In the middle of the month, you’ll start to see a lot of colorful flyers in your mailbox, advertising the annual Tomato Festival in town. You may not be feeling particularly excited about this festival at the moment, as you’re probably still nursing your wounds from last year’s cancellation of the Brussels Cherry Blossom Festival. However, the colored flyers will make you rethink your plan for the summer, as they will herald the arrival of the tomato season. Before you know it, the days will be getting longer, the sunlight brighter, and you’ll be longing to venture into town to get your hands on some fresh local produce. Now is the perfect opportunity to transform your home food storage into a delicious and nutritious summer meal plan, without breaking the bank! Let’s get started.
To get started, you’ll need to acquire the following groceries. These are the basics you need to have in your home to prepare any kind of healthy meal:
These foods are crucial for your health, and you should have them in your fridge or freezer at all times. You should also make sure to have a good variety of them, so you can choose a balanced meal whenever you cook. In addition to these essentials, you may want to consider purchasing some of the following luxury items:
- Baked Beans
- Dried fruit
- Red Wine
Now that you have your groceries, you can sit down with a pen and paper and begin to plan out a meal plan for the summer. There are three stages to this process:
- First, make a list of all of the meals you will be able to make this summer. This will be a lot easier if you have a couple of days to spare. You can make a rough plan based on what you already have in your fridge, and cross off the ones you cannot prepare. This may take you some time, so be patient.
- Once you have your list, go through it and eliminate any repeated meals. You don’t want to plan to cook the same thing every single day, as this will get dull quickly.
- Now that you have your list, begin shopping for the ingredients. You may find that some of the items are harder to source than you think. For example, you might want to ask a friend who lives in Europe if they can get you some Brussels sprouts, as they are not readily available in North America. If you run into any trouble, take a trip to the shop to get what you need. If possible, get ready meals that are already prepared. This will save you both time and effort, not to mention the calories you’ll save by cooking food yourself.
The morning meal is a crucial part of any diet, and something to look forward to. Studies show that having a healthy breakfast can help you lose weight. In the summertime, your body is still cold, and you’ll need something warm to satisfy your hunger. You could prepare one of the following morning meals:
- Steel-cut oats with berries
- Frozen fruit salad
- Poached eggs on a bed of spinach
- Mixed nuts and seeds
- Fragrant rice cake with poached eggs
- Brown rice with lentils
- Steel-cut oats with apples
Any of these options will keep you satisfied for many hours, and prevent you from reaching for snacks later in the day. In addition to satisfying your hunger, these breakfasts are good for your health. Studies have shown that eating fresh fruit and vegetables can improve your health, and help you fight off diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. By getting your nutrients from fresh foods, you will be doing your body some favor, and it will thank you for it!
The midday meal is usually the largest of the day, and should consist of plenty of food, so you can stay satisfied. This is the time to prepare a meal that will fuel your workouts for the day, and leave you feeling energized. You could prepare one of the following:
- Fresh fruit salad with almonds
- Pasta with vegetable Bolognese
- Chicken wrap with hummus
- Pita stuffed with potato and herb salad
- Tasty pork sandwiches
- Quinoa and lentil salad
- Hake fish with lemon pasta
- Pasta with fresh tomato and basil
- Grilled chicken strips with spicy Spanish chorizo
Any of these options will provide your body with high-quality nutrients, and give you the energy to face the day. What’s important is that you feel satisfied by the meal, and that you don’t need to snack afterwards. Snacking between meals can lead to weight gain, so make sure to avoid it.
Dinner should be something light to satisfy your appetite after a long day, and prepare you for sleep. Some people prefer to prepare a large salad for dinner, as it can be a bit lighter than other options. You could prepare one of the following:
- Fruit and nut salad
- Grilled chicken with spicy chilis and couscous
- Salad with spicy chicken and sun-dried tomatoes
- Tropical fruit and nut salad
- Red lentil and veggie burger
- Grilled fish with mango salsa
- Baked potato with herb salsa
- Hake fish with lemon pasta
The important thing is that you have a meal that satisfies your appetite, and does not leave you thinking about snacks later on. You may not lose a pound a day, but you will certainly feel more satisfied with your meals if you prepare them healthily and deliberately.
The foods that you’ll need to acquire for the plan are available in supermarkets. You may want to consider purchasing some of the following items in addition to what’s listed above:
- Brown rice
- Baked beans
- Artichoke hearts
As we’ve discussed, variety is the key to a healthy diet. In the same way that you want to make sure that you have a wide variety of vegetables in your garden all year long, make sure to always have varied dishes in your fridge and freezer. With a little planning and preparation, you will be able to satisfy your appetite and stay healthy in the summertime!