One of the toughest things people have to deal with when it comes to trying to eat healthier is that life WILL get in the way.
The boss asks you to stay late, the kids/grandkids have a soccer game, you spent the past 2 hours on social media watching funny videos and lost track of time (not that any one of us do that, lol) or any one of a number of things that life brings along are going to happen pretty much on a daily basis
And when it does always having to think about what you will have for breakfast or dinner can
be very stressful which usually leads to us picking up the phone and ordering something to be delivered, or making that right turn into the fast food drive thru.
Worrying about what you are going to eat is not only frustrating but also a waste of your time. There’s actually a pretty easy solution to it, one that will not only save you time… it’s proven to save you money, in some cases a lot of money.
What is it? Meal Planning
Meal planning is something that everyone should practice.
Even though the process of executing a meal plan varies depending on the number of people involved, it does come with a lot of advantages, the main one being not having to think about what meal you will have.
But if we’re being honest, meal planning can be a daunting practice to get started with. I mean having to actually think about an entire week of meals instead of just what I’m having for lunch.. oh the horror, lol.
Well we want to take the stress out of it all and help you master it and once you do you’ll find it only takes a few minutes each week.
Below is a highlight of the steps you need to follow during meal planning, these are the very same steps Laurie and I use each and every week:
1. Identify Your Need;
2. Find the Right Recipes;
3. Make a Precise but Substantial Grocery List;
4. Execute the Plan.
Identify Your Need
No friends, meal planning is not a death sentence. In fact it’s quite the opposite.
People who meal plan not only tend to eat less and thus be less likely to be overweight, they as we mentioned earlier also tend to be a lot less stressed.
Add to it, it should stop you from looking forward for pizza night!
In fact, a great meal plan should still allow you not only to eat healthily but also slip in some days to enjoy the foods you love in moderation and avoid feeling deprived.
This is why it is very important that you first think about what you need to achieve before you dive into meal planning.
· Do you want to save money on food?
· Is preventing food waste your ultimate goal?
· Do you want to eat better by experimenting?
· Do you want to save on time when choosing what to eat for lunch?
Decide on what significantly matters to you and use it as a foundation for your meal planning adventure.
Then write it down. We just use a simple weekly calendar that you can print off from the internet and write down what we’re having each day. If you save them over time you’ll establish a “library” of sorts and then you can just rotate through different things which speeds up the process even more.
This is what Laurie and I do and our total meal planning time is now less than 5 minutes or so a week 😀
Find The Right Recipes
Once you decide what you want to accomplish with your meal planning, it is time to arm yourself with the right recipes.
Not sure where to look? Well we share healthy yet very tasty recipes on our Facebook page each and every week so if you aren’t following us there head on over and check them out.
The goal is to chose recipes that will work for you and your family and then fit them into your weekly plan.
Start by deciding on the number of times you will eat at home during the week, consider your children and other family members, and don’t forget to account for any guests you are expecting over the week.
Considering all of those factors will help to ensure you cook the right meal at the right time, without anyone being disadvantaged.
Record the days/times you’re planning to eat out too. One thing we’ve found with many people in our Healthy Eating and Lifestyle Weightloss program is when they actually track how often then eat out they are usually shocked at the number.
Even better when they track how much they spend eating out in a given week or month they are often amazed at that number and it helps them to see how much they could save by cooking at home instead.
One person who did that recently figured out she was spending almost $150/week eating out and after cutting back she not only was able to eat better and lose weight but saved so much she was able to treat herself to a spa day each month.
Go for recipes you are very familiar with but also strive to add a new one each week.
Trying a new recipe is something Laurie and I do each week and the beauty of it is not only do we often find recipes that become part of the regular rotation it keeps us from being bored by eating the same things over and over which most of us tend to do.
These recipes should be of food you want to eat and ideally require shared ingredients.
Lastly, and this one can be a key one for many people, try to use recipes that leave you with leftovers that you can have at some other time. It not only cuts down on the cooking you need to do but it will help you save money and reduce food waste.
Make A Precise But Substantial Grocery List
After choosing your recipes, it is time to make a grocery list to guide you when shopping.
Use your recipes to do some stock checking in your kitchen and determine which ingredients are still available and which need replenishment.
Remove from your list any ingredients that are already in your kitchen.
Then, come up with a well-organized final grocery list so that you can shop with ease.
Side Note: This is where online shopping for your groceries can be a god send. We use a tablet and when we see something we need we just enter it in and then let the fine folks at the store do the shopping for us
After shopping for the ingredients, store them in specific places (such as cupboards or pantry shelves) in order to create an organized system that works for you hence saving time while cooking.
Execute The Plan
Remember a plan only works if you actually follow it.
At this point, you already know what your meal plan is aiming for, you have the right recipes and you have shopped for all the ingredients you need.
It is now time to start implementing your meal plan. You can either start with chopping vegetables, washing tomatoes or as we do meal prep aka batch cooking.
By doing so, you will curb the fatigue that often accompanies cooking throughout the week.
Meal planning will help you to achieve what you need in terms of having a flexible meal plan that saves on money, blesses you with leftovers and allows you to eat your favorite healthy meal but still lets you enjoy a meal at your favorite restaurant occasionally.
However, getting the right meal plan is not a walk into the park! Following the steps outlined above will help you come up with the right meal plan that works for you.
Keep repeating the process of meal planning as often as needed while making necessary changes to arrive at what suits you.
Always remember that meal planning is not restrictive. It is flexible and convenient. You can still enjoy your favorite ice cream!