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Work week eats: Meal ideas from Gwinnett Medical Center

Monday night you’re tired, Wednesday you’re on the go, and Friday night you’re ready to celebrate the weekend. Wouldn’t it be nice if your dinner menu moved with the rhythm of your week? With a little planning, it can. Here’s a guide to help:

Registered dietitians at Gwinnett Medical Center recommend meal planning and shopping on the weekend so you’ll be ready for the midweek crunch.

The weekend is over. Work deadlines await. And just thinking about the week’s demands makes you hit the snooze button. Again. And again.

RELAX. We’re about to make work week re-entry a little more palatable, at least at the dinner table.

REINVENT LEFTOVERS. “There are many ways to serve leftovers without eating the same meal every day,” says Cris Hartley, RD, LD, CDE, director, Diabetes & Nutrition Education Center at Gwinnett Medical Center. For dinner on Monday, reheat Sunday’s roasted chicken and serve it on whole-wheat buns with barbecue sauce. Or serve it over pasta with fresh veggies. Or shred it and make it into a casserole.

GO LIGHT. Maybe you’re feeling guilty from dining out all weekend and want a fresh start. Try grilled chicken or salmon on top of salad greens. Or leave a broth based soup to simmer in the Crock-Pot while you’re at the office.

By Hump Day, your mind is on the weekend, but your body has two more days to go. In fact, your spouse is working late, your son has basketball practice, and your daughter needs help with her algebra. You need a quick fix.

SHOP AHEAD. “This is no time to be grocery shopping after work,” Hartley says. It’s stressful and busy, plus you’ll end up buying junk. Instead, do meal planning and shopping on the weekend so you’ll be ready for this midweek crunch.

MAKE IT QUICK. Don’t attempt to cook an involved meal when you’re pressed for time; you’ll only set yourself up for failure. Try these 30-minute ideas: penne pasta tossed with frozen vegetables or chicken stir-fry with instant brown rice. If on-the-go is what you need, pack turkey wraps with sliced carrots and celery.

TGIF, baby—it’s time to celebrate! Whether you’re in the mood to stay home or hit the town, here are a few Friday foods to consider.

PICK PIZZA. Many people order pizza on Friday, but why not make your own? Some stores sell pizza dough in the bakery section. Add tomato sauce, low-fat cheese and your favorite vegetable toppings and, voila, you have a healthy Friday night meal—and a fun family tradition.

GO FOR THE GRILL. Whether it’s seafood, lean steaks or turkey sausages, firing up the grill is a great way to kick off the weekend. And don’t forget the veggies! Potatoes, corn, peppers and onions cook great on the grill—and mean no mess in the kitchen.

INDULGE A LITTLE. Without a big rush to finish homework or hit the hay, maybe it’s time to eat out. And if a less-than-healthy dish catches your eye, give yourself permission to indulge a little; after all, it’s Friday. “Just don’t overdo it,” Hartley says. After all, just like death and taxes, Monday is sure to come. Need Help With Meal Planning?

For healthy recipes that will please the whole family, visit For more comprehensive help with meal planning, the registered dietitians at the Diabetes & Nutrition Education Center at Gwinnett Medical Center can help you design a meal plan to meet your diet goals and your lifestyle. Your individualized plan can help you stay on track regardless of the situation. To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 678-312-6040.

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