By Megan McGrath
This article has been supplied and reproduced with permission from the Great Health Guide, a 96five community contributor.
Are you too busy to meal plan? Are you too tired and too stressed to have time to prepare proper meals?
Meal planning is one of those areas that can really cause stress if it’s not under control. We all know what it is like to walk into the house after work or after collecting children from school activities and not having a clue about what we are going to make for dinner.
Hurry, hurry, rush, rush, scramble, scramble – we end up grabbing something quick and easy that is not necessarily good for us. We are too busy to meal plan. It is one of the easiest things we can do to make our life healthier and better in general but is one of the first things we neglect when life gets busy.
The good news is that it just takes a little bit of planning ahead of time to get this area of your life under control. You will no longer be too busy to meal plan.
Meal planning will:
- reduce your stress
- save you money
- allow smarter food choices
- help you manage your time better
- turn a hectic week into one that is much less stressful
- help improve your personal health & the health of your family.
Follow these quick steps to get your meal planning under control:
- Make a list of meals.
On a piece of paper, make a list of your family’s favorite meals. You’ll be much more likely to succeed at meal planning if everyone likes what’s put on the table or in their lunchbox. I like to look on line or in my recipe books for inspiration and aim to try one new recipe each week. This adds to the repertoire and keeps meal times interesting.
- Design a menu for the week.
You can make your menus a week at a time, two weeks at a time or a month at a time…whatever works best for you. I work a week in advance. On a blank sheet of paper write down the chosen meals from your lists for each day of the week (breakfasts, lunches and dinners). Keep in mind if you have certain days of the week that are busier than others, plan easier meals for those days. Place your menus in a prominent place such as on the fridge door so you can see them clearly each day.
- Make a shopping list.
Do this and you’ll never have to walk the supermarket aisles in a fog again! Look at the meals you have on your menus, check out the recipes and then make your grocery list based on what ingredients you need to buy. Don’t forget to check what you already have. It’s amazing how many ingredients you already have sitting in our pantry and fridge. If you can incorporate these into the meal plan and only shop for the extra ingredients you need, you will save yourself some cash, as a bonus!
- Hit the shops.
Once you have your list in hand, go shopping! Try and shop mainly in the outside aisles as this is where all the fresh, unprocessed food is stocked. Stick to your list and don’t deviate. Come home, put your groceries away and pat yourself on the back. You are well prepared for the coming week.
- Prepare meals.
By setting aside a small amount of time to prepare food for the coming week you are off to a good start. For me, a bit of time on a Sunday helps set me up for the week ahead. You could cut up a whole lot of raw vegetables like celery, capsicum and carrot for healthy accessible snacks. You might like to prepare a batch of soup and possibly even a casserole. You could get the kids involved in making some homemade muffins or a loaf. Many things will keep in the fridge for at least a week, especially when packed in the appropriate containers.
I know this seems simplistic, but it really doesn’t need to be hard! Follow these easy steps and you will be well on your way to being organised in this area of your life. You will save so much time and never again be too busy to meal plan.
Megan McGrath is a professional accredited Wellness Coach, a certified Fitness Trainer and Founder of Chasing Sunrise – a Health and Wellness Consultancy. For more health articles go to 96five community contributor Great Health Guide.