the top 10 items I like to keep in my refrigerator is leftovers which serve as the next day’s lunch or dinner.

The point is, the more we cook at home, the better our control of ingredients, and we consume less sodium and sugar, and generally have smaller portions and total calorie consumption at meals. The goal is to create a lifestyle of healthy eating for optimal nutrition and to fuel our bodies for our daily activities.

But we know our world is not always perfectly set up to allow for pre-planned and possibly pre-prepped meals where the cooking and eating is supposed to relieve the day’s stress. For some, the process of planning and cooking may, in fact, add to the daily dose of stress. So, if all effort s go awry, there are a slew of options available to aid in minimizing the prep time required for healthy meals and even on a daily basis.

In fact, you can get vegetarian, gluten-free, organic, vegan, kid-friendly and pretty much any type of specific eating requirements you need, delivered right to your front door all packed in a neatly packaged box complete with ice packs to keep perishable items fresh.

There are companies who have simplified the process of meal planning, shopping, and cooking for many families today. They provide a variety of recipes/menus to choose from which are either prepped or premade and are easy to pull together and taste delicious. You can typically choose between two and four meals per week, for two to four people. Most companies allow you to customize your menu from a selection of several meals each week. The top three companies that come to mind are Hello Fresh, Green Chef, and Blue Apron. In fact, even Martha Stewart has a meal delivery service!

Hello Fresh is for newbie chefs with easy-to-follow, minimal-step meals. They are all about healthier options and cleaner versions of classic comfort foods. Hello Fresh has a large international presence that started in Germany and quickly expanded to several other European countries and Canada.

Green Chef is the first ever USDA certified organic meal kit provider that is free of synthetic pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics and GMO’s. They are all about offering flexibility with the option to try different meal plans week to week and no meal takes more than 30 minutes to make.

And Blue Apron is for the traditional chef, and really set the standard in the industry launching in 2012 and they continue to be good at what they do. They are about providing a great cooking experience for their users.

And in case you’re interested, Marley Spoon is Martha Stuart’s meal delivery service and they take pride in using 100 percent recyclable packaging for their fresh ingredients and offer a flexible delivery schedule.

Some of the other companies offering meal delivery services are Sun Basket, BistroMD, Plated, Freshly, PeachDish, Daily Harvest, Pre-Made Paleo, Munchery and Purple Carrot to name just a few.

If people weren’t using these services, then there wouldn’t be so many but obviously, there are plenty to choose from and more popping up every year.

So our desire to be healthy and cook nutritious meals is prevalent but we don’t take the time to do it ourselves. And that’s OK if you’re using one of these companies to keep you healthy.

However, before you launch into a new habit with meal delivery services, you’ll need to assess your family’s budget. Most meals range between $8-$12 per person per meal so you’re looking at a range of $50-$140 per week depending on how many meals you get and how many you are feeding.

It’s not too bad when you compare this price range to what you might pay at a restaurant or for the already prepared food to be delivered. Most of these companies offer significant discounts on your first order and the ability to earn more discounts when friends and family use your referral. So you can decide what works best for you.

Personally, I think everyone should learn to cook. It’s a great skill to have. And even better to teach or demonstrate to kids these days with hopes that they grow up healthy and learned the basics of preparing fresh ingredients for nutritious meals. I have a magnet that says, “Love People, Cook them tasty food.” It’s one of our oldest and deepest-rooted traditions when it comes to interacting with family and friends. Sharing good meals together is what we do as a species. Let’s keep the focus on nutritious and healthy meals while we’re at it.

email: Tate4foodandfitness@verizon.net
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About Jackie Tate

Jackie Tate has been working in the health and fitness industry for 25 years. She has a master’s of science degree in health education and a bachelor’s of science degree in nutrition, both from Penn State. Early in her career she was recruited by Johnson & Johnson to work in their diabetes division during which time she earned her diabetes educator certification. In 2009, she developed a health and wellness consulting business. Tate’s Wellness Company enables her to work with individuals to create personalized dietary plans using a one-on-one consultation approach. She conducts personal training sessions and leads fitness classes at Way Martial Arts in West Chester, Darlington Arts in Garnet Valley, and the Concord Country Club in Concord Township. Jackie is a certified fitness trainer, Silver Sneakers and zumba Instructor. Additionally, she teaches nutrition to students attending the Academy of International Ballet in Glen Mills. Lamb McErlane, PC is one of Jackie’s corporate clients where she delivers nutritious Lunch N Learn sessions for employees as part of their on-going commitment to wellness. Jackie has a passion for inspiring people to lead healthier lifestyles through optimal nutrition and fitness. Tate4foodandfitness.com Tate4foodandfitness@verizon.net

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