Meal planning doesn’t have to be difficult or overwhelming. Follow these five tips to help you succeed with meal planning this year.
Start small and be consistent
- Find a time to sit down and think through your week.
- Plan meals around your schedule (kids sports, meetings, etc.)
- Plan accordingly – crockpot meals, leftovers, quick meals.
- Don’t plan a labor-intensive meal if you don’t have time.
Strive for balance
- Plan meals that incorporate a variety of different nutrients and focus on creating a colorful plate.
- Fruits/vegetables (1/2 plate) – choose greens, oranges, blues, reds, purples, and white varieties
- Protein (1/4 plate) – choose lean or lower fat protein options such as fish, chicken, turkey, lean ground beef, eggs, or beans/lentils.
- Grains (1/4 plate) – choose whole grains to increase fiber intake such as whole grain bread, brown rice, or quinoa.
- Dairy – choose low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt products
Grocery shop or order online and do grocery pickup
- Note what you have at home to avoid purchasing unnecessary ingredients
- Keep a grocery list and jot down ingredients for weekly menus to avoid forgetting something
- Plan meals around foods that are on sale by looking through store ads
- Bell peppers on sale? Make fajitas, stuffed bell peppers, or stir fry. Chicken on sale? Make grilled chicken, chicken tacos, or white chicken chili.
- Buy in bulk to save money and freeze the extras.
Write your menu down
- Use paper, your phone, a whiteboard, or even a meal planning book to log your menu
- Create a meal idea/recipe box and make notes to make meal planning easier in the future.
- Plan a couple of weeks or even a month of meals and then rotate them.
- Use them nights to help with the planning process. Monday – meatless meal, Tuesday – Mexican night, Wednesday – salad night, etc.
Michelle Graves, RD, LD, CHWC
Hancock Wellness Center – McCordsville
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