If there’s one area that most people wish to improve around their eating habits it would be, hands down, meal planning.
Now, I’m not going to sprinkle fairy dust over the subject and pretend that it is a super easy skill to learn, BUT the simple fact is that it takes a small amount of time each week to implement for it to work.
Without meal planning comes chaos and craziness. Unwanted eating habits usually result, as do thrown together meals that just scratch the surface in terms of what our body needs, not wants…
Let’s look at it this way – we have certain constants in our life. Sleeping, Breathing… Eating… Wow, eating…. It simply doesn’t go away so why not embrace this fact and brush up on a few skills to make your life a heck of a lot easier?
Some weeks I’m a meal planning whizz. Other weeks, I’m well below my standards. The week’s I’m flailing around trying to salvage a meal for a hungry family I can’t help but feel a little out of control. It takes more time and trips to the supermarket, plus in the end I’m thinking about meals when I don’t really want to – hello stress! It really does make sense to get into the habit of contemplating the week ahead.
When I say the meal planning – I am covering the topics such as making a shopping list, having recipes to make, having the ingredients at home. Basically just being ready and organised.
Here’s a few ideas on why I think your current meal planning just plain sucks
1. Simply put, there’s not one iota of planning.
How do you expect a meal to present itself on your dining table each night if there is no resemblance of thought put into it? Sure you could scramble up an egg or dial a pizza but is that going to leave you feeling great the next morning? Is it going to carry you on to your long-term energy and fitness/weight loss goals?
Avoiding that you function better on healthier meals is not going to help anyone. You might find you can wing it in your 20’s, but yes, age catches up with us and usually with age we learn to become more responsible for our health. Enter the meal planning equation. Get into the habit of writing a list of items you run out of, or are running low on and add to this list daily – when the time comes you can add ingredients from the recipes you plan to make that week and cut the number of supermarket visits! Filling the family in on the ‘list’ also helps.
2. Your biting off more than you can chew… Literally!
You don’t need to serve meals that are worthy of Masterchef accolades. Real food served with love.
Base your meals on what is on sale or in season at the supermarket, then google some recipes (say, it’s chicken) for some ideas that the family will enjoy. Over time you will begin to grow a database of recipes that you know everyone likes. Got mince? Ok, then so then translates to a lasagna with vegetable sauce or healthy spring rolls or meat patties for burgers. As long you have a basic flowing idea of what you can make with things as you buy them and add the accompanying ingredients to your list then you’re off to a flying start.
Sometimes just the thought of making a difficult meal is enough to halt us in our meal planning tracks.
3. Mondays begin with an empty pantry
Research has shown we love to start each week with a bang, and it usually sets up our patterns for the rest of the week. If you don’t have time to write your lists and visit the supermarket for a healthy grocery shop over the weekend, at least do it on a Monday. If a Wednesday works for you, stick with it, I’m just suggesting if you are struggling at the moment then the ‘ Monday factor’ could be playing a part.
Make Monday a simple meal, such as a meat and 3 vegetable type of thing. It is easy to make and not much thought involved. Plus you are setting the tone for a successful week.
4. Your not taking into account what you already have.
For most of us, we could probably eat from our current pantry’s and fridge for a good week or so without going hungry. Take stock now and then and get creative with that can of tuna, that leftover pastry or draw full of vegetables from the markets. What is going to wilt or go rotten first? That should form the base for tonight’s dinner.
As simple as it sounds, having something like some store-bought pizza bases sitting in the pantry can quickly turn into a spectacular grilled vegetable pizza. Nutritious, tick. No extra money spent, tick. Yummy, tick!
What meal planning tips work for you?