If there’s one area that people wish to improve their eating habits it is, without a doubt around the topic of meal planning.
Now, I’m not going to sprinkle fairy dust over the subject and pretend that being meal organised is a skill that should and does come naturally, but by being disciplined enough to allow a small amount of time each week is a massive step in the right direction!
Without meal planning comes chaos and craziness. Unwanted eating habits usually result, as do throw 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 and eating is one of them, so why not embrace this fact and brush up on a few skills to make it easier.
From personal experience, some weeks I’m a meal planning whizz while other weeks, I’m well below my standards. The week’s I’m flailing trying to salvage a meal for a hungry family I can’t help but feel a little out of control. These weeks see me taking more thought, time and trips to the supermarket – hello stress! It really does make sense to contemplate the week ahead.
How to improve your weekly meal planning
- Simply put, start planning!
How do you expect a meal to present itself each night if there is no resemblance of thought? Sure, you could scramble an egg or dial a pizza but is that going to leave you feeling great or carry you on to your long-term energy and fitness/weight loss goals?
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. Form the habit of writing a list of items you run out of or are running low on – when the time comes you can add ingredients from the recipes you plan to make that week and cull the number of supermarket visits. Filling the family in on the ‘list’ also helps.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew… Literally!
You don’t need to serve meals that are worthy of Masterchef accolades. Just real food served with love.
Base your meals on what is on sale or in season at the supermarket, then find recipes or ideas the family will enjoy. Over time you will begin to grow a database of recipes you know everyone enjoys. For example, if you have mince this then translates to a lasagne 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, 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.
- Don’t begin Mondays 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 list 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, roll with that each week, I’m just suggesting if you are struggling now then the ‘ Monday factor’ could be playing a featuring role.
Make Monday a simple meal, such as meat and 3 vegetable. It is easy to make without too much thought involved. Plus, you are setting the tone for a successful week.
- Consider what you already have
For most of us, we could probably eat from our current pantry and fridge for a good week or so without going hungry. Take stock, save food wastage and get creative with that tin of salmon, leftover pasta or draw of vegetables. Ask yourself 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. Happy tummy, tick!