Meal planning may seem intimidating at first and you may not know where to start. Chef Karla Williams says, in the end, meal planning can save you both time and money. If you are just starting to meal plan, start by simply writing down a few meal ideas for this coming week. If you are still unsure about meal planning as a strategy, try these tips:
Plan your breakfast, lunches, and dinners and then write down all the ingredients you will need for these meals. If planning an entire week is overwheling, start with 1-3 days. Grocery list complete – this makes shopping less stressful because you’ve taken the time to make a list of everything you need. “If you go to the grocery store without a plan and just shop blind, then you are running the risk of adding unhealthy and highly palpable items into your grocery cart.” says Chef Karla. These items will not add up to form a nutritious meal, so you are left with unhealthy snacks and the need to go out to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Have a meal plan takes the guesswork out of dinner time because you now have a strategy.
“Don’t feel like you have to have grilled chicken and asparagus every day for lunch,” said Karla. You don’t want your meals to be bland, so planning in advance can help you cross-utilize ingredients to make a few different meal combinations while minimzing prep time. A leftover piece of grilled chicken from dinner tonight could be tomorrow’s chicken wrap or on a salad for lunch. Cook an extra serving of veggies to toss in a fritatta for the morning. Once you start dabbling in the art of meal planning, you will see how it puts meal time at a level of ease you once couldn’t imagine.
Meal planning can help you stay on track with your health goals because you are avoiding the temptations of fast food convenience. If you can take about an hour to 2 hours on Sunday, and plan your meals for the week, then you are less likely to stray from your plan. “Don’t think that you have to spend all day on Sunday to come up with extravagant recipes,” said Karla. “Plan the meals that you would like to eat and are realistic for you and your family based on the amount of time you are able to devote to it.” If you take the time in the beginning of the week, then you can quickly and easily pull out your nutritious meal and have more time to mindfully eat and enjoy the energized feeling a well-balanced meal gives.
Meal planning is a great way to set yourself up for success in your health and weight loss goals. By setting a little bit of time aside for writing down your meals, grocery shopping for those meals and a couple hours of prep-time, you are saving yourself time and money in the future. For more great healthy cooking tips, visit our website or join us in the Healthy Kitchen for hands-on cooking demonstrations, special events and so much more.