Healthy Eating on the Run (FN1474, Revised Oct. 2019)

Imagine you are planning your grocery list. You know you have limited time to prepare meals and snacks each day. Many people struggle to make healthful food choices with today´s busy schedules. From Cooking 101 (Week 3) Quick and Easy Menus, Recipes and Tips for Singles and Couples

Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Nutrition Education in the Community Students (2010): Joan Nagel, Student Dietitian, Lead student writer; Leah Gramlow, Student Dietitian; Katie Myrold, Student Dietitian

Availability: Web only

From Cooking 101 (Week 3) Quick and Easy Menus, Recipes and Tips for Singles and Couples

Cost and the amount of time you have to cook probably affect what you decide to eat. Think about nutrition, too. Food provides your body with the energy it needs to function and the nutrients it needs to perform well.

Pop Quiz:

What do you know already?

1. True or False: You can enter your daily diet and have its nutritional content analyzed.

2. True or False: Every person needs the same amount of calories, nutrients and physical activity to maintain health.

3. True or False: You will have the most bone mass when you are in your late teens to early 20s.

4. Which of the following vitamins helps your body absorb iron?

a. Vitamin A
b. Vitamin B
c. Vitamin C
d. Vitamin K

5. What is the daily recommended amount of iron for women in milligrams (mg)?

a. 9 mg
b. 18 mg
c. 31 mg
d. 43 mg

6. True or False: A diet high in fiber can lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk for certain diseases.

 Answers: 1. True 2. False 3. True 4. c  5. b  6. True

MyPlate, Your New Best Friend

Remember learning in elementary school about a food pyramid that was shaped, well, like a pyramid? The rules for following this pyramid were easy: Eat the most from foods on the bottom and eat the least from foods on the top. Everyone, regardless of gender, size or activity level, had the same pyramid.

The latest diet advice is arranged with a new food icon called MyPlate. It shows the different proportions for each food group and is based on individuals’ needs. Check out to learn what your food needs are These are just a few of the cool interactive tools this site provides:

  • MyPlate Daily Food Plan: Find out how many calories and how many servings of each food group you should be eating each day.
  • Printable materials
  • Seasonal resources
  • Quizzes about MyPlate food groups
  • Videos
  • Recipes



The Neglected Nutrients

Imagine you are planning your grocery list. You know you have limited time to prepare meals and snacks each day.

Many people struggle to make healthful food choices with today´s busy schedules. The following is a list of some very important but often neglected nutrients for good health. See the ways to add foods rich in these nutrients to your menus:

Calcium: Calcium helps build strong bones, and peak bone mass is reached by age 30. Good calcium intake now can help lower the chances of developing osteoporosis, a bone disease that makes bones more likely to break. And not only is calcium good for bone health, it also can help the body by aiding in blood clotting and nerve and muscle function. Milk, cheese and yogurt are great sources of calcium. Males and females ages 19 to 30 should aim for 1,000 milligrams daily to reach the recommend amounts.

Iron: Iron helps support growth and moves oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Iron is found in lean meats and iron-fortified cereals, so start the day with an iron-fortified cereal and glass of orange juice or an orange. The vitamin C found in orange juice helps your body absorb the iron so it can be used. Try to have lean meats or dark leafy greens for lunch and dinner to reach the 18 milligrams of iron recommended for women and 8 milligrams for men.

Fiber: Fiber is important for the digestive system. Some types of fiber also can help lower cholesterol and prevent disease. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, so enjoy more whole-grain products and try swapping high-fat snack foods with apples, carrots or any other favorite fruits and vegetables. Women should try to get 25 grams of fiber daily and men should aim for 38 grams.

 Weekly Menu Planner

Grocery List

Read through the recipes and check your supplies to see what and how much you need.

To save money, compare unit prices (price per ounce) on the store shelving.


