Tips to Make Your Meal Planning Easier

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If you want to eat healthier and save yourself some time, registered dietitian Marisa Moore says start at your grocery store with a check of what’s in your shopping cart.

"Half your cart should be filled with vegetables,” Moore says. “Whatever you like: fresh, frozen, whichever one works for you."

The next 25% of your cart should be lean protein.

"So that could be any type of lean meat that you decide to eat, eggs, cheese, if you choose a lower fat cheese,” says more."

If you don't eat meat or animal products, Moore says, try beans, different types of nuts, seeds and lentils.

The final 25% of cart should be healthy whole grains.

"So, that's your oatmeal, barley, brown rice, quinoa.  All of that,” Moore says.

Pick foods that can multi-task and be spread across several meals.

"Meal planning seems a little confusing for a lot of people, and it's overwhelming,” Moore says. “But it's actually pretty simple."

To get the most for your money, shop for fresh produce that is in-season, like broccoli and greens.  When you get your groceries home, put the fresh stuff at the front of your refrigerator, within easy reach.

"A lot of times people buy fresh produce and it sits in the bottom of their fridge for months or for weeks, “ Moore says.  “And how nutritious is that?"

To make sure you don't waste food, cut up your fresh ingredients so they're ready to go.

"Or, you can get your kids involved.” Moore says. “Because a lot of times they like chopping things up, too.  They like mixing things up."

A lot of us are short on time.  So, Moore says, stock up on items that can be used in several different dishes.  When you have down time, use it to prep meals for the week to come.

"So that you cook once, clean once and you eat throughout the week,” Moore says.

 Finally, choose recipes you can freeze and enjoy later.      

"And those are major timesavers: soups, stews, chilis, pastas.” Moore says. “All those work really well."

If you’re trying to lose weight, watch your portion sizes.  Your meat portion should only be about the size of a deck of cards.  Fill the rest of your plate with those healthy vegetables and whole grains you loaded up on at the store.