Nowadays most of us live at a crazy pace, and if we want to have time to do a lot we have to be organized. It is hard to run a family without meal planning. Drawing up such a plan will remove excess stress off your shoulders and make family meals more rational and diversified. Some of you will say: “I do not have time for meal planning!” But take some time to think about the pros of such a plan. Maybe it’s worth it to find a little time on one particular day of the week.
The pros of meal planning:
- Planning saves money. The number of products that are spoiled even before you use them will be reduced to a minimum. You will even forget about that chaotic grocery shopping when in fact we buy more than we need.
- Meal planning saves time. After all, when everything is planned all products can be bought in advance, and we can even cook something in advance – we do not have to buy products in panic because our family members are starving.
- Meal planning reduces the amount of daily stress. We spend a lot of time and effort when we think about what to cook every day. It is much easier to write down everything in your spare time and not to rack our brains over what to cook on busy workdays.
- Meal planning helps to organize a healthy diet because it is not chaotic quick snacks just to fill your stomach – it is a deliberate, planned process.
How to make up a good meal plan? Easy tips
- Plan the menu in written!
- An optimal planning period is one week.
- Pick up a day for planning.
- Enjoy the process of thinking about how much time and effort you will save by simply planning.
- I do it like this: I make up the menu on Friday, creating also a shopping list, writing down the food that should be in my refrigerator despite the menu (eggs, milk, butter, and yogurt). On Saturday I go shopping. I plan the menu from Saturday to Saturday. Sometimes I plan additional shopping days when I want to buy fresh products such as fish or meat that I intend to cook immediately, without freezing.
- It is convenient to have a list of ten your favorite fast cooking dishes so that you could prepare them on those busy days when you have no time.
- Some dishes need to be prepared in advance and put into the fridge. And on busy days when you’re exhausted after working get them out of the refrigerator and just reheat.
- I advise you not to throw the composed menus you have already tried, but carefully put them into a folder because you can use them more than once. After a couple of months, you can safely return to the previous menu options.
- When planning your menu, take into account taste preferences of all family members because if everybody is satisfied you will not have to cook “something different for James and something else for Ann”.
- Try to cook new dishes on those days when you have more time.
- Consider your family week schedule when you plan the menu and do not forget about family holidays, making up a special menu for these days.
- “Extend” some dishes. If you bake meat for dinner, it makes sense to cook fancy sandwiches with cold meat for breakfast, and a nourishing salad with the remnants for lunch. Or when you cook buckwheat garnish for dinner, you can cook an appetizing salad for breakfast. This saves time and money.
Write a brief meal plan on a sheet of paper.
- Monday: fish.
- Tuesday: vegetarian (for two days).
- Wednesday: leftovers.
- Thursday: soup with meat.
- Friday: restaurant.
- Saturday: chicken.
- Sunday: “remnants ideas”.
Look through your collection of recipes. Immediately begin writing down your favorite dishes next to the days of the week. Specify the name of the dish, the title of the book and page number. Leave bookmarks at pages with your favorite recipes and cook these dishes next week.
Now, when you already know how, you will create your own menu. It also makes sense to make your meals more rational and healthy.
How to use meal planning to make a weekly menu healthier:
- Include enough cereals and beans into your diet – we often lack them. Try to vary them. If one day you eat buckwheat, pick rice for the next day, and on the third cook lentils or peas.
- Let fish appear in your menu at least twice a week.
- Diversify protein sources. If your main protein source is meat, try to eat more white Each type of meat has its dietary value. Also remember about alternative protein sources such as nuts, beans and soy products (tofu, soy milk, etc.)
- Include various vegetables. Don’t forget about seasonal fruits and vegetables!
- Always cook salads for dinner. Those will provide you with the additional portion of vitamins which also help to eat a smaller amount of harmful carbohydrates.
- Keep up the size of servings. Do not overeat.
- Having dessert every day is an unhealthy habit. You’d better eat fruit as a dessert and have fruit in your home all year round. Leave the cakes and cookies for special occasions.
- Limit the excessive fat content, but do not avoid the consumption of valuable fats. Don’t buy too much fat-free products. If you look at the composition of those ones you will see that there are a lot of harmful substances.
- Vary your cooking methods. Try to fry less. If the main dish has to be fried, use other methods to cook the remaining dishes.
- Maintain a balanced diet. The ratio of proteins, fats and carbohydrates should be 1:1:4. At the same time, try to choose complex carbohydrates: vegetables, grain products, and whole rye flour.
- Try to buy natural, organic foods. Don’t be lazy and go to the market to buy more organic poultry, sour cream and eggs from a farm. Limit the number of sausages, ready-made sauces, pates, unhealthy drinks, and ready-made desserts. Always read the labels – it’s your body, not a recycling bin.
- Listen to your body. Contemplate your feelings after eating a particular product; define what you want most at this particular moment. Often your body wants what it lacks.
It is actually not so easy to change an old habit. However, after you start, step by step, very quickly you’ll feel the benefits of meal planning and it will become a new, beneficial habit.
Good luck and inspiration!