There’s a huge misconception when it comes to meal planning that it’s too time consuming.
If your meal planning regiment is costing you time, then you’re not doing it right!
Some of the meal plans out there are incredibly daunting: omelet tortillas for breakfast, turkey burger for lunch with side salad, pork roast for dinner with vegetable and rice on Monday. Tuesday breakfast is a breakfast egg mcmuffin, lunch is a Greek salad chicken wrap and dinner is beef barley soup with a biscuit.
I’m already exhausted and we haven’t gotten to Wednesday! (Not to mention I don’t believe many of these options are even that ideal foods.) There is a much simpler way.
The thing about meal planning is that it’s not about coming up with a unique gourmet meal for every meal of the week! I mean really?
But it is an important step if you want to stay on top of your health, your meals and get through your week effectively without the struggles of the daily “What should we have for dinner?”
So here are some tips to keep it simple and let your meal plan work for you:
l Get something fun to write on that’s postable. I have a chalkboard wall in my kitchen, you could get a mini-chalkboard, a whiteboard or just post a piece of paper on your fridge — just write some ideas!
l Clean out your fridge every week. Get rid of the stuff that didn’t get eaten. You want to start from a clean slate every week.
l Don’t buy things unless you know what you plan to make with it. For example, don’t buy carrots, celery, broccoli and cauliflower in hopes that you will somehow eat it, unless you plan on chopping for a veggie soup, veggies and dip or have some sort of game plan for them.
l Pick two breakfasts for the week. And repeat. Smoothies are great because you can mix them up daily to add different superfoods, different berries, and different greens — yes greens. Make sure you are putting these in your smoothie! Have this for Monday through Wednesday, Thursday pick some yogurt, berries, and hemp seeds or a breakfast bar. Keep it simple.
l For lunch and dinner, do one of two things. 1) Make enough dinner to have as leftovers for lunch. 2) Make big batches of Lunch Stuff for the week, ie. get veggies chopped for wraps, make a jumbo Quinoa salad, or a large homemade soup and then keep suppers fairly simple.
l Get your snack on! Always have something in the fridge ready for snacks. Veggies and hummus, fresh fruit (grapes, apples, berries), hardboiled eggs, quinoa cookies in the freezer, or raw chocolates made.
l Don’t feel like you need to make a gourmet dinner each night. Always have those quick and easy meals that you don’t need much time to make. Nachos with refried beans, diced tomatoes and avocado, and frozen organic pizza with a quick side salad. Or a quick brown rice pasta dish with fresh veggies. Decide which nights you actually want to prepare food and leave the others to the simple stuff.
l Always make a “for freezer” item. It’s important to keep your freezer stocked, whether it be with frozen homemade soups, raw bars, frozen homemade treats, raw chocolates or deserts, or quinoa breakfast cookies. Allocating an evening to prep food, including your “for freezer” item will leave you thanking yourself later. Listen to an audio book or watch your fave show while you prep.
l Post on your board: Breakfast: smoothies. Lunch: wraps and leftovers. Dinner: Asian bok choy salad. For the freezer: banana bread. Keep it simple!
No more excuses, take the second to try new foods, get in your kitchen and create a simple, usable plan!
Kristin Fraser, BSc, is a registered holistic nutritionist and local freelance writer. Her column appears every second Wednesday. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.