Have you planned your next healthy meal?
Updated: Jul 3, 2018
Life is no longer linear or simple. Whoever you are, whatever role you play, if you ever have to feed yourself or someone else for any stretch of time - a month, a week, a day!! You may spend an inordinate amount of time deciding what to make. The task seems daunting – what will you make? Will it taste alright? Will it be healthy? What ingredients do I get and from where? However, as intimidating as the task may seem, so is the time it takes to plan your meals. It often makes the life of busy cooks even busier – meal planning was supposed to help!
But meal planning is essential to your health and your budget. In actuality, meal planning will help you cook on a budget of money and time, make your food innovative and interesting, and help you plan healthy meals that better meet your needs and those of the loved ones you are feeding eat. Let’s take a look at how you can plan your meals more efficiently.
1. Choose simple meals. Do not think you need to create an eclectic menu where you are always trying to “go big or go home.” Understand that some of your most trusted and classic recipes are those that take advantage of the natural flavor of the ingredients. Try to choose meals that are healthy and simple, and those will yield the most flavor with the least ingredients.
2. Allot time for meal planning. When meal planning is an abstract concept that you mull over all day, it starts creeping into all other aspects of your day. You may become indecisive and shift between multiple meals. You crack open the recipe books and blogs and end up spending a large chunk of time just searching. At the next mealtime, you end up trying to cobble together a complex meal that took more from you than it gave. Set aside 10 minutes every day to plan for the next day, or for as far in advance as you can manage within that time limit. This will allow you to be more decisive and save time cooking and planning.
3. It’s a team effort.If you are cooking for a family, enlist their help. Give each family member a day where they get to choose what the family will have that day for meals. Give them healthy dietary requirements that their meal suggestions should meet. You get a plan for your meals and a very happy family that gets what it wants from the kitchen.
4. Set health objectives for the days. What is it that your body requires? Have you been under the weather lately? Is there something you want your children having that they do not get enough of? Set goals you want to meet and deficiencies you want to make up for. Have a day selected for fish, chicken, or vegetarian. Choosing a “themed protein” makes your meal planning much more streamlined and effective and will make your weekly planning healthier and more convenient.
5. Make plan-ahead meals. Build a stock of staples such as tomato puree or spice mixes. You could even make sides such as mashed potatoes or beans ahead of time and freeze them. This will make you plan meals according to what sides you have available and all you will have to do is pair main dishes with sides. Not only will this cut down your meal planning time but it will also significantly reduce your cooking time.
6. Make more from less. Make an inventory of everything you already have in your fridge and plug the variables in to find what you can make from what you already have. This gives you a specific set of recipes that you can explore in your meals and ensure minimum food wasting.