Save time and money!
Decrease your stress!
Reduce your food waste!
Stay true to your food goals and eat (real) good food!
All you have to do is take a few minutes each week to PLAN YOUR MEALS!
Here are my thoughts on pulling together your meal plan:
- Decide what needs planning. For my household, we can manage breakfast and lunch with some standard grocery list items and leftovers, but we always plan out our dinners a week at a time.
- Build meals around things you already have that need to be used. Stick your head in your fridge and determine what needs to be incorporated into meals this week.
- Take notice of your schedule – what is going to impact meal prep timing. Use the crock pot or grill for busy nights. Both can be prepped the night before (which you will know to do because it was in the plan!!)
- Include input from family members. Kids are MUCH more likely to eat meals they think they’ve been a part of designing.
- Try something new each week. Really talk it up and make it exciting.
- Put together a weekly grocery list/farmers market list out of the meal plan. We do our planning on Sunday mornings before heading off to the farmers market and after receiving our weekly farm box.
- Be flexible! The world is going to conspire to sabotage your eating plan. Go with the flow, make changes and substitutions as necessary, and figure out ways to squeeze your nutrient-rich meals (in whatever variation that works) into your busy schedule!
SAMPLE WEEKLY MEAL PLANS
Up top is a photo of a sample weekly meal plan – this week from our house. This plan has already been sabotaged, because we were invited to be a part of a last minute BBQ on Sunday night. So boom, every meal moves forward!
Tailor your meal plan template to whatever fits your lifestyle and personality type. Matthew (my very pragmatic husband) wonders why I don’t keep all these meal plans and just reuse them. If he were the food boss around here, there would probably be a spreadsheet involved. If that’s your style too… by all means do it! My meal planning is a part of my mindful eating meditation and I like to be in the moment as I am figuring it out. By that I mean, it’s a few moments where I can use my higher brain function and space out from the loud little people roaming about the house.
There are some really neat meal planning services out there that can be quite helpful if you’d like to eat more meals at home, but don’t want to think much about the planning. Clean Eating magazine has a section in the back (and on the web-site) that plans out all meals and snacks and gives grocery lists. Nourish Network (www.nourishnetwork.com) provides an amazing service that includes menus, grocery lists and how-to directions/timelines for beautiful dinners. I think it costs approximately $5 a week for the on-line pdfs to be emailed to you. I was lucky enough to be a part of their pilot when they were putting the program together. It was SO nice!! Nourish Network works seasonal produce into their menus, which I love. 100 Days of Real Food (www.100daysofrealfood.com) has five weeks worth of meal plans that you can access for free if you “like” them on Facebook. They are very simple, family friendly, budget conscious, and dedicated to real food. Love them.
Do you meal plan? If yes, what are your best tips? If no, any thoughts on trying it?