Healthy meal planning can seem daunting for anyone, but especially when you have a family to feed. The following guest post was written by registered dietitian Mary Ellen from MaryEllenRD.com.
*Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, Food Farmacist RD and Mary Ellen RD will earn a commission upon purchase.*
I don’t know how to cook.
Eating healthy is too expensive.
I am too tired to cook a full meal after a long day.
My children and/or husband don’t like my cooking.
I just don’t have the time.
One child turned into two, and my career continued at full speed. How in the world was I going to provide wholesome meals to my husband and children, all while maintaining my own sanity?
Sure, everyone wants to provide healthier meals, but where to begin? So many other activities beg for attention: work, cleaning, laundry, dishes, toddler tantrums, walking the dogs, oh my!
The key to meal prep is this: FLEXIBILITY. You don’t have to be a gourmet chef.
With some planning, flexibility, and a few little tricks, nutrition for the family will become easier, and may even be FUN!
Let’s dive in.
Some benefits include:
Analyzing current habits, schedules, and activities throughout the week is the first key to meal planning. Why? To be successful, you must be realistic with how things naturally happen within the home. Meal planning only works when it ebbs and flows with your lifestyle. Think about the following:
Think of this week (or next). Write out each day’s schedule thinking of the above considerations, or anything else that may stand in the way of meal planning. Choose at least THREE days where you could realistically cook a healthy meal from home.
Work smarter, not harder. Meal planning is no different. The right equipment, utensils, and appliances make the process easier and speeds up prep time.
Some kitchen essentials I can’t live without include (*affiliate link):
Buying pre-chopped vegetables may be a little more expensive as well, but it is often worth the cost due to sheer time savings! My favorite pre-cut vegetables include: butternut squash, zoodles (zucchini noodles), kale, sweet potato cubes (like this frozen, steamable kind from Wal-Mart), and spaghetti squash.
With your three (at least) days you have set out for cooking at home, think of how you can cut corners. Can one of the days be a Crockpot or Instapot meal? For your vegetable, can you use a “steam in a bag” version? Look at the recipe ahead of time – what vegetables can you purchase pre-cut?
I REPEAT: cooking from home every night is NOT feasible for most families. This doesn’t make you a bad mom or dad, this makes you human. Planning 7 meals a week is exhausting when you are working, dealing with everyday life, and especially raising children. I don’t do this, nor will I ever cook 7 meals in 1 week.
Here are some tips on healthy meal planning.
When could you schedule in this planning time? Pick 1 day this week as your grocery day, and schedule it into your weekly calendar as well. You can plan as far ahead as you’d like, although I usually cannot find time to plan more than 1 week in advance.
With growing children and large families, making casseroles and “heavy” entrée meals are a solution to feeding lots of mouths for a reasonable price.
But is this healthy? Yes, it certainly can be. *Sigh of relief*
Chicken and rice casserole, taco spaghetti, and chicken pot pie are on constant rotation in my household. Achieve a healthy balance by:
Getting the family to eat more vegetables can be tough. If all else fails, try, try again! It can take 9+ times for a little one to acquire a taste for a new food, especially vegetables. For more information on getting kids to eat more veggies, click here.
Pick one of your planned meals this week. How can you amp it up with veggies (either on the side, or “hidden”)?
Related Post: 5 Reasons to Eat Seasonally
For years, food has remained the focal point of special occasions, birthdays, holidays, graduations, etc. Food symbolizes family, relationships, love, and intimacy.
When dinner is ready:
This week, set apart 3 days/meals where you can turn off all distractions, and simply enjoy each other’s company at the table.
For more information or help with meal planning, allow me to do the work for you! I provide meal plans, grocery lists, and recipes weekly straight to your smart phone. Contact me through my website, www.maryellenrd.com.
If you’re like me, then there are some days where you just can…02 April, 2018