Meal Planning Magic
brought to us by Edie Shaw-Ewald, RD
I became an avid meal planner shortly after my first son was born. This also coincided with the sale of my cute two-seater car and weekly romantic dinners with Mike. Funny how that happens, huh?
I realized that it was no longer possible to browse over food magazines deciding what to make for dinner that night and pop out to pick up that special ingredient at 6 p.m.
Twenty years later, (wow!), I still firmly believe in the magic of meal planning and really feel that it is key to healthy eating: planning ahead and having the ingredients in the kitchen.
Deciding what to eat when everyone is tired and hungry after work and school is the real hard part after all. That is when all good intentions of healthy eating fly out the window as the take- out pizza comes in the door.
My meal planning techniques have gone through many evolutions – from planning a 7-day meal plan for a whole season, to a more flexible plan as my family has grown.
You have to find what works for you and your family.
It will make a huge difference in so many aspects of your family life.
WHY MEAL PLAN?
To prepare healthier meals
To get out of a ‘food rut’
To reduce convenience foods
To reduce food waste
To reduce eating out and takeout
To save time
To save money
To be a healthy role model for children
To teach children an important life skill
To improve cooking skills
It will also give you a feeling of mastery over your kitchen and your family’s diet.
Who knew meal planning could be so good?
Steps to Meal Planning:
Do an inventory of your fridge, freezer and pantry to see what you already have. Take particular note of foods that need to be used soon, such as vegetables, fruit or dairy. Incorporate these foods into your plan. You may want to use up foods from the freezer and pantry too.
Create a general outline of the types of meals you want to have during the week:
Sunday: Chicken, potato, vegetables
Monday: Hearty soup (leftovers make a great soup!)
Tuesday: Pasta and salad
Wednesday: meatless meal
Thursday: stir- fry
Friday: pizza and salad
Saturday: fish dish
Take a look at your weekly schedule / routine. There are probably nights that you need fast and simple meals and other nights that enable more time -consuming meal preparation. Be realistic with your time and energy for the different nights of the week.
Now you can fill in the details with inspiration from cookbooks, recipe blogs, websites, magazines and family suggestions.
Write down two or three ideas for breakfasts, lunches and snacks.
As you plan the meals and snacks, write the ingredients needed on the grocery shopping list.
Don’t forget to check to see what staple food items you need and add them to the list too.
TIP: Keep the meal plan visible in the kitchen – if someone gets home before you, they can look up the meal and start peeling, washing and prepping
Now you are ready to go!!
Don’t forget to take your grocery list with you!
There are many meal planning printables online – Here is a nice one: