You don’t necessarily have to have the desire to be healthy for meal planning. Meal planning is all about convenience and efficiency. It isn’t difficult to waste a good thirty minutes to an hour wondering what you should make for dinner. Surely we all have better things to do than think about meals everyday. Meal planning helps your wallet stay full as well, so you aren’t buying food you don’t eat. It’s a win-win, and if you’re wanting to be healthy it ends up being a win-win-win.
How to begin?
Make a schedule to coordinate with your grocery trips.
1. I tend to go to the grocery store every week, so I only plan meals for one week +1 day (because I need a back up plan if I don’’ make it back to the store on the day I plan on going).
2. Once you know which day you are going to the store, write down the 8 days following. Just get a piece of paper and write a list of the days, and maybe even a note about what is going on that day. On Wednesdays right now we have gymnastics that gets out around 11:30, so we either plan on Chik-fil-a or we plan on something quick. This way when we arrive home and everyone is HANGRY it doesn’t take us long to calm back down. If we have something planned in the evening, I try not to make a huge mess in the kitchen, so no fried chicken or homemade cole slaw, or fresh bread. I also note any day my husband is out of town… honestly, it only matters if we’re eating pork chops or pork tenderloin because my little (almost) 2 year old girl loves that stuff and I can’t get it cut fast enough. Its funny, but it is truer than true.
3. Separate each day into 3 or 4 parts: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack (optional). I really can’t think how this isn’t self explanatory.
4. Next write out everything you wish to eat, not just the main course but the sides as well. At our home our general rule of thumb for meals is, 1 protein, 1 vegetable, 1 fruit, and 1 grain.
5. Your job is complete!
Added Tip #1: The tricky part is purchasing fresh meat with an expiration date. I’m really aware of when my meat will go bad, so I make sure my meals are planned accordingly. This may mean a slight shuffle in what is made each day, or nixing the idea completely and having to come up with a substitute meal on the fly.
Added Tip #2: Plan at least one leftover night, or leftovers for lunch.
Added Tip #3: If delivery or grocery pick up is available, use it. Though it is convenient, you’ll also save money because you’ll only get what you need.
Added Tip #4: Look in your pantry and freezer to be sure you don’t have things to make a meal. I love an empty freezer and pantry because it means we’re not wasting food. It is also humbling because most of the time we have frozen deer burger, or cans of beans in the pantry, which I don’t like for so many reasons, but it is food, and there are people in this world who would love to have it.
Lord, I’m thankful for all you provide for our family.