Meal planning is key to supporting a wide range of goals. Whether your aim is weight loss or weight maintenance, you need to make sure you get the best nutrition possible! Planning also prevents stress and allows you to ensure you and your family pack a healthy lunchbox. This means avoiding processed, beige and costly food options.
Once you start meal planning, you won’t be able to stop. Your grocery shopping becomes simplified, you save both time and money, and it can bring back lots of creativity in the kitchen.
Here are our suggestions:
1. Start small cook in bulk
Don’t overwhelm yourself with a whole week’s worth of meal planning to start out with. Take a few days at a time to begin with especially if you’re cooking for more than one! When cooking something new create intended leftovers. Freeze a few portions so that you have food to fill in the gaps over the following weeks. One day a week, just take a couple of hours to chop, cook and box up. It will save you massive amounts of time and take the hassle out of healthy eating.
2. It’s not just about what you WANT to eat, but what NEEDS to be eaten
It’s great to introduce one or two new recipes per week, depending on the time you have, but you also want to take into account the food you have at your fingertips. Make use of the leftover veggies, the bag of sweet potatoes you bought because there was a special offer or that side of salmon in the freezer. Remember to use the leftovers to make a pie, tacos, a breakfast hash or lunch time salad toppers.
3. Equip yourself with the right storage solutions!
There’s no point in preparing all the right meal components and holding on to leftovers if you don’t have the right containers to hold them be it in or outside of the fridge. You want to be able to pack them up to bring with you when on the move to work/school or heading off on a road trip! So get little and large boxes and containers and jars with seal-tight lids and caps.
4. Use a template and don’t forget snacks
Use an empty weekly template covering all meals including snacks and the weekend. If you’re going to eat well and stick with it, you need to have a plan of action. This will make prepping your ingredients and making sure you pick up all the necessities at the grocery store so much more manageable.
Incorporate some suggestions for yourself for snacks should you feel the need to have something between meals. Having healthy options in the glove box of your car, your handbag or drawer at work will mean you’re not left in a pickle grazing on less than ideal choices.
5. Embrace the garbage bowl
Have at least one night a week when you simply throw a mixture of whatever leftovers are lingering in to a bowl and embrace the diversity of flavours! They can sometimes be the most magical of meals, even if they’re not that aesthetically pleasing.
6. Use your food processor strategically
I use my food processor for everything – slicing, shredding, chopping, blending. Prep the items that can easily be rinsed out with minimal residue, leaving the likes of sauce/pesto till last. And even when I’m making a batch of raw brownies, I make sure to blitz my nuts first, with the dates blended to a paste second; otherwise the whole process becomes a sticky mess! The less cleaning up the better!
7. Think outside the box
Cereal and toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and meat and two veg for dinner? It’s potentially a carb-loaded, sugar-laden recipe for disaster regardless of whether it’s planned for or not. Meal planning and prepping is your opportunity to think outside the confines of the traditional food pyramid and media-driven meal structure.
It might take a while to get used to but ultimately you’ll save time and money, are likely to feel much more nourished, satisfied and suffer from far less cravings if you switch things up a bit. Plan your meals with protein and fat in mind both for you and your family. Add colour and you’re most likely on to a winning meal!
8. Pin for inspiration!
There is nothing worse than sitting down to meal prep and getting “writer’s block”! Having a pinboard (even over on Pinterest) full of inspiration, meals that you’re looking forward to trying will make both the planning and prep that bit more exciting. Dare I say you might just start to look forward to it!
Do you have any meal planning or healthy eating tips to share? We’d love to hear your thoughts!