Meal planning tips for your Memorial Day weekend barbecue

Memorial Day is right around the corner and by many it is considered the first official holiday of the summer season.

As you’re making plans for this three day weekend your first priority is to focus on healthy meals. Holidays shouldn’t be an excuse to eat anything and everything.

Here are some tips from Michigan State University Extension to help plan a healthy, nutritious barbecue or picnic for the first weekend of the summer:

  • Start with My Plate. Viewing My Plate will show that a well-balanced meal should look like a dinner plate that’s divided into four sections. Each section contains a portion of protein, grain, vegetable and fruit with an additional serving from the dairy group.
  • Think lean when it comes to protein. Lean cuts of beef and pork will have the term “loin” as part of their name. Less tender cuts of beef, which also tend to be lower in fat, benefit from marinating. Marinating protein whether beef, pork or poultry not only helps tenderize less tender cuts, but also adds great flavor. So break out the grill for that first barbecued meal of the season.
  • Vegetables are versatile when it comes to preparation methods. They can be served raw, cooked or combined into tasty salads. When grilling meat, consider adding veggies to the grill near the end of the cooking time for great tasting grilled vegetables. Vegetables also add color to your meal. Remember —every color is a different nutrient that adds to your health!
  • Fruits are another way to add some color and yummy flavor. Have you ever tried grilling fruit? Grilled fruits such as pineapple and peaches are great by themselves or cut up into bite sized pieces and served as a topping over ice-cream or angel food cake for an easy dessert.
  • The fourth section of your plate is for grains. Choosing whole grains for your meal can be as simple as adding whole grain buns for grilled hamburgers or making a brown rice or quinoa veggie salad as a side dish. Remember that corn is not only a vegetable but a whole grain and in many parts of the country sweet corn is making its first appearance. Corn can also be grilled, served as a side dish or added to salsa or salads.
  • Add a serving from the dairy group and you’re finished. A serving of dairy can be as simple as a glass of milk, cheese added to salads or side dishes, yogurt based dips for appetizers or ice-cream for dessert.

Make your Memorial Day meals healthy and fun! Try something new or fix an old favorite in a new way. By planning meals ahead of time you’ll save time, money and know that what you’re serving family and friends is not only tasty, but healthy for them too.

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