Spring has sprung and we’re enjoying warm weather and vibrant greenery all over Birmingham. Why not celebrate with a picnic? Kids and pets alike will love the freedom to run and play, while adults can catch up on sunshine and their friends’ lives. In honor of National Picnic Day, here are Market Table‘s picks for what every picnic basket needs.
Text By Annika Bastian
The kind of food you pack in your basket depends upon the time of your picnic outing. Is it a brunch picnic? (Yes, those exist, and they are just as awesome as they sound.) Is it a lunch picnic? An afternoon snack picnic? Picnics early in the day can feature inventive brunch options, like our scrumptious Spinach, Artichoke and Goat Cheese Frittata or an eggs-cellent sandwich tray.
If your outing falls around lunch, provide hearty deli style options, like White BBQ Chicken or Beef Brisket Sliders. Or, if you’re serving guests with wildly different tastes, check out our Light Lunchboxes. From Cilantro Lime Chicken to our Zesty Quinoa Salad, you’re sure to find healthy options to keep your whole picnic party happy.
And if you’re picnicking between meals, go for fun snack options — both sweet and savory. For larger picnics, invite everyone to bring one of their favorite snacks to make a potluck fun-in-the-sun picnic at the park.
There are a few things every picnic basket needs, but they may not be the first things on your mind. First, don’t forget to bring trash bags. You’ll want the leave the beautiful outdoor space that hosts your picnic as pristine as you found it. Next, make sure to include insulated water bottles among your drink selections. When it comes to hydration, there’s nothing like a cool bottle of water. Lastly, paper towels will come in handy to both hold food and to clean sticky fingers.
The perfect way to end your sweet day? With something sweet, of course! Dessert is a delicious must at any spring picnic. Often, you’ll find Farmer’s Markets with fresh food and tasty treats to bring a picnic from good to great. So make sure to pick up easy-to-eat desserts for a sweet finish to your fabulous outing. Market Table‘s Cookie and Marble Brownie Trays are picnic-basket-ready perfection!
Do you find yourself struggling to find a recipe at the last minute? Never seem to have what you need from the grocery store? Have no fear! Creating a weekly meal plan can make after-school evenings run much more smoothly!
Choose the Meals Your Family Loves
Start by making a list of all the meals and snacks your family likes to eat on a regular basis. Pro-tip: get some sticky tabs or magnets and write the name of each meal on a tab. Place them all in a notebook or on your refrigerator, spread out so that they’re easily accounted for. These meals will be the building blocks of a weekly meal plan for your family.
Chart It Up
If you went with sticky tabs, create a chart with a column for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Add rows for each day of the week. This layout allows you to easily account for each meal and snack you’ll be responsible for throughout the week. Although there are often occasions where you’ll go out to eat, it’s always better to have a plan that you stray from than to have no plan at all.
Organize the Days
Now, decide which meals should fall into which slot. When this process is completed, you should have a planned dish for every meal and snack throughout the week. When you get home from work, it’ll be so easy to just check the meal chart and start cooking. You also won’t have to worry about changing the meal halfway through preparation, as your family can see the meal plan. You can even collaborate on the plan before the week begins to avoid any arguments. As a bonus, this is an excellent way to teach the kids about balance and nutrition!
Check the Diet
Ever wondered if you’ve been giving your kids enough nutrients? This meal planning system makes it easy to keep your family’s diet (or, more often, diets) in check. You can easily outline and implement your family’s dietary needs with a structured meal plan. Also, seeing the meal plan spread out before you will make it easy to find places where leafy greens can be best disguised.
Shop and Prep
No more opening the fridge on a Wednesday night to find an empty milk carton! When you know what dishes you’ll be preparing a week ahead, you can easily buy everything you need from the grocery store in one go. Go through your meal chart and make a grocery list of all the items you’ll need for the week. After purchasing them, you can even prep for the meals ahead of time. Maybe a lot of your meals require chopped veggies or peeled fruit. Maybe you have to soak some lentils for another dish. Finishing the prep work for multiple meals once or twice a week is a huge time saver.
Of course, not everyone has time to meal prep or plan. That’s where Market Table comes in! Our freezer meals and prepared dishes offer options for the whole family — just pop them in the oven and have a healthy, delicious meal in no time. Stumped when it comes to lunch? We’ve got you covered there, too: you can pre-order and pick up our Light Lunchboxes, saving you time and sanity.
The days of packing peanut butter sandwiches, apples, and Capri Suns are over. Nowadays, it feels like every member of the fam wants something new and different from those old average lunches. Being creative can be easy — even when you’re packing lunches for the entire family. Here are five fabulous ideas for lunch-spiration.
Salads are a great option for take-away lunches. They aren’t prone to spoil, they don’t have to be microwaved, and they’re healthy more often than they aren’t. Even if your family is suspicious of salads, they’ll love this Edamame Power Salad. This recipe’s packed with super-healthy edamame and chickpeas — and it’s both gluten-free and vegan. The avocado lime dressing gives it a tangy twist. It’s so good the kids won’t even realize they’re eating a salad!
Pasta’s another dish that doesn’t necessarily have to be microwaved. Kids love pasta, so it’s an avenue to ease them into trying new ingredients. For example, this Sesame Ginger Soba Noodle Salad is packed with roasted veggies like bell peppers and asparagus. The zesty dressing pairs great with most vegetables, making this a catch-all option for what’s leftover in your fridge at the end of the week.
