Healthy eating habits requires more than motivation and good intentions. In fact, being successful at maintaining healthy eating habits requires much planning. Having a solid plan of what you are eating is one way to ensure that you are making healthy food choices all week long and take the guesswork out of meal time. Meal prepping not only saves time, but also reduces the stress of making last minute meal decisions when you are already hungry and more likely to overeat or make unhealthy food choices. Other benefits of meal planning include saving money, have more variety to your meals and reducing food waste!
There is no right or wrong way to meal plan, as long as you are doing what works for you. You can choose to plan all your meals or just one meal. Some people choose to pre-pack their meals in individual containers for each day, while others just plan out the recipes that they will be preparing each day. If you are new to meal planning, you can start by focusing on one meal, such as lunch and add other meals later. Today I am sharing 5 tips to help make meal planning easier.
Stock your pantry with essentials- Having your pantry stocked with versatile ingredients such as, quinoa, pasta, rice, canned beans, canned tuna, jarred pasta sauce will make it easy to prepare quick meals and make it easier to plan your weekly menu. Having a well-stocked pantry also means you can plan menus using ingredients you already have; you may not even have to make a trip to the grocery store!
Consider Taking shortcuts: Meal planning does not mean you have to cook everything from scratch! Save time by using ready made products such as pesto sauce to toss with pasta or a rotisserie chicken that can be used to create many meals. Salad kits are also a great time saver; just add a protein such as grilled chicken and a healthy fat such as almonds or avocados and Voila! you have a quick and healthy salad. Buying pre-chopped veggies or frozen veggies are also great shortcuts.
Plan a weekly menu: Successful meal prepping does require…Planning! take one day each week to choose recipes and create your grocery list, this will allow you to be well prepared when it is time to go grocery shopping and will help ensure that you don’t forget anything for your recipes. Planning a menu also helps to use up any items that you already have on hand. Be sure to check your pantry and refrigerator and freezer while creating your menu, this will reduce food waste and save you time at the grocery store
Limit new recipes: While it may be tempting to try making new recipes, it takes time and energy to make something new, limiting new recipes to one per week will save you time. Use websites like Pinterest or blogs to find new recipes. Having tried and true simple recipes that you love, and you already know how to prepare can help keep you from getting overwhelmed with meal prep. Examples of easy meals include frittatas, roasted vegetables, meatballs, crockpot chili and roasted chicken.
Batch cook a few dishes: Batch cooking allows you to prepare a few different dishes that can be used to build meals throughout the week, this will give you more variety in your meals. You may choose to batch cook grains such as quinoa and brown rice or make a batch of roasted veggies or roast a whole chicken. Consider cooking batch meals as simple as possible without much flavorings, to allow you to easily create full dishes throughout the week by adding sauces, herbs, fresh seasonings and other ingredients.
By Ania Mitchell, MS, RD
I am a registered dietitian with over 10 years of experience in nutrition counseling. I aim to help clients manage various health conditions using nutrition. I have experience counseling clients with hypertension, diabetes, weight management, renal disease, gestational diabetes and much more.
My goal is to help clients manage and prevent many health conditions using nutrition. I believe that nutrition plays a vital role in our overall health.