I'd like to share a tip with you that's helped me and my family. I've discovered a little organized food preparation can make all the difference in establishing healthy eating habits.

To be successful at it, you'll need to set aside one or two evenings a week to plan menus and make shopping lists. It's crucial to stock your refrigerator with healthy foods. On hand, ready-to-eat, healthy foods are a great weapon to use against snack attacks, last-minute, lunch-packing predicaments, and the "What's for dinner?" dilemma.

If you or your spouse come home completely famished, you're probably not going to take time to chop up raw veggies. And if there is no fresh fruit available, your children will probably grab chips or cookies instead. Keeping healthy choices available is extremely important in the process of creating a healthier lifestyle.

To avoid getting bored with the same foods, cut up some fresh cantaloupe, honeydew, blueberries, and strawberries one week, and alternate grapes, apples, pineapple, and watermelon the next.

For an extra splash, top a fruit salad with a dab of strawberry yogurt. Try to keep sliced carrots, celery, and some red and green peppers ready for dipping. Roll up some turkey slices to add a little protein to your snacks. Here are some additional snacking suggestions to get you on the right track.

10 Easy Snack Favorites

Most of these snacks can be easily packed in lunch boxes. Others, you may just want to have on hand for after work or school.
  1. Apple slices and two teaspoons of peanut butter for delicious dipping.
  2. One whole-wheat tortilla packed with turkey and low fat cheese. Pop it in the microwave until cheese is melted.
  3. Applesauce
  4. A frozen banana
  5. Pickles. I absolutely love munching on a huge dill pickle. Because of the sodium, I make it an occasional snack. It's also a great substitute for high-fat popcorn at the movies.
  6. Apple slices and a strip of low-fat mozzarella string cheese
  7. Low-fat microwave popcorn
  8. A handful of pretzels and raisins
  9. Baked chips with salsa
  10. Tuna salad made with low-fat mayo and dill pickle relish atop Melba toast
I must confess that cooking is not one of my favorite activities. Actually, it's not just the cooking I find challenging, but the meal planning; grocery shopping; table setting; getting everyone to the table while keeping the food hot; and the kitchen cleaning that seem to take so much coordination.

I realized I was going to have to get more organized with my efforts when my husband asked me a few years ago, "Are you doing some kind of an experiment to see how long we can survive without going to the grocery store?" I took the hint.

No doubt there's still room for improvement, but I've made progress! We are rarely without fresh fruit, healthy snacks, organic milk, and a few home-cooked meals a week.

While it's my dream to have my own "private chef" to prepare wonderful, creative and healthy meals for my family (and to clean the kitchen afterward), in the meantime, I will continue to search for shortcuts to getting healthy food on the table.

First published in the Sept. 2004 issue of Believer's Voice Of Victory Magazine, (c) 2004 by Kenneth Copeland Ministries. Reprinted by permission.