Meal Planning 4 Busy People: Practical Tips
I believe in the 21st century we all fit in the category of busy people. The Food Marketing Institute has recently reported that 71% of us are cooking at home more often these days. That means more people are sitting in rush hour traffic rummaging through their cupboards and fridge in their minds, trying to figure out what’s for dinner.
- The average household wastes 14% of the food they buy due to poor planning and wastage. If you spend $100 a week on groceries, 14% is the equivalent of three homemade gourmet lunches.
- Approximately 40 % of food in the U.S. goes to waste. (Food and Agriculture Organization)
- 33.79 million tons of food were wasted in the U.S. in 2010 – enough to fill the Empire State Building 91 times. FaceTheFactsUSA.org (George Washington University)
Naturally, home cooking has more nutritional value than restaurant meals, but are you maximizing your savings or adding to your stress when you eat at home? Today’s post will help you reduce stress around meal planning and possibly maximize savings.
Meal Planning Tips:
- Only shop for the fresh items you need for the week, thus reducing waste and worry.
- Any extra portions can be labelled with the date and frozen right after you make them, so they avoid becoming funky experiments in the back of the fridge.
- Make sure to include enough foods from each food group, with special attention to fresh vegetables and fruits for every meal, as well as snacks.
- Always keep an eye out for sales on nuts, seeds and other pantry items that you consume on a regular basis, so you can stock up and have them as staples for your meals and snacks.
- Frozen fish, meat, frozen fruit and even frozen vegetables are also good to keep on hand for quick entrees, side dishes and smoothies when you haven’t had a chance to buy fresh ingredients.
- Make meat a “condiment”.Meat is definitely the most costly mealtime staple, especially when you buy it from local small farms, grass-fed and pasture raised. Re-thinking how you use it can be better not only for your wallet and your waistline, but for your overall health. With books like In Defence of Food by Micheal Pollan, it’s becoming increasingly popular to think of meat as a condiment for vegetables, as opposed to the meal’s focal point. Meat fits under the macronutrient “protein”. My recommendation is to follow a moderate protein intake for better health.
This is my rule when it comes to what goes on my plate:(please feel free to steal it from me)
“BY VOLUME eat mostly vegetables. By calories mostly fats. Eat only clean protein, not too much not too little! “.
Few more tips:
- Diversify your cooking skills and learn techniques to stretch your food dollar. For instance, braising or slow cooking cheaper cuts of meat is an easy way to save on meat.
- Swap out meat for lentils once or twice a week for even greater savings.
- Soups, casseroles and salads are all great ways to “pepper” in a little meat instead of serving it in one big chunk.
The benefits of meal planning are numerous and getting started is surprisingly simple. All you need to do is to jot down your meals before you go grocery shopping.
When you do that keep in mind that you need:
- enough vegetables and greens for all your meals, including snacks,
- 2-3 proteins for the week, eggs are one of the most versatile proteins that will make a good breakfast, lunch/dinner as well as snack,
- starches should you eat them, and
- nuts, seeds, fruits for snacks
- to know what you have in your kitchen before you go shopping and write out your shopping list, so you buy only what you need.
To expedite this process consider enlisting the help of professional menu planners (aka nutrition coach) who can take the planning off your plate while teaching you the basics and make sure you are successful at doing it in the long run.
If you need a quick start
- If you’d like a one week meal plan, done for you, with recipes, shopping list and cooking tips, click here to get the Whole Foods Eating Made Easy: the “You REset” E-Recipe Book.
- This menu is grain free/gluten-free, GAPS and LCHF compliant.
For long term commitment and long term results please check out my coaching programs. Let’s work together and help you get out of feeling overwhelmed and move into simple, consistent actions that lead to true life transformation, including meal planning for you and your family.