Why meal plan? The benefits.
Personal, and client experience, have proven numerous benefits of putting consistent time aside to plan your, or your family’s, meals –
- Save time; though it will take time to plan, shop and prepare the week’s meals, condensing these into a couple of specific times throughout the week will, simultaneously, save you time. Think, less time thinking “what will I eat today?”, less trips to the grocery store, less panicked food prep.
- Save money; having a list of items that you know are going towards your planned meals means you are only buying exactly what you need. You are less likely to buy lunch or take-out as often.
- Less junk; sticking to a shopping list you are less likely to add treats to the cart.
- Less wastage; rather than ending up with a vegetable bin of uneaten items resulting from no specific purpose, eat everything you have bought exactly how you’d planned.
- A mind free’d for other things; outside of the time you have allocated for planning, you no longer have to think about food, food prep or ideas.
- Eat healthier; considered balanced meals, less junk food, less take out.
What’s not to love?
Tips for ease of meal planning
Some simple things to keep in mind as you put together your plan for the following week. We are all different, with households that operate in varied ways, choose what works for you, your way of living and eating –
- Accumulate go-to recipes; include a range to refer to over the month, build a base of required herbs, spices, dried goods and keep them stocked.
- Find recipes that you can bulk cook; big pot or crockpot meals, freezable meals, salad ‘base’ recipes for the week’s lunches.
- Try a meat-free night at least once, if not twice a week.
- Remember lunch; this is one of the meals I see fall over more than any other. You could bulk prep a quality salad base and add protein daily. Make additional dinner the night prior and have this. Bulk cook soups, freeze and have ready to go.
- Give yourself one ‘free day’; make an on the spot choice, a meal out, smart choice take out or simply what you feel like at the time.
Aiming for a balanced diet
This could be an entire blog or workshop of its own. A few quick things to keep in mind when planning your meals over the course of the day and week –
- Colours; choose meals of a variety of vegetables of different colours to include in your day. With colours come varied nutrients that are all of great benefit to our body.
- Protein; get a decent portion of protein into every meal. This will keep you fuller for longer, and ensure you are building a solid foundation for your body’s longevity.
- Include lots of green vegetables; for fibre and good quality carbohydrates to keep you active and energised.
- Use good oils; olive or avocado (even butter) are best. Avoid highly processed cheaper nut and seed oils.
- Start the day with a high protein, low sugar breakfast; eggs, salmon, avocado, vegetables, Greek yoghurt. Choose multigrain bread or sourdough. For oats, soak for better digestibility, and add protein powder, yoghurt or nut butter to avoid an energy spike and crash.
- Avoid processed foods; choose fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and legumes, quality good fats, fresh fish and farm raised meats.
Basic meal planning structure
A sample of how to work this into your week is below, swap out the days to suit you. This order ensures you are getting what you need ready, in time.
- Friday; jot down meals for the following week.
- Friday; write a shopping list.
- Sunday; grocery shop.
- Sunday; meal prep for the week.
- Wednesday; if needed, mini meal prep.
You’ll soon find a rhythm that works for you.
Keep it interesting, ask for the kids’ input, try themed nights (Kiwi, Thai, Japanese), or other fun ideas.
Find what works for you, and your lifestyle. Be realistic, don’t be hard on yourself if you go ‘off plan’, get back in the routine when you can. You will notice over time it becomes a way of life and simply ‘what you do’.
Would you like support getting into the rhythm of meal planning?