How to plan a healthy easter meal

These dinner (or anytime!) good-for-you Easter recipes will bring your holiday meal to the next level.

How to plan a healthy easter meal

How to plan a healthy easter meal

Easter is one of the most celebrated holidays in spring, and there isn’t a better occasion to honor the freshest bounty of the season: Asparagus, carrots, radishes, apricots, and grapefruit are all on the table! Harvesting the flavors of healthy springtime vegetables and fruit is easy if you’re planning on shopping a farm-fresh menu. Our healthiest Easter ideas are often anchored on a bountiful mix of herbs, spices, lean proteins, and plenty of fresh additions that are perfect for a family-style meal. Whether you’re choosing to serve a formal dinner or a cozy brunch, these healthy Easter recipes are designed to please everyone in your family.

Since temperatures can still be quite chilly during Easter Sunday, many home cooks love to carve up a hearty protein as a show-stopping entrée. Sourcing organic or heritage turkey or chicken to roast alongside garden vegetables is a proven way to impress at Easter dinner, but these birds aren’t the only lean proteins you can cook easily. Sliced pork loin and lean flank steak can also suffice, and more delicate dishes make use of flaky fish, including salmon, halibut, and cod. Using your oven to expertly bake a seasoned protein alongside a medley of vegetables is one of the easiest ways to get a healthy Easter dinner on the table.

But even lighter dishes, which are also perfect to serve at an Easter brunch, make use of spring greens like romaine, spinach, or arugula. Bountiful salads can be made beforehand, and lighter snacks (plenty of deviled eggs!) can also keep little ones happy between bites of Easter candy. Whichever route you choose, this collection of healthy Easter recipes will truly hit the spot at any time during the holiday.

We love Easter and with it the start of Spring. It feels so great to be able to go outside and play after being stuck inside all Winter. For kids, Easter usually means little plastic eggs filled with all sorts of sugary delights. For adults, Easter usually is a time of reflection and family. We always get together and have a meal with family – either dinner or brunch. We have found that if you fill your kids with delicious and healthy food earlier in the day, then they are less likely to stuff themselves with candy later. Our Healthy Easter Brunch is satisfying, delicious and full of whole food ingredients packed with nutrition.

For Easter brunch, we like to keep the menu fresh and simple by using a variety of fruits and veggies. Fruit is not only sweet, but is colorful and can tempt the palate of any little one – especially berries!

How to plan a healthy easter meal

We used almond butter in the crust because it adds a beautiful hint of nutty flavor and a whole lot of nutrition. Almond butter has fiber, protein and a lot more Vitamin E than peanut butter. Combined with the cool creamy yogurt filling and the sweet juicy berries, this tart is perfect for a brunch.

How to plan a healthy easter meal

For something a little more hearty and savory we made an asparagus frittata. This was absolutely delicious.

How to plan a healthy easter meal

We love this recipe because it is super versatile. We used asparagus and ham in our frittata, but you could use broccoli, peppers, sweet potato, turkey – so many options!

How to plan a healthy easter meal

We loved the combination of sweet and light tart with a savory frittata. To wash it all down, we served the tart and frittata with a fresh citrus juice bar. You can just serve orange juice, or we served:

  • Grapefruit Juice
  • Orange Juice
  • Blood Orange Juice

If you are buying juice, just make sure to buy 100% juice without added sugars. So refreshing. We hope your Easter is full of fun, family, and good food!

How to plan a healthy easter meal

When looking to eat a healthy diet on a budget, careful meal planning and smart purchasing play big roles!

Taking the time to plan meals ahead of time has several advantages: You can prepare healthier meals, save time and money, reduce stress, make less frequent trips to the grocery store, and eat out or order takeout less often. It’s important to pick meals that you and your family will enjoy, and by planning ahead of time you can fit pricier foods into your budget and enjoy meals that provide the best value.

Steps to meal planning

  • Take a look at what is in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Make a list of the foods and ingredients you already have on hand.
  • Check for sales, store specials or coupons. These can be inspiration for meals for the week. However, only buy sale items that you need or like and will actually use!
  • Think about your schedule for the week. Which days are busier? Are there days you might have more time to prepare? Do you have plans to get restaurant food this week?
  • Decide what meals to make. Aim to make half of each meal consist of fruits and vegetables most of the time. Then include whole grains and lean proteins such as seafood, beans, tofu, chicken, turkey, lean beef or pork. Try to go meatless one or more days per week with some of these ideas: enjoy rice and beans, add lentils to soups, or have breakfast for dinner (think omelet with veggies and whole grain toast).
  • Plan to use leftovers. We’ll discuss make-ahead meals and ways to use leftovers more in next month’s article.
  • Make a shopping list based on your plan, considering what you have on hand. Try to organize your list based on where items are in the grocery store where you shop.

