Healthy meals don’t just happen. You need to make a commitment to healthy family meal planning in order to keep your family well and fit.
Meal planning becomes an important part of achieving optimal or complete nutrition. If you don’t have a plan for what you’re going to eat, you may end up grabbing whatever is fastest and most readily available.
This often means you’re consuming processed food or junk food. It’s a missed opportunity to get at least some nutrients into your system. Junk food often causes more harm than good.
What Is Meal Planning?
Meal planning is simply deciding in advance what you’re going to have to eat. In most cases people plan several days worth of meals and snacks. It makes shopping, cooking and preparing food, and eating, a much simpler and healthier process.
Here Are My Top 5 Tips for Making Healthy Meal Planning Easier
Be consistent about how often you shop
If you can only shop once a week then you’re going to want to plan an entire week’s worth of meals. If you can shop every three or four days then you only have to plan those meals.
Identify healthy recipe sources
Where are you going to find your meal ideas? Identify a handful of great sources of nutritious recipes. For example, you might begin to subscribe to a few nutritious eating blogs, or you might buy a few cookbooks.
Create a meal planning system
Create systems to organize and plan. For example, maybe you hit the supermarket on Wednesday and Sunday. Sit down at your table and make a full meal plan before you shop. Add ingredients from each recipe to your shopping list so you go to the store knowing exactly what you need to buy.
Get the whole family involved
If you’re cooking for a family, get others involved in the meal planning – and maybe even the preparation! When people feel that they have a say in what is served, they tend to be more excited about it. You might, for example, let a child choose one meal a week. They can also help prepare that meal.
Make meals ahead as often as possible
If you live a super busy life (and who doesn’t), then consider a few make-ahead recipes. These are healthy recipes that you can prepare on the weekend, freeze, and thaw and heat for dinner. Casseroles are great for this. Crockpot recipes are also wonderful. You can put everything together in the morning and come home to dinner.
Meal planning can take some getting used to. It requires you to create a few new lifestyle habits. However, once you’ve integrated these habits into your routine, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it. It’s a great way to make sure that each meal is nutritious and delicious.