  • 1 package whole-wheat bagels (6)
  • 1 box spaghetti
  • 1 box instant brown rice
  • 1 package whole-wheat tortilla shells
  • Whole-wheat pretzels
  • 1 box of cereal (preferably whole grain)
  • 1 package of granola bars


  • Bag of romaine lettuce
  • 1 package fresh stir-fry vegetables
  • 1 package frozen vegetables
  • 1 bag baby carrots
  • 1 bag celery
  • 1 jar (or can) spaghetti sauce
  • 1 jar salsa


  • 5 apples of choice
  • 4 bananas
  • 1 bag of grapes
  • 5 oranges


  • 1 gallon (or more) skim milk
  • 1 bag shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 containers of low-fat or fat-free yogurt (flavor of choice)

Meat/other protein foods

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 bag frozen chicken breasts
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 1 container peanut butter
  • Deli turkey

Canned/dry goods, etc.

  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 2 cans low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (with roasted garlic)
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Salad dressing (such as Ranch dressing)
  • Cooking spray


Key to Abbreviations

tsp. = teaspoon                              pkg. = package
Tbsp. = tablespoon                         g = grams
c. = cup                                         mg = milligrams
oz. = ounce                                    lb. = pound

Quick Tip

Freeze leftovers in air-tight containers in meal-size amounts.

Easy Spaghetti

1 lb. ground beef
1 jar spaghetti sauce
½ box of dry spaghetti noodles (preferably whole wheat)

Prepare the pasta as the package indicates. While noodles are cooking, brown the beef in a skillet and drain excess oil when done. Add the spaghetti sauce to beef and let simmer for 10 minutes. Top pasta with spaghetti sauce to serve.

Makes six servings. Per serving: 210 calories, 5 g fat, 26 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 680 mg sodium

Bagel Pizza

1 wheat bagel
2 Tbsp. spaghetti sauce
¼ c. shredded cheese

Cut the bagel in half. Spread each half with 1 tablespoon spaghetti sauce

Top with cheese. Microwave on high, uncovered, one to 1½ minutes or until cheese is melted.

Makes one serving. Per serving: 310 calories, 12 g fat, 42 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 390 mg sodium

Chicken Stir-fry

4 small chicken breasts
1 pkg. stir-fry vegetables
Cooking spray
¼-½ c. teriyaki sauce (reduced-sodium)
2 c. brown rice

Prepare the brown rice as the package indicates. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. While the rice is cooking, add cooking spray to the skillet and cook the chicken. When chicken is fully cooked, add the package of vegetables to the pan. Add sauce to the vegetables and chicken when vegetables are tender. Serve the chicken and vegetables over brown rice.

Makes four servings. Per serving: 330 calories, 3 g fat, 44 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 400 mg sodium

Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

2 c. cooked chicken, chopped
1½ c. frozen vegetables (carrots, peas, onions, whatever you like)
2 14-oz. cans low-sodium chicken broth
1 11-oz. can condensed cream of mushroom soup (with roasted garlic)
Salt and pepper to taste
½ tsp. thyme
1 c. pasta of choice

Cut the chicken breast into small pieces. Place chicken into slow cooker with the carrots, onions and peas. Stir in the broth and mushroom soup. Season with pepper and salt. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for three to four hours or on low for eight to nine hours. To maintain high-quality pasta, cook the pasta in a separate pan on the stove and stir in cooked pasta five minutes before the soup is ready to serve. Serve with whole-wheat crackers.

Makes four servings. Per serving: 290 calories, 3.5 g fat, 34 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 1,190 mg sodium

Peanut Butter Rolls

1 whole-wheat tortilla
2 Tbsp. peanut butter
1 banana

Coat the middle of the tortilla with the peanut butter. Place the peeled banana on top of the tortilla. Fold the tortilla into a wrap shape and cut into small pieces resembling sushi rolls. Serve immediately.

Makes one serving. Per serving: 450 calories, 20 g fat, 61 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 320 mg sodium

Ground Beef Tacos

1 lb. ground beef
Cooking spray
1 pkg. taco seasoning
4 whole-wheat tortillas
½ c. lettuce
½ c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 c. salsa

Coat the skillet with cooking spray. Thoroughly cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the taco seasoning packet to the beef according to the directions of package. In a warm taco shell, add beef, salsa, lettuce and cheese.

Makes four servings. Per serving: 450 calories, 18 g fat, 33 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 1,190 mg sodium

Eat Smart. Play Hard. Together.

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