vakis boutsalis/for metro toronto


Using packaged products, such as frozen vegetables and pre-made salads, can save time.


For anyone who thinks they just don’t have enough time to eat healthy, it’s time to plan ahead. And there’s no time like the present to be planning healthy meals, as the Dietitians Of Canada’s National Nutrition Month begins today.

“If you know it’s going to be a super busy week, take some time on the weekend to go to the grocery store and buy healthy portable food that will help you save time,” says Sue Mah, a registered dietitian in Toronto who says she understands how a busy lifestyle can lead to making poor food choices.

“It’s a realistic excuse, these days. The whole idea of 24/7 and trying to keep up with technology, e-mail, cell-phones ... people are really truly pressed for time.”

To help cope with the stresses of balancing a healthy lifestyle against a busy schedule, Canada’s Food Guide has its own tips that are all related to planning.

A calendar, for one, can help map out your meal plans for the coming week, and going to the grocery store to stock up on the necessary ingredients will cut preparation time.

Also, cooking more food than needed and freezing the leftovers will give you another healthy meal that’s ready and waiting to be eaten.

“It’s a great way to save time,” says Mah, who agrees with the food guide’s suggestion, adding, “There is nothing wrong with freezing as long as it’s done right.”

In order to make sure the leftovers don’t lose any of their nutritional value, Mah says the food should be properly sealed before placing it into the freezer.

“What I like to do is to keep a chart on the fridge listing everything that is in the freezer and when it was put there,” she says.

Other suggestions listed in the food guide include getting the family involved with cooking — a Post-It note can let others know what’s for dinner, allowing them to get started on the preparations — and using canned and packaged products, such as tomato sauce or frozen vegetables, that are both healthy and convenient to use.

The food guide even lists a series of recipes for healthy, quick meals throughout the day, including a breakfast shake and steamed fish (see recipes at left).

daily intake recommendations

The Canada Food Guide has adjusted its recommended daily intake suggestions as follows:

  • Women, ages 19-50: 7-8 vegetables and fruits; 6-7 grain products; 2 milk and alternatives; and 2 meat and alternatives.

  • Men, ages 19-50: 8-10 vegetables and fruits; 8 grain products; 2 milk and alternatives; and 3 meat and alternatives.

Breakfast shake


  • 125 ml of 100 per cent fruit juice

  • 125 ml fresh or frozen fruit

  • 175 g fruit-flavoured yogurt

  • 15 ml skim milk powder


  • Mix all ingredients in blender and serve.

Steamed fish plate


  • 1 piece boneless fish (your preference)

  • 250 ml broccoli, green beans or asparagus

  • 250 ml brown rice


  • Place fish and vegetables into steamer. Cover and cook for 5-6 minutes. Serve with rice.