Meal Planning. A Healthy Habit That Improves Your Health
By: Dr. Peggy Malone
Today’s topic of menu planning or meal planning is something that almost no one does but is something that is totally simple to do and when you carry it out it will help you to improve your health while saving you time, money and stress!
If you have taken my free 21 Day Challenge to Better Health and Wellness, Day 15 gives you an introduction to meal and grocery planning. Today, we will go into a little more detail to get you on track with this healthy habit.
I never did any menu or grocery planning in my life until about the last 6 months, I just went to the grocery store and bought what I liked the look of on that day. In a single week, I’d often go back 3 or 4 times to get things that I’d forgotten or that occurred to me last minute.
I wondered why I never did the menu planning before and I think the answer for me was that I thought it was difficult to do and I thought it would take a long time.
Here’s the thing. When I sit down on Sunday afternoon to do this task, it takes literally 10 minutes (or less!)
It gives me huge piece of mind to know what is happening for dinner each night so that John and I don’t look at each other while both of us are running out the door to work and say “What are we doing for dinner tonight?”.
On those days, we would get home from work and we were both tired and often we would end up heading out to a restaurant which usually lead to less healthy choices and it lead to us spending more money than was in our food budget!
So now with this weekly plan, we are eating much healthier, we can keep better track of our food budget and we are less stressed worrying about what’s for dinner.
This can be a huge topic and today I’m just going to give you the basics for your main meal each day. If you do even these simple steps, it will make a huge difference in helping you to eat healthier.
Here’s what you do:
1) Write down each day of the week.
2) Pick a protein for each day to build your meal around (for example: beef, fish, chicken, beans/lentils) and write it down beside the day of the week.
3) Choose how you want to cook each meal (for example: grilled, stir fry, casserole, baked, roasted, slow-cooker) and write it down beside each day of the week. You can get creative with healthy recipes here. There are lots of websites where you can find fun recipes once you know what you are basing your meal around and how you want to cook it.
The best place that I have found recipes lately is on Pinterest. Come and check out my Pinterest boards to see one of the recipes that is on my meal plan for this week!
John and I will be enjoying Coconut Ginger Chicken and Veggies in the slow cooker this Wednesday Delicious!!
4) Pick veggies to go with your meal for each day (for example: grilled mixed veggies, veggies in the slow cooker with the meat, veggies in the casserole, raw veggies, salad) and write those down beside each day of the week.
5) Make a list of everything that you need for each days menu and then do a check to see what you have in your cupboards or fridge. (If you want to be a bit more frugal you can do the fridge and cupboard check before you start your planning so that you can make the best use of what you already have in the house)
6) Go to the grocery store and get what is on your list. (sticking to the list helps you to stay away from unhealthy processed snacks) It’s also a good idea to make sure that you go to the grocery store after you have just eaten. That way you will be less likely to impulsively buy crap!
7) You’re done! And here’s the thing…you can be flexible with this schedule. If you decide early in the week to eat something that you originally scheduled for later in the week, just switch it up…you already have all the ingredients!
You can do this for every meal and for snacks too if you want. I would recommend just starting with supper until you get used to the routine of planning, making a list and shopping.
Now some people might look at the steps above and say “That doesn’t fit my or my family’s hectic lifestyle.
That may be the case if you work shifts or if you are running kids to sports or you may have a job that keeps you on the road.
The concept of the plan remains the same no matter what life throws at you.
If you sit down with your schedule for the week, you will know when you’ll be home for a sit-down meal at dinner time and you will know when you may be on the run.
By planning ahead, you can prepare meals that you can take with you (or at the very least, healthy snacks). This way you will be less likely to be lured in by unhealthy fast food.
If you have a hectic family household or a very busy work schedule, the time on one day per week that you spend planning this out will be extra applicable to your piece of mind as you navigate the hustle bustle of your week.
A really great tool that John and I started using recently is an awesome menu planner/grocery list printable sheet that I would like to share with you today! Click here to get your printable copy!
If you write out all your meals or recipes for the week at the top and all of the ingredients that are needed for each recipe in the first column (divided into produce, meat, dairy, frozen, pantry/canned goods, spices and misc), then you can see what you need in a simple format for the whole week.
You will also easily know after you do your cupboard/fridge check what you need to get at the grocery store.
And….the coolest part is that your grocery list is already divided by section of the grocery store which will make your shopping trip that much more efficient!
It’s simpler than you think to make this small change and it really will help you to eat healthier.
It has definitely helped me and my family!
Give this a try and then come over to my Facebook wall and let me know how it worked for you and your family.
Dr. Peggy Malone is a Chiropractor and an Athlete who helps other athletes to overcome injury and get back to their sport. Her weekly Television Series 'Living Well" inspires people from all walks of life to take control of their health to be as happy and as healthy as they can be.
A former varsity Basketball and Rugby player, she has since entered the world of endurance athletics where she has completed 2 Ironman Triathlons, 3 Marathons, several Half Marathons and many other Triathlons, Road Races and Off-Road Adventure races of varying distances.
Her own athletic endeavors and injuries have given her valuable insight into working with athletes in her practice for both the care of injuries as well as for the improvement of athletic performance.