Meal Planning 101: Eating Healthy Meals Made Easy

I’m a true believer that having a good plan is what can set you up for success and consistency.  One of the things I am most consistent with in regards to healthy habits, is prioritizing good food choices throughout the week.  I attribute this in part to, well I’m a Naturopathic Doctor and of course food is important to me, but also I meal plan (just about) every week!  

Meal planning has made my mornings and supper times more efficient and less chaotic.  Having a plan of what you are going to eat for the week can save you from making food choices that your body doesn’t feel good about, and save you time, money, and food waste.  When I am discussing healthy eating with clients living busy lives, I almost always suggest giving meal planning a try.

One time per week sit down with a good cup of tea or coffee, and plan your week’s worth of meals. Don’t know where to get started? 

Here are my top 8 suggestions to get you started meal planning today!  We have even created a FREE template that you can download and print to make things easier!

  1. Choose your meals for the week based on the following:  what do you already have in your pantry/refrigerator? What is on sale and/or in season this week at your local market or grocery store?
  2. Use a template.  Often I’ll structure my meal choices based on protein, for example:  2 seafood meals per week, 1-2 vegetarian meals per week, 1 chicken meal, and 1-2 nights of beef or pork.  Fridays are homemade pizza or taco night 🙂  If we are planning on going out to eat that week, I will account for that too.
  3. Keep it simple!  Although at times as a self proclaimed foodie, I love trying enticing new recipes (which can be more time consuming), as a working mom I’ve realized I’d rather spend that time with my kiddo than cooking an elaborate meal. Often that means a one pot slow cooker meal, or protein cooked in a pan, while a large cookie sheet of veggies bake in the oven. For instance, poached salmon and baked broccoli and asparagus can go on your meal plan.
  4. Don’t reinvent the wheel.  Do you have easy healthy recipes that your family enjoys?  Re-use them!  Sometimes, I suggest making 2-3 meal plans, and then just rotating them throughout your weeks.  Again, whatever keeps things easy and sustainable.
  5. Try to make enough for leftovers.  For instance, supper becomes tomorrow’s lunch or a breakfast hash or oatmeal bake that can last for a few days. 
  6. As I make my meal plan, I have a running grocery list on the right hand side of what food we need to buy in order to complete the meals we have chosen.  This then comes to the grocery store with us on our weekly trip. There is something so satisfying about going to make a meal and actually having all the ingredients!
  7. If you are following a recipe for a meal, I’ll often add the website or page number from the cookbook to our meal plan, so that the first one home can get started on prep.  It’s so nice to share the responsibility of healthy meals.
  8. Lastly, make carrying out your meal plan even easier with food prep!  After you’ve bought your groceries and you know what’s on your meal plan, taking some time to pre-chop fruit or veggies, or marinate some meat can make suppertime after coming home from work that much easier.  

Want to give meal planning a try?  Download and print your FREE meal planning template here!

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