Meal Planning and it’s Beneficial Impact

Do you go grocery shopping and buy a lot of nutritious foods with great intention in eating healthy, but then end up throwing away a lot of it because it spoiled before you had a chance to use it? We have all been there! We say we want to eat healthy, but then 4:00 roles around when we are driving home from work where we are trying to make that dreadful decision…what are we going to have for dinner? This becomes a stressful decision and after a long day at work, you don’t want to have to think about it, so you just take the easy route. You order take-out or pick something up on your way home. This isn’t the most nutritious choice to be doing daily and will also significantly impact your wallet. So why not take 15-20 minutes out of your weekend or day off to meal plan for the week to help make your week less stressful and relaxing when it comes to meal time.

Meal planning doesn’t have to be fancy or be a huge time commitment. All you need is about 15-20 minutes per week, and you will find yourself buying and preparing healthy meals for you and your family. You will also find yourself spending less money on food and a reduced level of stress and anxiety at meal times. Finally, you will notice yourself including more variety in your diet, which will leave you more satisfied than having the same meals every week.

If this sounds like changes you would like in your household, then see below for some helpful tips on making meal planning simple.

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Meal Planning Tips:

  • If you are having trouble thinking of ideas to have, look at what you have in your fridge and cupboards that needs to be used up and incorporate them into a meal that week.
  • Look at the flyers for your local grocery stores to see what is on sale and plan your weeks menu using foods that are on sale that week to help save money on your food
  • Your weekly menu doesn’t have to be fancy. I made a blank chart (with meals and snacks for a week) on my computer and printed and laminated it. I write my week’s menu with a dry-erase marker to be more environmentally friendly as well. You can just use paper and pen, whatever works for you. Like I said…there is no need to be fancy. If you are using my method, I would suggest taking pictures or keeping the weeks menu somehow for your records so you can refer back to them at a later time for ideas
  • I plan all three meals out for the week, but the most common meal people tend to struggle with is dinner, so if you just want to meal plan for dinner, that will still have many beneficial effects for you!
  • Now that you have some ideas of what you would like to have and a way to record it, where do you go from here?
  • A few healthy eating tips:
    • Consider the plate method when planning your meal: aim for 1/2 your plate as vegetables, 1/4 your plate as protein, and 1/4 your plate as grains or starches
    • For a healthy balanced meal, try to include protein and fibre with each meal to leave you satisfied and reduce the urge to eat shortly after you finish your meal
    • Aim to eat fish at least twice a week
    • Plant-based proteins, such as beans and lentils are a great source of protein and are a cheap alternative to meat and very quick and convenient for busy weeknight dinners
    • Plan for leftovers – make a larger batch and either have it for leftovers that week or freeze it and use it another week
  • When deciding on meal ideas, be realistic and consider the amount of time you have to prepare your meal. To save time, you can also do some food prep for the week on your days off.
  • Once you have your meals planned out, make a grocery list of the items you need to buy and stick to it
    • Sticking to it will not only help save you money, but also prevent food waste
    • Have a running grocery list where you just add items to it as you notice you need them will also help save time
    • Don’t go grocery shopping when you are hungry…you are more likely to make impulse purchases and not stick to your list
  • Finally, if you have made a meal plan, and you really don’t feel like having what you have put for that day, you can always switch the days around!

I hope these meal planning tips were helpful and encourage you to give meal planning a try if you don’t already. From experience, if you aren’t meal planning now and you start, you will notice a difference in your stress and anxiety level when it comes to meal time and you will notice a difference in your grocery bill if you stick to it. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Happy meal planning! 🙂

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