A little bit of planning can go a long way in helping you achieve your health goals, minimize time in the kitchen, and stretching your food budget.
little bit of planning can go a long way in helping you achieve your health goals, minimize time in the kitchen, and stretching your food budget… not to mention improving the quality of your meal and reducing food waste. A win all around!
Let me share share my tips to maximize your time, effort, money and food– and minimize your frustration:
- Plan the majority of your meals for the following week, before you grocery shopping so you know what minimize your trips to the store.
- Take into account your activities for the week (social outings, business meals, heavier workload) and be realistic about your stamina as the week progresses. For instance, by Thursdays I am often exhausted, so I plan to warm up a previously-made dish or to eat out. AND on days when I have a business lunch, I plan to dine on a salad only.
- Then, write down what you plan to eat each night and/or lunch, knowing full well that you will change it.
- Take into account what produce are in season and/or on sale at your favorite store.
- Dedicate at least one night to leftovers– especially if you do not pack your lunch.
- Plan to repurpose the same basic ingredients for different meals. For instance, make lentils and chicken for dinner; later that week, make chicken taco; and lunch is lentil salad, simply by adding olive oil/vinegar and onion.
- In addition to incorporating plenty of leafy greens and whole grains, be sure that every household member gets to eat one their favorite type of foods regularly. Healthful food needs to taste good and be fun, if you want to have encourage your family (and yourself) to stay healthy in the long run.
- Post your meals in the kitchen, so you will be reminded what you have to prepare/defrost for the next meal. Part of my kitchen wall is covered with chalkboard paint, so we all know what’s for dinner.
- Organize your grocery list with the layout of your favorite grocery store in mind — but keeping the frozen and the seafood sections for last. If you use coupons, organizing them in the store layout.
- Plan to cook the most perishable foods first — fish for instance. As the week progresses, you can prepare more legumes or vegetables that keep longer (cabbage, green beans, radishes for instance).
- Be flexible. If you do not feel like having what is on your planned menu or if you received a last minute invitation, switch your meals around. Nothing is set in stone. The point is to facilitate not dictate.
- Keep a running grocery list and train your family to add to it (I have not been successful in that department yet! I welcome tips).
- If pressed for time, do the bulk of your food prepping on your free day. You can pre-cut vegetables, cook some brown rice, legumes, prepare salad dressing… That way during the week, you only have to assemble and cook the food. Prepping does not have to be stressful: listen to your favorite podcast, music, or TV show, or think about your upcoming vacation.
- Remember to try a new recipe and a new ingredient every so often.
- If you subscribe to a CSA, have it delivered three or four days after your grocery trip, so that you have a mid-week supply of fresh fruit and vegetables.
- If you are very pressed for time, have your favorite grocery store (and/or CSA) deliver your order at home or at the office. After the first couple of times ordering, you will find that to be a time saver, plus it leaves no room for impulse purchases so you can actually save money,even when there is a delivery fee.
After some practice, your weekly planning should take approximately 15 minutes; much less than a single extra run to the store… ENJOY!