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Plan Ahead for Healthy Family Meals This Spring

The arrival of April brings longer days and warmer weather to Hunterdon County, NJ. As family life kicks into high gear with play practice, sports leagues and other activities, it inevitably cuts into time usually spent on weekday meal planning and prep. The demands of spring schedules can seriously disrupt family mealtime and healthy eating. Before you give in to the rowdy crowd and appease them with pizza or drive-through food, remember these plan-ahead tips for healthy, economical and kid-friendly meals.

Create an Assembly Line

Kids love build-your-own favorites like nachos, tostadas and tacos. On a table or serving counter, set out bowls filled with individual ingredients. Then let family members pile on their favorites and enjoy this flexible, delicious dinner option.

DIY Tostada Bar

Prepare these ingredients in advance. Place heated foods in microwave-safe dishes, ready for last-minute warming.

2 medium tomatoes, cubed
1 red onion, diced
½ head of lettuce, shredded
1 container of guacamole or 1 ripe avocado, cubed
Shredded Monterrey Jack, Pepper Jack, American or Longhorn cheese
Your favorite prepared salsa
Sliced jalapeno peppers
Sliced ripe olives
1 can refried beans or black beans, warmed
1 lb. warm ground beef (cooked in advance with taco seasoning)
1 package hard tostada or taco shells

Call Your Slow Cooker Into Action

It’s easy to prepare a hot meal when you let beef, pork, chicken, chili or beans simmer all day in a slow cooker. Serve hot meats with buns and fresh, chopped vegetables and last summer’s pickles for assembly-line sandwiches. Visit the websites Allrecipes.com and Delish.com to find other imaginative, simple slow-cooker dishes.

Be Prepared for Unexpected Fun

In springtime, NJ weather is a constant surprise. Prepare for those special weekend days when the sun shines and the mercury climbs to summer-like temperatures. Exceptionally warm spring weekends are the perfect time for families to hike in Sourland Mountain Preserve or enjoy a picnic at the Hunterdon County Arboretum. Stock your pantry in advance with easy-to-pack foods like summer sausage, whole-grain crackers, dried fruit and cheese; that way you won’t need to shop when a spur-of-the-moment adventure pops up.

Add Outdoor Lighting for More Summer Fun

As our NJ weather improves, your family will be spending more and more time outside. Outdoor lighting creates a safe place to enjoy family get-togethers long after the sun goes down. Extend your outdoor enjoyment this summer with floodlights to illuminate basketball and tennis courts, garden areas and lawns.

Maglio Electric installs pathway lights, floodlights and security lights at homes and businesses. We also provide bucket truck rentals for servicing exterior lighting, restringing flagpoles or other spring readiness tasks. Call your local electrical experts at Maglio Electric, 908.735.6218, to schedule lighting installation or bucket truck rental, or contact us online.

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