Meal Planning 101

Meal planning is an essential part of living and eating healthy. When you don’t have a plan, you tend to end up eating what’s easiest and most convenient, and, all too often the easiest and most convenient foods aren’t the best for you. It is common to think that meal planning is a tedious task, therefore it’s often avoided. This leads to eating out more which in turn leads to consuming too many calories and dreaded weight gain. A little meal planning can help keep the excess weight at bay and keep you healthier.

person uses pen on book

Here are some great tips and strategies (that I actually use) to meal plan:

  • Get some good recipe resources. This can be cookbooks or recipes websites or your own pinterest collection of recipes. You want these resources to be your go to place for recipes to save time when you meal plan.
    • Some of my favorite cookbooks are:
      • Clean Eating for Busy Families (by Michelle Dudash)
      • Skinnytaste Fast and Slow (by Gina Homolka)
      • Pioneer Woman Cookbooks (by Ree Drummond) – but I end up modifying the recipes
      • Comfort Food Fix (by Ellie Krieger)
      • Eat a Little Better (by Sam Kass)
    • Some of my favorite recipes websites are:
  • Plan at least one crockpot meal per week. I do this for a couple of reasons – (1) it’s nice to have one night where I don’t come home and cook and (2) crockpot meals usually make a ton of leftovers so I’ll have some good options for lunches.
  • Don’t plan a meal for every night. Let’s be real, life gets in the way and there’s inevitably one night, where something is going to pop up and you don’t have time to cook or there’s going to be one night when you flat out don’t want to cook. If you’ve planned a meal for every night, you’ll waste food and you’ll feel bad if you don’t cook. So, when this happens, it’s okay to pick something up.
  • Have a few “go to” meals. These are those meals that you almost always have the things on hand for and are quick and easy to make. These meals come in exceptionally handy when you’re short on time or don’t want what you had originally planned. One of my favorite “go to” meals is black bean quesadillas,
  • Set aside the time. When you first start meal planning, you’ll need more time but you’ll be able to get it down to 30 minutes or less with some practice. Write down the meals that you want to cook for the week and their ingredients. Then, go grocery shopping in your kitchen to see what you have on hand. Once that’s done, your ready to hit the grocery store and your prepared with a list.

Meal planning doesn’t have to be a insufferable task. It can be quick, easy, and painless. Plus, no matter what, it is better for your body to eat more meals at home!

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