The concept of meal planning seems like a “one-of-these-days” goal for many people. If you’ve never planned meals ahead of time it’s hard to know how to start. Good intentions can fall short when the busyness of life creeps in and turns the kitchen into chaos! Meal planning is certainly helpful for focusing your efforts when working on health and weight goals. It also takes the pressure off of the dreaded “what’s for dinner?” dilemma. Check out this five step guide to making a meal plan happen!
- Sit down with your calendar, a pen, and paper. Part of planning ahead means you will need to make an actual plan! Getting started is the hardest part, but don’t fear! It only requires a few minutes of your time and a little thought about the week ahead.
- Connect with your fellow diners. Who is eating with you? Who will be home to cook, turn on a crockpot, or pick up the food? Which nights do the kids have activities, when is someone working late? This helps you to know which days you truly NEED to order food or nuke leftovers and which days you have a little more time to spend in the kitchen.
- Start small. Pick one meal to focus on when you first start meal planning. Dinner makes the most sense for many families, but for others planning out healthy lunches that you and your significant other/roommate/child can eat during the week might be appropriate.
- Keep it simple. Start with a single ingredient and let the meal ideas flow from there. After a glance at my calendar I know which nights we’re cooking at home and I start assigning an entrée. Salmon on Monday, Chicken on Tuesday, Chickpeas on Wednesday, etc. Side dishes are easy to mix and match if you keep a well stocked kitchen. Frozen veggies, quinoa, couscous, brown rice, potatoes, bagged salad greens, a few fresh vegetable options, sauces and marinades are all on my must-have list for quick and balanced meals!
- Make your shopping list. Try using an app with a shared list feature, this lets everyone add to the grocery list so you can streamline your weekly errands. I love Wunderlist, it’s simple and easy to use. There are more elaborate apps out there that include a recipe database, food diaries, and shopping lists when you’re ready to take meal planning to the next level.
Need recipe inspiration? Check out the recipes on this site, follow Nourish on social media: Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Save recipes you love on Pinterest, bookmark them, or print them out to keep them handy in the kitchen. Whenever possible, double a recipe and freeze it or have it later in the week – huge timesaver!
The Nourish Dietitian Nutritionists can help you with personalized meal planning to make your life even easier. Schedule your appointment today!