7 Tips to Make Healthy Meal Planning Easy
Meal planning is one of the most effective ways to stick to a healthy diet. Instead of spending hours planning, cooking, and cleaning, meal planning can provide a source of organization around your meals. It is also helpful if you are trying to make healthy changes, improvements to your nutrition, and satisfy all the different appetites in your home. Meal planning is a great way to bring your household together to find new recipes, discuss your favorite foods, and promote bonding in the kitchen!
Here are a few benefits of meal planning:
- Save time planning with an organized calendar and shopping list. You can download apps for this, or you can create your own. Some will even help you plan, organize it into a grocery list, and connect it to a grocery pick-up/drop-off option for you. It doesn’t get any easier!
- Save money planning by efficiently shopping the aisles when you’re grocery list is organized.
- Satisfy the picky eaters in your house when you plan meals ahead of time, and offer home-cooked meals full of nourishment.
- Cure the nightly chaos and time-waste by planning it out your meals weekly.
- You are more likely to eat healthily and at home when you plan your meals.
- Avoid the dreaded daily question, “What do you want for dinner tonight?” We know when you don’t plan, this question pops up, and then no one knows what to make or eat for dinner!
So how do you make healthy meal planning easy? Whether you have a family, or it’s just you, you can customize these ideas to fit your situation. These are meant to be a guide to help you manage your time better in the kitchen and at the grocery store!
- Make it a Weekly Routine: Use the weekend to sit down and plan out the meals ahead for that upcoming week. You can do this on Saturday or Sunday, your choice. To save money, take an inventory of the items you already have in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry, and plan meals around those items. Then, write down what meals you want to cook, make a grocery list of the things you still need and then go shopping.
- Use Pinterest or a Cookbook: Search for meal inspiration, based on breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Keep organized boards or bookmarks, and refer back to those when you’re feeling in a rut with the same meals. You can also use those searches to identify specific meals for dietary restrictions such as dairy-free, gluten-free, etc.
- Start with Dinner Planning: Start planning your week’s meals with dinner ideas first. Fill in the week, and then go back and see where you may be able to use the leftovers for the next day’s breakfast or lunch. Make columns for each food group you typically eat at dinner (such as vegetables and proteins). Pick one from each of those columns, add some spices or a homemade marinade, and cook it up! You probably already have a breakfast routine (or no routine, if you fast for example). You may find a particular lunch routine best, like making salads every day, eating leftovers, etc.
- Kitchen Prep Ahead of Time: Cooking healthy does require extra prep work in the kitchen sometimes. Look ahead at your meals for the week and chop or prepare any vegetables, marinades, or sauces. This will save you a lot of time during the week. You can throw them in the pot when you need them, versus preparing and cooking them in the same day.
- Batch Cook: Some people find it easier to batch cook on Sundays for the week ahead. This may work for you, especially if you are eating the same thing all week for each meal or following a strict diet.
- Cook Once, Eat Twice: When looking for recipes, find ones that yield higher servings so that you can cook once and eat the leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. If you’re serving your family, double the recipe.
- Only Pick 1-2 New Recipes: To avoid overwhelming yourself in the kitchen during the week and your weekly meal planning session, pick mostly staple recipes, and add 1-2 new recipes for variety. You want the staple recipes that you could make with your eyes closed, so they are quick and not overwhelming to you. New recipes are always fun to try, but a new recipe each night will probably leave you never wanting to plan another meal.
Meal planning is a great way to manage your daily nutrition and incorporate healthy food into your diet. Let us know if you use any of these meal planning tips in the comments below!
If you’re looking for all the anti-inflammatory foods you should be eating, be sure you check out this article on the Top 12 Anti-Inflammatory foods!