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Ask Food: Planning makes dinners easier

Published December 29. 2010 05:00PM

Q: When I get home from work I need to get dinner on the table pretty quickly. How can I made this process easier?

A: Sit down once a week and make a menu. Not only will you avoid stress, but you'll have the satisfaction of knowing your meals will be tasty and healthy. Here are our top meal-planning tips:

• Bookmark recipes you plan to use and put them in a visible place.

• Vary your menu by making a few favorite dishes that you're comfortable with and a few that are new.

• If you want leftovers, plan ahead. Roasting a chicken? Pop in a second one for sandwiches and salads. Make a double batch of soup and freeze half.

• Plan your menu around quick-cooking cuts of meat and poultry like cutlets, chops and fillets.

• Precut fruits and vegetables are great for stir-fries, quick side dishes and desserts. They are a time saver when you want to get dinner on the table fast.

• Choose convenience products wisely: take a moment to read labels for calories, fats, and sodium.

• Embrace frozen fruits and vegetables. Frozen fruit is great for making morning smoothies and fruit crisps for dessert, while frozen vegetables can be cooked up for side dishes or thrown into pasta.

• Be flexible. If the green beans at the store look withered, buy that beautiful broccoli instead.

Courtesy Eating Well on foodnetwork.com.

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