Meal Planning for Busy Families
Meal planning is one of the biggest challenges for anyone juggling a busy life filled with work and family commitments. The good news? A little bit of planning and some time-saving tips take the stress out of meal planning.
Challenges in meal planning
If you find planning healthy meals a difficult task, these common issues may ring true for you.
Why plan meals?
Meal planning can help keep your budget in check, protect your health, reduce food waste, eliminate meal-time stress, and cut down on time spent thinking about what to have for dinner.
Meal planning in three steps
Based on the time you have in your schedule, use a calendar, journal or computer template to assign each day of the week with the following labels.
If you find that this three-step meal planning system is not a good fit for you and seems overwhelming, do not worry! Start small. Any amount of planning will help.
Some families find planning one day at a time works best. Others plan only a few meals for the week ahead, leaving nights open to use leftovers and planned extras.
What are planned extras?
Planned extras come from cooking more of one part of the meal to use in a new way the next day.
Planning a balanced supper
A healthy, balanced supper should contain three components.
1. Grains and starches include bread, pita, wraps, pasta, potato, rice, quinoa or other grains.
2. Veggies and fruit include raw veggies, leftover cooked or grilled veggies, vegetable soup, salad, fresh fruit, frozen berries, canned unsweetened fruit, and dried fruit.
3. Source of protein such as meat, poultry, seafood, legumes (chickpeas, lentils, black beans, refried beans and more), cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, canned tuna and salmon, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds.
Have a backup plan
In a best-case scenario, you will book time in your calendar to plan meals for the week, make a grocery shopping list, and go shopping. However, we all know that life is not perfect or predictable.
Planning or being able to carry out a plan does not always happen. Sometimes you have an amazing plan, but something happens in your work or family life to steal those precious hours. Having a backup plan can help navigate times like this.
The single most important question to ask yourself each night is simple. Before going to bed, answer the question “What is for supper tomorrow?”
If you forgot to answer the supper question the night before, think about it on your drive to work, at lunch, or while waiting to pick up your kids from school. Any amount of planning is helpful, instead of making do when you are hangry and tired and it’s time to eat.
Post a list of backup meals at home.
Having a solid backup meal plan prevents stress if scheduled meals fall apart or your trip to the grocery store gets delayed. This simple strategy allows work, personal and family schedules to change. It also prevents imbalanced home meals or eating out.
Eight easy backup meals
While everyone has different food preferences and cooking skills, these backup supper ideas can help get you started.
Looking for more family meal ideas? DOWNLOAD Andrea’s FREE Healthy Supper EBook HERE (https://www.healthstandnutrition.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Supper-Ebook.png)
By Registered Dietitian Andrea Holwegner”The Chocoholic Nutritionist” www.healthstandnutrition.com
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