5 Genius tips for healthy meal planning including time-saving tips, money saving tips, and health tips! Meal planning the healthy way.
Meal planning can mean different things to different people. For some, it's an organized system of knowing ahead of time exactly what to prepare and eat each day of the week. For others, it's prepping some ingredients ahead of time to make life easier. For me, meal planning is simply finding any organizational system that WORKS and helps to get healthy meals on the table more efficiently.
If healthy eating is on your list of New Year aspirations then meal planning, to some degree, is essential.
5 Genius Healthy Meal Planning Tips:
1. Create a list of tried and true – It is estimated that most families repeat the same 7-10 recipes over and over again. Although that may sound boring to some, it is actually a lifeline to truly know 7-10 HEALTHY recipes that work well for you and your family. I emphasize healthy because this is where the shift needs to happen. I’ve seen “the- unhealthy- recipe- repeat” create major problems for some of my clients. So, your family loves macaroni and cheese? Great, but that’s a once in awhile food.
You want to find 7-10 healthy recipes for your repertoire, recipes that are tried and true. Take out a sheet of paper right now, either digital or physical and write down 5-10 recipes that you prepare time and time again. This is your jumping off point, your roadmap to meal planning stardom. You can use this information as a template to understand what flavors and combinations you and your family love. Even if they are not the healthiest recipes write them down, this is excellent information to build from.
2. Stock the Staples – Open a notebook or digital notebook and write down 5-10 staple items you always have on your grocery list. Mine looks like this: Eggs, sweet potato, fruit (type varies depending on the season), green vegetables (usually one leafy green and one other), almond milk, and avocado. I know that when I’ m super busy or not able to properly create a meal plan for the week I can at least get by with my staple grocery list and then cook from my pantry or freezer for the rest of the week (see tip #3).
3. Take Inventory – Take a few minutes to take a quick inventory of what’s in your fridge, pantry, and freezer right now. A major roadblock to meal planning is not using what you already have or repurchasing the same items over and over again. I recommend keeping an inventory list in a highly visible space either on your fridge or on a dry erase board in your kitchen. Typically I take a detailed inventory in January and then again in the spring. If this feels like too huge of a task, just take a quick look and jot down some notes i.e., ok I have beans, 3 kinds of grains, veggie and chicken stock and pasta. I actually have lots and lots of pasta.
As I was making my pantry inventory this week I counted 30 lbs. of pasta. That is not an exaggeration. Jordan has a pasta problem, he has officially been banned from purchasing any additional pasta until he gets through the 30lbs.
4. Deal with your produce as soon as you get it home. Grocery shopping does not end when you bring the bags into your kitchen, I wish it did, trust me. Real meal prep begins as soon as you get your food home from the market. Ask for help, if possible, something along the lines of; “Hey babe, can you watch the kids for 30 minutes?” Or “Hey babe, will you take the dog out and leave me alone for 30 minutes ;-)”.
Take that time to organize your grocery haul. Wash and dry lettuce (I wash my lettuce and leave it right in the salad spinner in my fridge), chop some raw veggies, roast a few root vegetables, shred zucchini for quick salads or meatballs. Stack up glass containers of your prepped ingredients in the refrigerator, snap a picture and post on Instagram. Obvi 😉
5. Do Not Over Purchase Food – If you buy too much food overwhelm will set in. If you open your fridge and see piles and piles of food that all has to be cooked or prepared, overwhelm will win. Err on the side of not enough food initially. I know that sounds counter-productive, but I think it takes time to truly figure out how much food you and your family consume.
Over 40% of the food produced/grown in America is thrown away. That is a devastating statistic. Meal planning is an opportunity to become more economical and conscious of your food habits leading to less waste, better economic health, and best of all more healthy nourishing food to eat!
Do you meal prep on the regular? Any tips I forgot? I'd love to hear your take!
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