This post is the second in a three-part series on Meal Planning. If you missed the first post, then click here to be taken to 10 Must-Have Food Items to Keep in the Fridge And Pantry: Basic A Grocery List for Healthy Eating. In this post you will find my five tips to successful meal planning. The key to eating well is often eating a lot of your meals at home. Here are my five tips for 5 Tips for Successful Meal Planning:
1. Make A Menu & Start Small
Make a menu of what you are going to have each week – include your snacks for the week and breakfasts. If you don’t have a plan, well you are simply planning to fail. Once per week before you grocery shop, make a plan for your weekly menu. I usually plan five weeknight meals and plan to make two items in bulk for breakfast. On the weekends we are less “planned” and eat out with friends or have a low-key dinner. It’s much more manageable when you have a written plan.
If you haven’t been meal planning, then start small. Start with planning out 1-2 nights per week and grow from there. If starting with dinner feels daunting, then start meal-planning your breakfasts and snacks. It’s important to tackle meal-planning one step at a time.
2. Be A Weekend Warrior
Once you have a plan, use the weekends to prep your meals. If you are making a big Saturday breakfast for the family, go ahead and assemble a quiche for the week. While you are in the kitchen, throw together a few things for overnight oats.
Use the weekend to get ahead. You can make dishes ahead of time that keep well – think sauces, soups and vegetables.
3. Prep Once, Eat Twice
If you are chopping one onion for a recipe and know you will need an onion later in the week (because you’ve already done your plan), get to chopping the second one and place in the refrigerator for later. If you are cracking eggs for breakfast, crack 3 more and whisk together to store for tomorrow’s breakfast. While you are cooking or making things for lunch or dinner on the weekends, prep for the next week. If you are making chili, double it and freeze some for another day. If you are grilling chicken for a BBQ, marinate some in a different way to pack for lunch the following week.
4. Designate a Theme Night
I am not talking a weekly fiesta, although you could. It’s helpful for me to know that Fridays or Saturdays at our house mean “pizza night.” We make homemade pizzas once per week. That “theme” is easy and takes the guesswork out of one of those nights. The key to these consistent weekly dinners is to keep it simple – think breakfast, pizza, tacos. You want to use items you have on hand and assemble a quick, easy dinner. So that it doesn’t get mundane, you can switch it up. We incorporate breakfast for dinner about twice per month. That could mean omelets, scrambled eggs, breakfast tacos or open-faced sandwiches with a fried egg. Knowing you already have one night on your week covered makes filling in the rest easier.
5. Stock Your Pantry and Fridge
I’ve already composed a list of ten food items I always keep in the fridge and pantry that I have on hand. The key to being able to prep and throw together a meal at home is having a fridge, pantry and freezer stocked with the tools you need. You need to keep the basic items like dry goods stocked so you are ready to go. Have rice, quinoa, dried beans and oats on hand for recipes. Keep sauces, condiments and marinades in your fridge to jazz up a boring plate. Keep meats, side dishes, entrees and vegetables in your fridge so you can pull them out when a weeknight gets away from you. Most of us turn to a restaurant for a quick dinner when we don’t have something at home to throw together. You’d be surprised what you can assemble when your fridge and pantry is stocked with the essentials. You might even surprise yourself with some creativity.
goperformance Food Meal Template
Watch Nutrition Video with Payden and Louis
Learn more about nutrition with this Q and A video that was recorded on the goperformance PTC Facebook account on March 14.