Healthy Meals Made Easy – Introducing The Healthy Dinners Toolbox

You want to eat healthier. You want to cook more often. And you want to serve easy, healthy meals to your family most nights of the week. But your schedule gets in the way and you struggle to find the time.

Maybe you set a goal for this year to eat more healthy meals. Maybe you started the year strong but then, life got in the way.

If that sounds frustratingly familiar (it does to me!), here’s something that can help – the P3S Method. It’s an approach to cooking that I developed for getting easy, healthy, and delicious family dinners on the table with minimal effort or stress. I explain it in detail in The Healthy Dinners Toolbox, my new mini-course that includes a workbook, 4 short videos, and a no-recipe guide to healthy dinners. But I’m going to give you the basics of it right here!

The P3S Method stands for Plan, Prep, Prepare, and Save. These are the 4 tools you’re going to use every week to cook and serve healthy dinners regularly. Here’s how they work, and how you can make them work for you:

  • Plan – This is the tool on which all the other tools in The Healthy Dinners Toolbox depend. So don’t be tempted to skip it – put it on your calendar at a set time every week (I like to do it on Friday). This takes 15-30 minutes (and you’ll get faster at it the more often you do it). Start by looking at your calendar for the upcoming week – work, school, sports, and other activities. Then pick the 4 nights during the week when you can most easily make a healthy family dinner. (Hang tight – this doesn’t mean cooking from scratch on all 4 nights!) Your plan can include nights when everyone will be home for dinner and nights when family members may be coming and going. Then, decide what healthy dinners you’ll make on those nights – a Crockpot meal, a meal from the freezer that you thaw during the day, or a quick meal you can make easily when you get home – depending on your schedule that day. Finally, make your grocery list for the week, making sure to include the ingredients you’ll need for your 4 healthy dinners plus other food you’ll need for the week. (The Healthy Dinners Toolbox includes some tips for making your grocery shopping faster, easier, and more efficient.)
  • Prep – Okay, don’t picture a fancy food prep reel on Instagram, because this ain’t that! This kind of prep is a super simple step you’re going to take once a week to make it easier to serve 4 healthy family dinners next week. Here’s what you’re going to do:
    • 1) Make a commitment to prep food for 1 hour once a week (generally on Saturday or Sunday). Treat this time as an appointment and put it on your calendar.
    • 2) During that hour, focus only on doing things that will make it easier and less stressful for you to serve healthy dinners next week (not lunch prep, not snack prep, although you can certainly take extra time to do those). What should you do during that hour? You have lots of options, depending on your meal plan for the week. You might wash and cut up vegetables for salad or stir fry, chop onions, grate cheese, bake chicken breasts, make a batch of soup or spaghetti sauce, cook ground beef, or roast vegetables. Or anything else that will make it easier and less stressful for you to serve 4 healthy dinners next week.
  • Prepare – This is the tool that involves getting your healthy dinner ready and serving it to your family. I could have called this tool “Cook,” but sometimes it won’t actually involve cooking. So what does Prepare look like? Some days it will involve serving a meal that’s been cooking in your Crockpot all day. Some days it will involve heating and serving a meal that you’ve cooked and refrigerated during your Prep session. Some days it will involve serving a meal that you’ve pulled out of your freezer, thawed, and heated. And some days, when you have a little more time, it will involve cooking an easy, healthy dinner when you get home in the evening. It all depends on your schedule – which you took into account when you used the Plan tool and made a meal plan for the week based on your schedule for the week.
  • Save – I love all of the tools in the P3S Method, but I may love Save the most! Why? Because this is the tool that, over time, will make it easier and easier for you to serve healthy dinners most nights of the week. “Save” simply means to prep or cook twice as much as you need whenever possible and freeze half for later. This is an easy way to stock your freezer with meal ingredients and entire meals, without having to do an elaborate freezer prep day. (I have done that, and it’s exhausting!) I call it the “2 for 1” tool because you get twice the benefit for almost no additional effort, and it can work with dozens of ingredients and meals. For example, you can –
    • Chop twice as many onions and/or peppers as you need and freeze half.
    • Grate twice as much cheese as you need and freeze half.
    • Cook a double batch of soup, chili, taco meat, or spaghetti sauce and freeze half.
    • Cook twice as many chicken breasts as you need and freeze half.
    • Make a double batch of pizza dough and freeze half.
    • The possibilities are endless! Right now I have in my freezer a batch of butternut squash soup, the ingredients for vegetable beef soup, chopped peppers and onions, cooked lentils, cooked beef for stir fry, cooked chicken breasts, and grated cheese – all ready and waiting to make my life in the evenings a little bit easier!

So those are the tools of the P3S Method – Plan, Prep, Prepare, and Save. If you’re struggling to find the time to eat healthy and, in particular, to cook and serve healthy family dinners, I encourage you to put the tools to work for you. Make a commitment to try them for 4 weeks and see what happens. And if you want more detail on how to implement the tools, plus tips on making them work for you, tips for making the whole process easier, a workbook, 4 short how-to videos, and a no-recipe guide to healthy family meals, check out The Healthy Dinners Toolbox. As a friend of The Healthy Life Toolbox, you can get 50% off the regular price of $19 by using the code FRIEND50 at checkout.

Try it and let me know how it works for you. Comment below or email me at hello @ healthylifetoolbox.com


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