MY GUIDE TO HELP YOU PLAN YOUR MEALS AND AVOID THE STRESS!
After a long day of working, parenting, and driving kids around to various practices the VERY LAST thing I want to do is figure out what to make my family for dinner. I actually LOVE cooking and preparing meals, but having 30 minutes to get food on the table before my kids have a breakdown and not having anything prepared or purchased, I would get so much anxiety and resentment toward feeding my family.
If I am not prepared, we end up eating out and spending way too much money on food that just doesn’t make the cut nutritionally. I can tell you that for a while, when I was not planning and prepared, we became frequent Chipotle and In-N-Out customers. As a Nutritional Therapist, I would cringe every time I didn’t have a meal planned and took the kids to eat something less than optimal. I am not saying that Chipotle or In-N-Out are terrible options (there are way worse choices we could make), but it is no where near what I could be feeding my family if I put a little more thought into meal planning and preparing for busy weeks.
If you have been following me on INSTAGRAM or FACEBOOK, you know I have been highlighting some recipes and tips for meal planning, but I wanted to give you my absolute top tips for setting myself up for success.
TOP THREE TIPS & TRICKS FOR MEAL PLANNING
TIP 1 - PLAN ON FRIDAY
I used to plan on Sunday night or Monday, but this ALWAYS failed me. I would get busy getting the kids ready for school, making sure laundry was done for everyone, and I tried to enjoy my last few hours of peace before the chaos of the week took over so meal planning was never going to be my priority on a Sunday afternoon. When I switched my planning day to Friday I was able to create a plan and set it aside all weekend. When I plan I also make sure I have a grocery list ready on Friday night. If my list is ready, I have the option to go shop over the weekend, have Amazon Prime deliver my groceries, or even go Sunday night or Monday morning without it causing me huge amounts of stress. Having a plan going into the weekend was the NUMBER ONE thing that changed my attitude toward meal planning.
TIP 2 - COOK ONCE, EAT TWICE
I almost always make extra dinner so I can enjoy it again the next day for lunch. Make once, eat twice is such a great way to make sure I don’t eat junk for lunch or just graze on snacks all day. I can also make sure I get a nutrient dense meal in without the stress. If you are not a fan of leftovers, I suggest chopping a bunch of veggies up on prep day and prepare a variety of delicious salads. Again, cook once, eat twice…or more.
TIP 3 - LEAVE ONE FREE DAY
I like to visually see that I have one day where I have the option to eat out OR eat leftovers. I am not a fan of food waste so if we have one or two meals where something is not planned, but we have some leftovers in the fridge, we will enjoy and make sure there is no waste. Also, life happens, various things pop up like business dinners, team fundraisers, school fundraisers, or team dinners and then I just need to rearrange a planned meal to my free day. Making room for one free day leaves planning a bit more flexible for my busy family.
Meal planning has helped our family not want to go out to eat, has taken the stress of cooking a meal off of me, and has helped us enjoy family time around the table. Meal planning for me is not just about dinner, but also about our breakfasts and lunches during the week. This past week, it was just me and the boys as my husband was on a business trip. I planned 19 meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks) and left 2 days and one meal open. I went grocery shopping, minus a few pantry items I have in my house, and spent $3.50 per person on each meal. You cannot beat that. All meals and snacks were nutrient dense, organic whole foods that I can feel good about feeding my growing kids.
STILL NOT CONVINCED THAT YOU CAN MEAL PLAN? I have three options that can help jump start your planning. I have a 28-day Paleo Plan, a 28-day Plant-Based Plan, or a 28-day Personalized Plan you can purchase today. The Paleo and Plant-Based plans are both available for you to download today. Get started on your health journey today! You can do it!