Plotting out a week of meals keeps nutrition on a busy agenda


May 17, 1994|By Colleen Pierre, R.D. | Colleen Pierre, R.D.,Special to The Sun

These are the times that try women's diets. Long, lemony yellow days invite us to linger outside . . . to relax, unwind, slow the pace. But final projects and papers are due, exams are pending, weddings and graduations demand buying new clothes and gifts and planning parties, on top of already hectic schedules. In between, dance recitals and little league games vie for our attention.

All those good resolutions about healthy eating and good nutrition tend to get lost in the shuffle now. But healthy eating tends to keep us glued together during tough times. So take advantage of all the better-than-ever choices available from your grocery and fast food shops.

To save time, make a list of the supplies you'll need, then make one shopping trip. Use your salad bar for salad, and for stir-fry ingredients for meals early in the week. And pick up prepared fresh fruit for dessert while you're there.

Buy prepackaged, ready-cut vegetable sticks to toss into lunch bags. Nibble some while you're making dinner. Use them as evening snacks. Pack them up with a bag of apples, oranges and bananas to round out a post-game burger meal.

For real convenience, keep a supply of vegetable combinations in your freezer. Frozen vegetables have all the same vitamins and minerals as fresh, because they're quickly processed close to where they're grown. Pop them into the microwave when you want tender-crisp hot veggies. Or just thaw them under running water for a quick salad.

Experiment with frozen stir-fry combinations of vegetables and rice. Just add a little lean meat, chicken or seafood for a quicker than drive-thru dinner. Or try the vegetable and pasta combinations. They even come with their own sauce packet.

For fast food, order the smallest burger, a side salad with lowfat dressing, fruit juice and lowfat milk for a quick-to-go meal that adds to your nutrition, not your waistline.

Keep a supply of shelf-stable foods in your desk drawer at work. They'll bail you out when lunch packing is impossible.

* For protein, iron, calcium and B vitamins, stash mini-pop-top cans of tuna, white meat chicken or vegetarian beans. Love a hot lunch? Try Hormel's Top Shelf Spaghetti with meat sauce if your office has a microwave. For only 240 calories and 5 grams of fat, you'll get 10 percent of your vitamin A, 6 percent of your calcium, 15 percent of your iron, and 3 grams of fiber.

* For half your vitamin C and beta carotene for the day, keep 6 ounce cans of vegetable juice or apricot nectar. For 100 percent of your vitamin C, try Apple and Eve boxed juices or individual containers of natural applesauce. To add fiber, try mini-cans of pears in light syrup or individually wrapped Fig Newtons.

* To get some of your grains for the day, store breadsticks from the salad bar or little boxes of pretzels. For a whole grain treat, try Spicer's Hunger Crunchers. They're made with whole wheat and corn bran and come in three flavors.

And, remember, you can improve the nutritional quality of any meal instantly by adding a glass of skim milk, a carton of yogurt, or a piece of fresh fruit.

Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center and Vanderhorst & Associates in Baltimore.

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