Five Tips for Easier Autumn Meals

chef marshall o'brien with daughter

Over the past few weeks, my family has transitioned from summer mode into our autumn routine. It was a challenge because our autumn schedule is very different and I hear from others that they face the same issue. Yes, summer is busy, with its weekend outings, outdoor cooking and casual gatherings, but with kids in school, holidays on the far horizon and a busier, more rigid schedule, the fall season requires a different approach. The good news is that people can get their lives back on track and reduce their stress levels by making some simple changes that have worked for me.

  • Plan your menus ahead of time and cook on weekends. This means fewer trips to the grocery store and less food waste. I make meals in bulk, and prep foods that can be easily assembled to eat during the week, when there are frequently evening activities and time is short. I cook extra chicken breasts to use later in the week in another dish, chop enough vegetables for tomorrow’s salad and make sure I have cooked brown rice in the freezer.
  • Eat a nutritious breakfast. This is the single best thing you can do to ensure you have sustained energy throughout the day. Coffee and donuts are not the answer! Try our Mini Parmesan Kale Quiche or our Nutty Breakfast Rounds, which are great for days when you need to leave the house in a hurry. And make sure your children do this, too. They will learn better and be more focused in school.
  • For busy days when I’m either traveling or have a jam-packed schedule, I either bring nourishing lunches and snack foods with me or figure out ahead of time which food choices will help keep my energy high and my mind alert. I strive for a combination of lean protein, healthy fat and slow carbohydrates.
  • Review the school lunch menu with your children and have them help you prepare brown bag lunches for days they don’t care for the menu offerings. That way, they will learn what components should be included in a nutritious lunch.
  • Make sure you have hand fruit, veggies and dip or low-sugar yogurt available for afternoon snacks when kids are looking for an after-school boost to carry them till dinner. Children choose foods that are easy to grab, so feature the good stuff, rather than the fast carbs and bad fats found in most chips and cookies.

Autumn is the start of a very busy season, but planning and preparing ahead can ensure you have easy, nutritious meals available, minimize your mealtime stress and allow you and your family to feel and perform your best.

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