Selecting Healthful Foods For Supper

The evening meal is often the only time of the day when the family sits down together. Unfortunately, a leisurely supper usually gives way to evening demands such as a school meeting, a child’s soccer game, or your own “home work.” Sometimes the very thought of preparing a nutritious supper seems overwhelming after a hectic day.

However, with a little planning, you can still eat well. If possible, make time for supper. The evening meal is often the main meal of the day. It therefore can go a long way to ensure that you get all of your daily nutrient requirements. In addition, a satisfying supper decreases your chances of eating an unplanned after-supper snack.

Try to incorporate food from each food group into your evening meal. Make an effort to eat more plant-based foods. These nicely complement smaller servings of lean meats and low-fat dairy products. Try cuisine from other parts of the world—particularly those that feature grains, vegetables, and fruits as the centerpiece of the meal.

Make your meals interesting by varying the colors, textures, and shapes of foods. You do not have to be a great chef to give supper the visual appeal that everyone wants to eat. Fruits and vegetables add color and all the vitamins, minerals, and fiber your body needs.

Breads come in a broad variety of shapes and textures— from long, thin French baguettes to braided challah bread to the blackest of pumpernickels. The same goes for pasta. In addition to your usual favorites, try whole-wheat spaghetti, farfalle (bow-tie), fusilli (little springs), orzo (rice-shaped), or ziti (large tubes).

For more color, try spinach or tomato-flavored (and colored) pastas. Instead of plain white rice, try basmati, jasmine rice, or nutrient-rich brown rice. Wild rice (not really a “rice” but a seed from a type of grass) adds both crunch and a nutty flavor to a meal. Instead of red meat, eat fish and poultry more often.

Seafood cases are stocked with a wide variety of fish fillets and “steaks” from around the world. In addition to domestic chicken or turkey, poultry choices include wild game birds and small “hens.”

When you choose a red meat, eat a lean cut and vary the seasonings. Try to have some meatless meals. A supper containing legumes, beans, and other vegetarian fare is high in protein and low in saturated fat.

Top off the evening meal with fresh fruit and a selection of low-fat cheese, a fresh whole-grain cake, frozen low-fat yogurt, ice cream, or sherbet. A fine wine, a cup of cafĂ© au lait, and a delicious dessert, if part of the day’s meal plan, can nicely complement a well-prepared and well-presented meal.

Evening meals can be quick and yet still contain the freshest of ingredients. Keep in mind that fruits and vegetables are tasty, nutritious, and easy to prepare. Quick but healthful suppers can be made from carefully selected dried, canned, frozen, or bottled foods.

Plan to eat leftovers at times when you know you won’t have time to cook. Cooking more when you are able, freezing a portion or two, and having it on hand when time is tight all can help you avoid skipping supper or grabbing something that you know you should not eat.