Once you have your meals planned and your list made, be sure to bring your list to the grocery store with you and stick to it! Try to avoid going down aisles that don’t have items on your list. When you get home, store the refrigerated and frozen foods right away to preserve quality and food safety. Consider doing some of the prep when you get home, such as washing or cutting produce or portioning out bulk purchases, to save you time and stress down the road.

How to save money at the grocery store

  • Check sell-by/use-by dates to select the freshest products
  • Look at high and low shelves; eye-level products might be more expensive.
  • Compare unit prices. Unit prices are the total price divided by the size or the count of the item in the package. This helps you compare the prices of products that come in different sizes.
  • Consider buying larger sizes or in bulk. Purchasing larger quantities is often cheaper, but you won’t save any money if it goes to waste. Only buy foods in bulk or larger sizes if they are foods you eat regularly, you have room to store them in the refrigerator, freezer, or pantry, and you’re sure will actually use the whole amount before it goes bad. Americans throw out about 14% of the food they buy in grocery stores — throwing away an average of about $500 every year. Non-perishables or stable items like peanut butter, grains or canned tuna might be good options to buy in bulk, while you might want to be more cautious with foods like fresh produce or milk.
  • Sign up for store rewards programs. These are usually free and will give you better prices.
  • Eat before you go grocery shopping to avoid shopping when you are hungry.
  • Look for store brands.
  • Buy staple items (pasta, beans) when they are low in price, not necessarily waiting until you run out.

Check back next month for time-saver tips for the kitchen and make-ahead meal ideas!

More nutrition tips

Our nutrition team can play an important role in your care — before, during and after treatment.

From choosing containers for a single-serve meal to the best drinks to have on hand, a professional caterer shares her tips.

'Tis the season for outdoor entertaining, and if you aren't already thinking about single-serving menus, now's the time to do so. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, safely hosting guests is of the utmost importance. "Whether it's in the form of personal picnic baskets or designated containers with single portions of food, a contactless (or single-serving) menu means that guests will have their own individual setup in terms food, drink, dishes, and utensils," explains professional caterer Annie Campbell. "You'll need to choose dishes that can be prepared and packaged well in advance, and at served room temperature."

Along with sparing you from the hassle of serving food buffet style (and making your guests more comfortable in the age of the coronavirus), Campbell says employing a single-serving menu at an outdoor celebration allows you to be more present, too. "It takes the awkwardness out of having to navigate each step of the party," she explains. "If everything is set up safely in advance, you can jump to the main event: great food, great conversation, and hopefully some much needed laughter." Curious how you can prepare a contactless menu for your next backyard party? Campbell's advice makes the process simple.

Choose containers wisely.

The right container can make or break a single-serving menu. "Paper take-out containers and glass jars work well for packaging individual dishes, since you can embellish the top with fresh herbs or a small bundle of flowers," she explains. "Place the food inside each container with a linen napkin and real flatware wrapped in twine for a personal touch." Skip single-use plastics where ever possible—while they're convenient, they're a bad choice for the environment.

Pick an appropriate meal.

In addition to selecting an entrée that can easily be packaged up individually, Campbell says it's essential to put together a meal that can be served room-temperature, too. "For entrées, I love fried chicken alongside a cornbread panzanella and classic coleslaw," she says. "For an Italian evening, serve dishes such as hanger steak or salmon with salsa verde paired with farro with grilled market vegetables, and a caprese or chopped salad with an oregano vinaigrette. All of these dishes work very well served room temperature."

Keep desserts simple.

Campbell says you'll want to pick a dessert that's easy to serve to each guest separately. "Finger foods work best for desserts: chocolate chip cookies, brown butter rice crispy treats, or cherry crumb bars," she says. "For a birthday celebration, cupcakes work better than cake. An individual seasonal crisp is another great option."

Consider single-serving spirits.

When it comes to adult beverages, Campbell suggests sticking with premade cocktails that don't separate over time, such as spicy margaritas or mint gimlets. "We like to put a pre-batched cocktail (usually two per guest) in a glass or jar with a lid for guests to chill and stir just before drinking," she says. "You can also set up individual cocktail kits for each person with spirits, mixes, and garnishes—just be sure that each guest has their own ice bucket and flat or sparkling water available."

Don’t forget about snacks.

No outdoor party would be complete without snacks, which Campbell says can also be served per person. "Individual grazing boards and boxes are perfect for snacks," she says. For a sophisticated snack spread, she recommends crudités with homemade buttermilk chive dip or cheeses and charcuterie mixed with seasonal fruits and crackers. "You can also keep it simple with individual small bowls of olives and cashews, or potato chips with classic onion dip," she says.