Of course, sandwiches are a classic lunch box option. They don’t have to be boring, however. If your family’s tired of peanut butter and jelly, try this Chicken, Sprouts, and Provolone Sandwich. It’s served on a sesame bagel that gets toasted in the oven. The crunch of the bean sprouts and the bagel pairs perfectly with soft chicken and melted provolone cheese. If your kids aren’t quite adventurous eaters yet, remember that cookie cutters can make any sandwich exciting! Our kiddos love these Hungry Hippos.
Sick of sandwiches? Try a wrap! With the right preparations, wraps are quick and easy. We love a Beef Shawarma Wrap. This wrap uses pita bread or flatbread and contains ingredients like beef, tahini, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and other sauces and spices. It’s the burrito’s delicious middle-eastern cousin. Plus, it’s a great source of protein and fiber.
If you’re feeling especially dedicated, try making bowls. Bowls offer endless combinations, which means endless possibilities for delicious lunches. Watching your weight? Try these clean eating bowls. Looking for something delicious, family-friendly, and moderately healthy? Try this Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowl (pro-tip: use brown rice for added fiber). Packed with protein, you can add a variety of vegetables depending on your preference. The sweet teriyaki sauce is sure to make this bowl a hit for your whole family.
Of course, everyone runs out of ideas from time to time. Or, you just might not have time to make lunchboxes every day. Why not try our Light Lunchboxes and let us do the work for you? You can pre-order lunches by Wednesday and pick them up on Sunday, or just come by and see what’s in the case! Follow us on Facebook to see what meals we’re packing for lunch each week.
Text by Martha Kendall Custard
You’ve probably seen posts about the Whole30 Diet circulating on social media. That’s because Whole30 encourages participants in the diet to share their stories. Not only does this keep them accountable, but it also helps them to find encouragement from fellow dieters. But what exactly is Whole30? And why is it all over your social media feeds?
What Is Whole30?
This program revolves around 30 days of clean eating. The program promises that if you try clean eating for just 30 days, it’ll change your relationship with food. According to Whole30, certain foods negatively impact your mental and physical health. Some of these food include sugar, grains, dairy and legumes. So, rather than counting calories, you simply focus on eating foods that are good for your health.
What Can I Eat?
There are pretty specific rules as to what you cannot eat. The number-one food group on the list is sugar, whether real or artificial — including substitutes like stevia and honey. The program also doesn’t allow for alcohol or tobacco. Grains, legumes, and dairy? Also not allowed. Don’t panic, though — that’s just for 30 days. If you feel stuck and unsure of what you can eat, Whole30 has a list of approved foods and brands, as well as their own meal plans.
What Are the Benefits?
This diet sounds a little extreme, but the program promises a vast variety of benefits. For one, it’s only 30 days to clean out your body and allow yourself to start fresh with a new mentality with food. After those 30 days, it’s not necessary to be as restrictive with your food choices, but you can keep the lessons learned from Whole30 in mind. Some of the benefits listed on Whole30’s website are weight loss, improvement to body composition, high energy levels, improved athletic performance, better sleep, improved focus andmental clarity, and a sunnier disposition.
If you’re struggling to get started on your Whole30 journey, you can try one of Market Table’s salads, Light Lunchboxes, or frittatas — just ask for it without cheese. We even have meal kits to help you cook healthy food at home. If you see anything else on the menu that looks good but doesn’t meet the Whole30 requirement, we can help you find a substitute.
Text by Katherine Polcari
What’s meal prepping? The idea is simple: you plan and prepare ingredients for the coming week’s meals. This could be as small as cutting veggies or as much as making a whole meal beforehand. It’s a simple and easy way to make meals effortless — and it’s easy to get started.
If you want to start meal prepping, planning is key. Put together recipes for the meals you want to eat this week. Make a list of the ingredients you’ll need. Go grocery shopping in advance, perhaps on a Saturday so there’s no pressure. Make sure you’re getting the most out of your ingredients. For instance, if you get a can of beans that’s more than one serving, try finding a good way to use the rest. This article offers ten options for leftover beans.
Cover the basics
Once you have recipes and ingredients, do as much in advance as you can. Cut vegetables, season meat and put whatever you can into food storage containers. A good rule of thumb: prepare the ingredients enough so that the actual meal only takes ten minutes to make. That way, you’re not taking up too much time or effort and you’re eating well. Ideally, you can just microwave one bowl and eat it. Sometimes that doesn’t work out, but as long as your meals are easier to make, then you’re benefiting from meal prepping.
Prep for your health
Prepping is a great way to make cooking easier, but also to make meals healthier. Try making a larger meal for lunch. Make your dinner simple and healthy. This is a great way to stay fit. Your body is better at digesting and burning off what you eat for lunch since you do more after eating. Use a template to keep yourself motivated and prevent burn-out while scheduling recipes. Also, plan for nights you want to eat out or to use leftovers from another meal. Try to have a few back-up recipes that you can make with no hassle in case your meal prep gets ruined. It happens to everybody!
Make the most out of it
The great thing about meal prepping is that you don’t have to do it all yourself. Here at Market Table, we do the prep for you with our Light Lunchboxes. Not only are they delicious, but they can fit any diet. Our Southwest Chicken Burrito Bowl is packed with flavor and it’s gluten-free. The Cilantro Lime Chicken with Cauliflower Rice makes for a tasty paleo– or Atkins-friendly meal. You can pre-order our Light Lunchboxes by Wednesday at 6 p.m. and pick them up on Sunday. And if you need a fast, last-minute meal fix, we’ll always have some options in-store.
Text by Cameron Sullivan