Tips for Meal Planning at Home
Posted May 18, 2016 | Nutrition & Health Tips, snacks
Although meal planning can seem stressful and difficult to add to your already busy routine, if executed correctly it can actually save time and money, and bring you and your family together for more nutritious, home cooked meals. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Create An Archive: Start by writing down all the dishes you already love to make. Have your family pitch in ideas of what they love to eat, as well. This list can be used to create a weekly menu, as well as inspire you to make something you haven’t in a while. Anytime you try something new that is a hit with your family, add it to the list.
- Pick A Day: Choosing one day a week or specific times to menu plan, grocery shop, and even chop or prep some ingredients can make it a lot easier to create a meal when the time comes. For example, chopping salad veggies and storing them in an airtight container in the fridge will allow you to create multiple salads throughout the week with ease. You can also cook a large batch of grains like brown rice if you know you will be serving it multiple times over the next several days.
- Make A List: Having a shopping list when you go to the store saves time and money. It helps you avoid buying extra things you don’t need (don’t go shopping on an empty stomach, either!), it helps reduce food waste by allowing you to know how much of each ingredient you need, and it helps save time from not having to return to the store for forgotten items.
- Stock Up: Decide on a few easy staple snacks your family enjoys to always have on hand. This could be something like almonds, yogurt, and hummus with carrots all year round and seasonal fruit such as apples in the winter and berries in the summer. Keeping fruit on the counter draws the eye and makes it more likely to be grabbed first. Nutritious choices become simple and easy when hunger would otherwise get in the way.
- Re-Invent Leftovers: Cooking a little more at dinner can save you time and effort the next day for lunch. If the idea of eating the same thing twice in 24 hours does not appeal to you, you can get creative and serve leftovers in a creative way. Serve leftover chicken in corn tortillas with salsa, put a slice of meatloaf on toasted whole grain bread, add chilled roasted veggies or whole grains to your salad, or ladle leftover soup over a steamed sweet potato. If all else fails, you can freeze most leftovers to eat a couple weeks later when you are too busy to cook.
- Get The Family Involved: Family can help out at any and all steps along the way! Assign everyone a task they can handle for their age group. In addition to the family bonding and time saved, kids are more likely to eat healthful foods if they’ve been involved in its preparation. It can help them learn to cook nutritious meals for themselves as they grow.