Meal Plan Created By: Amanda Kostro Miller
Adding variety to your diet is a great way to support a healthy lifestyle. Trying new foods can help you get more nutrients and may help you eat a more balanced diet.1,2 Plus, it’s just plain fun to break out of your rut and try new things. So, if you’re sick of eating the same thing day in and day out, we’ve got you covered. To help you add variety into your diet and experiment with more nutrient-dense foods, we’re celebrating 12 months of healthy eating. Each month, we’re featuring a new twist on good-for-you foods. Not only will you receive a new mouthwatering challenge, but you’ll also find a free, weeklong meal plan created by a Registered Dietician to help you turn ambition into reality.
Related: 5 Ways To Meal Plan Smarter
This month, we’re featuring heart-healthy 3-5 ingredient meals. We know that simplicity is key when it comes to making healthy eating approachable. With fewer ingredients, you can cut down on prep time while still experiencing the benefits of home-cooked meals.
Download The Printable Meal Plan
Benefits Of 3-5 Ingredient Meals
Decrease Prep Time
Since the 1960s, Americans have shifted towards prepared foods, dining out, and fast food.3,4 One of the most often-cited barriers preventing people from preparing home-cooked meals is lack of time.5,6,7 Focusing on making meals with just a few ingredients can help you create nutritious meals without spending hours in the kitchen. Your prep time will decrease since you’re not chopping, measuring, or mixing dozens of components. Plus, you’ll also save time in the grocery store since your list will be shorter.
Related: 6 Easy Food Swaps To Be More Heart-healthy
Dining out, buying fast food, or purchasing lots of prepared meals can add up. People who cook at home tend to spend less money on food overall, and limiting ingredients to just 3-5 per meal can add up to even more savings.8 Since you have fewer ingredients to buy, you’ll save at the grocery store. Once you get home, the savings continue - with fewer ingredients to work with, there’s less food that can go to waste, helping you ensure you only buy what you will eat.
Experience The Health Benefits of Home Cooked Meals
Research shows that individuals who eat more home-cooked meals tend to eat higher-quality food, consume less calories overall, and tend to gain less weight over time than those who regularly eat out or eat prepared meals.8
Healthy Recipes For 3-5 Ingredient Meals
Looking for simple, heart-healthy recipes you can cook at home? We partnered with a registered dietician to bring you a full week’s worth of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. Each meal has no more than 5 good-for-you components and mouth-watering flavors. From a breakfast casserole to a slow cooker veggie pot pie and everything in between, this meal plan may become your new go-to!
Want even more heart-healthy recipes? Download our cookbook with 12 ideas for quick, healthy dinners!
3 Guthrie J, Lin B, Frazao E. Role of Food Prepared Away from Home in the American Diet, 1977–78 versus 1994–96: Changes and Consequences. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2002;34:140–150. doi: 10.1016/S1499-4046(06)60083-3.
4 French S, Harnack L, Jeffery R. Fast food restaurant use among women in the Pound of Prevention study: dietary, behavioral and demographic correlates. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2000;24:1353–1359. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0801429.
5 Larson NI, Perry CL, Story M, Neumark-Sztainer D. Food preparation by young adults is associated with better diet quality. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006;106:2001–2007. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2006.09.008.
6 Asp E. Factors affecting food decisions made by individual consumers. Food Policy. 1999;24:287–294. doi: 10.1016/S0306-9192(99)00024-X.
7 Share our Strength. It's Dinnertime: A Report on Low-Income Families' Efforts on Plan, Shop for and Cook Healthy. Share our Strength's Cooking Matters. 2012. pp. 1–54. (Insight A)
8 Wolfson JA, Bleich SN. Is cooking at home associated with better diet quality or weight-loss intention? Public Health Nutr. 2015;18:1397-1406.