How to plan a healthy easter meal

Meal planning sounds simple enough, but it’s not always that easy if you aren’t sure how to get started. The good thing is that once you get the hang of this style of cooking and eating, it makes life easier, cheaper, and more efficient—at least on the food side of things. With that in mind, pull out a pen and paper or download one of the many meal planning apps on your smartphone and figure out a way to not only eat better, but be more organized at the same time.

Benefits of Meal Planning

Nobody wants to waste time, money, or food, and meal planning proves one of the best ways to efficiently eat waste-free(ish). A 2014 study funded by the United States Department of Agriculture discovered that on average American consumers waste between 225 and 290 pounds of food per year. With that much thrown away, around two billion people could be fed annually. You may not be able to stop all of that food from getting trashed, but you can help minimize your family's waste by planning what you eat each day.

Aside from the obvious environmental effect, meal planning helps one make better choices. Instead of stopping for fast food on the way home because you’re tired and don’t know what to eat, you can have a plan in place to make a simple pesto pasta with fresh vegetables, for example.

Choosing what’s on your plate also means you can avoid overly processed foods and meals chock full of oils and fats. And, if you want to indulge and make that lasagna for your family, it’s a decision you’re making ahead of time so not only will the ingredients be there, but you can balance out the heavy food with lighter fare the rest of the week.

Sounds great, right? But how does one even know where to begin?

How to Get Started

The first step proves easy: you have to want to change the way you cook and eat at home. Then, get a piece of paper and a pen or download an app such as Mealime or AnyList. From there you just have to decide what you want to eat that week, taking into account when you’ll be home, what’s activities the family has, and how much time you want to spend in the kitchen.

Try to pick ingredients that work together, such as cilantro, lime, tomatoes, and cucumbers. You can use these in multiple dishes that still have a unique flavor, and it's a good way to use up a bunch of fresh herbs.

Keep in mind your lifestyle, too. That night you have to stay at work for a late meeting may not be the time to try a new and complicated recipe. You don't want to plan to cook on an evening when you're going out with friends and, if you have a lunch date in the books, don't count on bringing a meal to the office. A quick glance at your personal calendar will help with all this.

After figuring out what meals you will be preparing at home, it’s nice to find some inspiring recipes to work off of. Do you have a favorite cookbook or food magazine to flip through? Maybe a friend suggested a recipe for lamb stew you’re dying to try. If you have kids and it’s a busy school night, figure out some simple recipes that can be done in a slow cooker or in one dish. As you pick recipes, write down the ingredients you need and, on your list of meals, add a spot where the recipe is located so you’re not hunting for it last minute.

How to plan a healthy easter meal

How to Shop Smartly

When it comes to hitting the grocery store you should have two goals in mind: saving money and minimizing food waste. That’s what meal planning is all about, right? That’s why it’s imperative to write up a shopping list, which you do after you know what you’ll be making all week long. Keep portion sizes in mind and don’t stock up on something perishable unless there’s something you can do with it.

For example, getting a value pack of ground beef can be a great idea if you portion out what you will cook that week and then freeze the rest. But picking up an extra bunch of bananas won’t do you much good unless you have banana bread on the mind or want to freeze them (unpeeled) for smoothies. Both these instances represent smart shopping during sales, but just make sure not to deviate from the list too much once you get to the store. To better utilize deals, try and check out fliers or the grocery’s website to see what will be discounted and work your menu around that.

Keeping a well-stocked pantry also proves useful and can help make the basis of many dishes. Think things like pasta, rice, whole grains, beans (canned or dried), olive oil, red wine vinegar, canned tomatoes, and spices. There are also tasty accouterments to store in the fridge, from miso paste to capers to hard cheeses like Pecorino Romano and Parmesan.

Cook With a Purpose (And Have the Right Tools)

Obviously cooking remains a big part of meal planning, though it doesn’t have to take as much time as you might think. Tools like slow cookers, immersion blenders, food processors, and pressure cookers can make preparing meals easier and less time consuming. A good cookbook also proves an invaluable tool, and we found that checking out food tomes from the library was a great way to find authors and chefs we really liked, without having to collect a plethora of books and find room to store them.

Another way to make cooking work for you comes through preparation. Since you have your menu, it doesn't hurt to chop kale for the whole week, marinate meat ahead of time, or portion out salad fixings. If you're doing something in the slow cooker, make sure you have enough space in the morning to get it started. This sort of tool proves great for nights when you're coming in later and don't have a big cooking or eating window. It's also a good way to make a big batch of something so you have food for another meal or two.

