Meal Planning and I have a love/hate relationship. I (we/my family) eat so much better with a meal plan, but it takes time and doesn't always get done. I've decided to start sharing our family meal plans to give you guys some ideas for your own meals. I usually plan dinners a month at a time and lunches/breakfasts are either loosely planned by week, just spur of the moment or leftovers. I've decided to start planning lunch, breakfasts and snacks to try and be more intentional in what I eat and what I offer my family.
Planning ahead leads to healthier eating. It helps me remember (assuming I actually look at my meal plan) to thaw or prep foods when appropriate instead of after it is too late. I also am better about using up foods before they spoil. This is a just plan and things change. Life happens so I try to be flexible.
We live on a pretty tight grocery budget, so I shop at the beginning of the month with very few additional purchases later in the month. Planning helps keep our grocery budget on track. Sometimes I have to get pretty creative towards the end of the month. I try to budget my spending to keep some money in reserve for fresh foods and milk as the month winds down, but the majority of my shopping happens at the beginning of the month.
I use my crock pot a lot. I use it to "bake" potatoes - technically this is steaming them. I also will cook a whole chicken to use in future meals and then make broth from the bones afterwards. I cook beans (pinto, black, garbanzo) in the crock pot and them freeze them into portions equivalent to a can. I try to stay away from canned food as much as possible because of BPA - a chemical found in the lining of cans. (The Environmental Working Group just released their report on BPA in canned foods if you want more information.) Making my own beans is also less expensive than canned and is very easy and takes very little hands on time.
I am trying to feed my family a fish or seafood at least twice a week to increase our Omega 3 fatty acid intake. This is fairly new for us and the kids are hit or miss whether they eat it. I also try to have yogurt or kefir daily to get probiotics without a supplement. While I am not opposed to supplements, it is nearly always better to get nutrients from real food. The body can absorb them better and there is no risk of toxicity. I know I have only touched on a lot of things I do, without much detail, so please contact me with any questions.
Here is an example of a weekly plan for the week of June 8th. This month I have lot of prep work for camping and vacation so there are quite a few meals were we eat from the freezer and just add something fresh like salad, bread or fruit. The handwriting is horrible, I know, but this is the actual calendar I am using. So it doesn't have to be super professional.
Here is the June dinner plan.
Are you ready to get started? Decide how often you want to plan (weekly or monthly), gather a list of family favorite meals, maybe your Pinterest board of all those great ideas you never tried, and your calendar. You could start slow and plan just dinners for a week or plan several weeks and then just repeat. Keep in mind how much time you have to prepare meals and how often you go to the grocery. Start slow and make lasting changes rather than have a perfectionist attitude that won't last.
Teaching meal planning is another service I provide. As a dietitian I can plan menus, but I have found that people are more likely to stick with a plan long term if they learn to do it themselves. So if you are ready to learn meal planning, I'm happy to help. Just contact me.
Need some food ideas, check out the Health Happens at Home pinterest boards which I add to reagularly.
Here are some of my most used kitchen products on Amazon. These are affiliate links - if you make a purchase your price doesn't change and I get a tiny commission. Thanks for your support!