6 Tips to kick-start your meal planning routine
29 February 2016
We all live busy lives which can sometimes cause us to fall into bad eating habits and reach for convenience food and snacks. When it comes to eating well, planning your meals is key to a successful week of healthy eating.
1. Take time and reflect
When planning your meals for the week ahead it’s important to consider your work schedule, family commitments, evening activities and travel plans. Grab a pen and paper or open a document on your computer and list how many meals you need to plan for. Then take note of when you have time available to prep and cook your meals. If you have a few busy evenings you may want to think of slow-cooking recipes and freezing batches for later in the week.
It is important that you enjoy your meals otherwise you’ll be put-off eating them. Think about your food cravings and what the weather is like when planning your meals, this will also make your meal selection process quicker. Setting a budget for your grocery shop when meal planning will allow you to save money in the long run. Who doesn’t want to eat better for less? Check out our 7 tips for healthy shopping on a budget.
2. Check your cupboards
Check what you already have at home in your cupboards, fridge and freezer. Be sure to keep a close eye on fresh foods like fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, milk, eggs and cheese which will have a best before date. One thing that always tends to pile up are tinned foods in your cupboard. It’s important to know what you have before starting your meal plans in order to use up what you have, avoid waste and know what to include in your shopping list.
3. Get inspired
We all have those ‘go-to’ meal options when we are in a hurry, but are they healthy? There are plenty of quick and easy healthy recipes to include in your meal plan, so scrap the pizzas and get inspired! There are a number of health and wellbeing bloggers you can check out for healthy meal inspiration. Invest in one or two health-conscious cookbooks for your kitchen, some of our favourites for 2016 include:
It doesn’t stop there, start creating boards on Pinterest and get inspired with healthy recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, smoothies and healthy sweet treats. Be sure to keep in mind the food you have to use up when discovering recipes.
Take note of some high yielding freezeable recipes, to allow for a number of portions that you can freeze and use throughout the week for lunch and/or dinner, like Thai Green Curry or Chilli. Discover recipes that will use up your fresh foods, like smoothies and some super-fast, on-the-go and easy breakfast options that will ensure you have that most important meal of the day. Be sure to maintain a well-balanced diet when choosing recipes.
4. Don’t forget your ‘ON’ days
When creating your meal plan be sure to plan your meals around the days you are doing exercise. You will need to fuel your body the days you are training and have post-training snacks and meals at the ready for recovery.
5. Create your meal plan
Create a master recipe list of go-to meals to help with the meal planning process. Try to incorporate two new recipes in your meal plan per week to shake things up. If you like the recipe you can add it in the future meal plan rotation.
Once you have your list, prioritise the recipes that will use up your perishables early on and select recipes that overlap in ingredients, allowing you to maximise the food you use up, avoid wastage and minimise how much you need to buy.
When choosing recipes keep an eye on the nutritional facts and what ingredients the recipe includes. You want to choose recipes that will meet your healthy eating goals, whether you are wanting to lose weight or fuel your body for training and exercise.
Get your portions right as well so that you have enough recipe yields if you’re feeding a family or if you are planning to use up leftovers. When buying chicken for example, freeze your fillets singularly, especially if you are planning meals for yourself.
Finally create your meal plan calendar, whether it be on excel, jotting down notes on a calendar, in your diary or with the help of an app for your phone. Making your meal plan visual will help you stick to it and make you feel more accountable for the plan you have put in place.
6. Shopping List Habits
Keep a shopping list on the go and add to it when you run out of something. This will avoid purchasing more than you need to when doing your grocery shop and will allow you to stick to your budget better. Our advice would be to have this on your phone in your notes and lists app.