How to plan a healthy easter meal

Creating Menus

Now that you know how and why to meal plan, here’s the best way to craft a menu. In order to lessen food fatigue—you know, when you eat pizza so much you don’t want to look at another slice for a while—try and mix up cuisines, styles, and methods of cooking. As much as beef stew proves delicious, no one really wants to eat five soups in a week. Think of it like this: one day for fish, one day for beef, chicken or pork, one meal out of the slow cooker, and two that take inspiration from other countries.

When a recipe really resonates with you and your family, earmark it for future menus. Just don’t put the same thing on more than once a month, even if we love bolognese sauce and pasta, it can get boring after a while, especially if leftovers are taken into account. Plus, then the eaters around the table get excited when their favorites come into rotation!

Ready to get started? Check out our Dinner Plans series, which shows you how to make multiple meals with one big-batch protein, such as roast beef, sausage, or mushrooms.

A free 7-day, flexible weight loss meal plan including breakfast, lunch and dinner and a shopping list. All recipes include calories and updated WW Smart Points.

How to plan a healthy easter meal

7-Day Healthy Meal Plan

Why Should Everyone Meal Plan?

Meal planning is a great way to organize your meals for the week ahead. You also save time and money in the supermarket! And of course, planning ahead helps you stick to your goals!

About The Meal Plan

If you’re new to my meal plans, I’ve been sharing these free, 7-day flexible healthy meal plans (you can see my previous meal plans here) that are meant as a guide, with plenty of wiggle room for you to add more food, coffee, beverages, fruits, snacks, dessert, wine, etc. or swap recipes out for meals you prefer, you can search for recipes by course in the index. You should aim for around 1500 calories* per day.

There’s also a precise, organized grocery list that will make grocery shopping so much easier and much less stressful. Save you money and time. You’ll dine out less often, waste less food and you’ll have everything you need on hand to help keep you on track.

Lastly, if you’re on Facebook join my Skinnytaste Facebook Community where everyone’s sharing photos of recipes they are making, you can join here. I’m loving all the ideas everyone’s sharing! If you wish to get on the email list, you can subscribe here so you never miss a meal plan!

Also, if you don’t have the Skinnytaste Meal Planner, now would be a great time to get one to get organized for 2020! There was a print error last year, but it’s perfect now! You can order it here!

THE DETAILS:

Breakfast and lunch Monday-Friday, are designed to serve 1 while dinners and all meals on Saturday and Sunday are designed to serve a family of 4. Some recipes make enough leftovers for two nights or lunch the next day. While we truly believe there is no one size fits all meal plan, we did our best to come up with something that appeals to a wide range of individuals. Everything is Weight Watchers friendly, I included the updated WW Blue SP for your convenience, feel free to swap out any recipes you wish or just use this for inspiration!

The grocery list is comprehensive and includes everything you need to make all meals on the plan. I’ve even included brand recommendations of products I love and use often. Cross check your cabinets because many condiments you’ll notice I use often, so you may already have a lot of them.

And last, but certainly not least, this meal plan is flexible and realistic. There’s plenty of wiggle room for cocktails, healthy snacks, dessert and dinner out. And if necessary, you can move some things around to make it work with your schedule. Please let me know if you’re using these plans, this will help me decide if I should continue sharing them!

MONDAY (3/29)
B: Strawberry Peanut Butter Swirl Smoothie Bowls (½ recipe) (7B 7G 7P)
L: Greek Chickpea Salad (6B 6G 6P)
D: Carrot Ginger Soup (3B 3G 3P) with a grilled cheese* (8B 8G 8P)

Totals: WW Points 24B 24G 24P, Calories 917**

TUESDAY (3/30)
B: 2 hard-boiled eggs (0B 4G 0P) and 1 cup chopped pineapple (0B 0G 0P)
L: Greek Chickpea Salad (6B 6G 6P)
D: Cilantro Lime Fish Tacos (6B 6G 6P) with Mexican Cauliflower “Rice” (1B 1G 1P)
Totals: WW Points 13B 17G 13P, Calories 886**

Totals: WW Points 19B 21G 19P, Calories 980**

THURSDAY (4/1)
B: 2 hard-boiled eggs (0B 4G 0P) and 1 cup chopped pineapple (0B 0G 0P)
L: Greek Chickpea Salad (6B 6G 6P)
D: Carne en Bistec (4B 4G 5P) with Avocado Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette (4B 4G 4P) and ¾ cup brown rice (5B 5G 0P)

Totals: WW Points 19B 23G 15P, Calories 1,042**

FRIDAY (4/2)
B: Open-Faced Omelet with Avocado and Pico de Gallo (1B 3G 1P)
L: LEFTOVER Carne en Bistec (4B 4G 5P) with ¾ cup brown rice (5B 5G 0P)
D: Sheet Pan Shrimp Oreganata (3B 5G 3P) with Broccoli and Orzo (4B 4G 4P)
Totals: WW Points 17B 21G 13P, Calories 984*

SATURDAY (4/3)
B: Hot Cross Buns (7B 8G 7P)
L: Crustless Ham and Cheese Quiche (5B 6G 5P) with an orange (0B 0G 0P)
D: ORDER IN!

