Monday, January 16, 2017

Top 6 Meal Planning Tips

How many of you reading this are currently meal planning or have tried it in the past? It can be difficult to plan meals while working, going to school, and managing other activities. You may even feel like you prepare the same meals over and over again, which may get a bit boring. Planning your meals can be such a great tool to help you eat a more well-balanced diet! Planning can also help you to be less tempted to order out, which can get quite expensive. Today, I would like to share with you my top 6 meal-planning tips, in case you're feeling stuck or in a dinner rut!

1. Take some time to look for different recipes. 
Don't be afraid to try something new; it may even make it into your weekly meal rotation! Check out websites like Pinterest, Allrecipes, Food Network, etc, for a plethora of recipes for every cooking level and food preference. 

2. Ask your family what they would like to it. 

They may have some ideas or new favorites that they would like to see more on the kitchen table. This can take some of the pressure off of you, while cooking up something delicious you know your family will enjoy.

3. Take advantage of grocery store sales and ads. 

Don't throw those ads to the wayside while you sifting through your daily newspaper. Browse through the ad for some meal inspirations that won't break the bank. Remember to aim for a non-starchy vegetable (like broccoli or brussels sprouts), protein, and high-fiber carbohydrate (like sweet potatoes or quinoa) for each meal. 

4. Create a theme for some days of the week. 

Meatless Mondays, taco Tuesday, pasta Wednesday, and so on and so forth. Creating a theme will give you a starting point when planning meals. Even if you are making a familiar recipe, try switching up some of the ingredients. For example, on taco Tuesday, try swapping in beans for ground meat or using ground chicken. For pasta Wednesday, try a new low sodium pasta sauce, higher fiber pasta or even a new vegetable. 

5. Repurpose leftovers. 
When planning out meals (or theme-nights), remember to designate a day of the week (or two) for leftovers. Those leftovers can really add up and you want to utilize them before they end up going bad. If you don't have enough for a whole family meal, use leftovers in your lunch box for work or incorporate them into a new dish. Let's say you made a baked chicken (or tofu for my vegan/vegetarian friends) recipe on Sunday, but there isn't enough to make another full meal with it. Instead, dice it up and add it to a casserole with extra veggies, a low sodium broth, and some quinoa or brown rice. Or, use leftover proteins on a fresh bed of greens. Get creative with those leftovers!

6. Utilize your freezer. 

If you find that you can't cook a lot during the week, try to double your recipes when you do cook. You can freeze whatever isn't eaten and defrost it at a later time when your stuck on a meal idea or don't feel like cooking.

Leave a comment and let me know how your meal planning/prepping is going and if any of these tips have helped you to step up the variety!

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