Totals: WW Points 12B 14G 12P, Calories 507**

Totals: WW Points 21B 25G 18P, Calories 1,055**

*Grilled cheese includes 2 thin-sliced whole grain bread and 1 ounce cheddar cheese.
**This is just a guide, women should aim for around 1500 calories per day. Here’s a helpful calculator to estimate
your calorie needs. I’ve left plenty of wiggle room for you to add more food such as coffee, beverages, fruits,
snacks, dessert, wine, etc.

Make one of these delicious, showstopping entrées the centerpiece of your holiday table.

1 of 21

If you’re looking for some Easter dinner recipe inspiration, you’re in luck—we have lip-smacking ideas for the main course that are sure to satisfy. One of the most popular things to cook for Easter is lamb. From a crown rack of lamb that will feed a large family or individual lamb loins if you’re keeping your celebration on the smaller side, our recipes are just right for this joyful holiday. Try our recipe for Lamb Ghouzi, pictured here. Lamb shoulder is seasoned with a combination of saffron, ginger, garlic, cardamom, and cloves for warm, spiced flavor. Complete the meal with generous servings of basmati rice, roasted potatoes, and a citrus arugula salad.

If a spectacular roast turkey is more your style, keep it simple by roasting the bird with lemon and herbs, or pack a punch with a sweet and sharp glaze made from ingredients such as maple syrup, mustard, or fruit marmalade.

Of course, one of the best things about Easter falling during the spring is the abundance of seasonal vegetables—peas and asparagus, in particular, are at their peak and we can’t think of two produce items more befitting of Easter dinner. From pairing peas with saffron risotto and shrimp, to other unique flavors, you’ll love our delicious ways to prepare them. We can’t forget about the Easter bunny, so we made sure to include several carrot recipes guaranteed to please, including risotto made with carrot juice and plenty of other in-season dishes that are simple, but spectacular.

Ready to plan for your own holiday celebration? Go ahead and serve your best and most delicious feast ever with these Easter dinner recipes.

Narrator: WebMD Dietitian Kathleen Zelman is helping an aspiring young chef create a healthier Easter menu….

Kathleen Zelman, RD, MPH, WebMD Weight Loss Clinic: We can cut maybe a tablespoon or so…

Narrator: What’s her key to a delicious holiday spread that’s good for you? Choose foods that build your body’s defenses.

Kathleen Zelman, RD, MPH, WebMD Weight Loss Clinic: When you choose vegetables for your holiday meal look for the rich color—like sweet potatoes—that deep orange color means they are full of Vitamin A. When you look for greens look for the dark greens, like spinach, green beans, broccoli. They all contain lots of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals that help prevent disease.

Narrator: Don’t forget the berries. All berries contain phenols–antioxidants which help fight cancer, stroke and heart disease. Carrots, squash and zucchini are loaded with Vitamins A and C, fiber, and potassium. But what about those family favorites, casseroles?

Kathleen Zelman, RD, MPH, WebMD Weight Loss Clinic: One way you can lower the fat and lower calories is to think about substituting or replacing certain ingredients. For example in this sweet potato sham where you have butter, sugar and cream you can use a lower fat cream or you can substitute a different ingredient.

Young Chef: Will it taste the different?

Kathleen Zelman, RD, MPH, WebMD Weight Loss Clinic: It will be just as good and no one will ever know difference.

Narrator: While leg of lamb and baked ham are the traditional Easter meats, turkey is the healthier choice. Let’s not forget the famous Easter egg! Choose those with added Omega 3 oil and you’ve added heart healthy benefits. When it comes to those calorie laden Easter pies and cakes, Kathleen has another tip for our young chef:

Kathleen Zelman, RD, MPH, WebMD Weight Loss Clinic: Krysta I see that you’re substituting applesauce for the oil in your cake mix recipe—it’s a great way to lower the fat and calories and you know you can also substitute yogurt!

Narrator: Drink choices are easy: Tea and coffee are full of antioxidants, and red wine is heart healthy. So feel free to indulge in a glass or two….