6 Secrets to Simpler Meal Planning

You’ve made the decision to eat healthier, and you’ve come to the realization that eating this way is probably going to mean less eating out and more preparing foods at home, but you don’t know where to begin. Eating out is so much easier! And there are fewer dirty dishes involved! And you don’t have to learn how to tell if an avocado is ripe! But, still, you’re willing to give it a go.

Now that you’ve made the decision, one important skill you’ll want to master is meal planning. Even if your meal planning up until this point consisted only of leafing through takeout menus, don’t worry, you can quickly acquire the skills you need. Below are six tips guaranteed to get you started on the right food. I mean, foot.

  1. Peruse for ideas. Before you start planning, get inspired. Are you a Pinterest fan? There are a zillion recipes there. Or look through that cookbook your mom got you last year that you’ve never even cracked open. Or hey, check out the recipes on this very site!
  2. Write it all out. Meal planning in your head doesn’t work all that well. After you’ve looked around for ideas that sound good, write out what you and your family are going to eat each night (and for other meals and snacks, too, if you wish). From that list you’ll be able to craft a grocery list that ensures you have everything you need when it comes time to prepare your feast.
  3. Pick meals that you actually want to eat. This one seems pretty straight forward, but sometimes when embarking on a healthy eating journey one suddenly thinks they’ll enjoy the taste of steamed Brussels sprouts over a bed of plain brown rice with unseasoned chicken breast, when really eating their own foot would be preferable. Make it healthy as often as you can, but make it tasty, too!
  4. Pick meals that meet your comfort level in the kitchen. If your current level of comfort is microwaving a frozen burrito, perhaps you want to start out microwaving something a little healthier, say, frozen vegetables, and also learning to boil water. Do not pick recipes that require you to chiffonade, julienne, or debone, and don’t pick anything that requires cooking tools you do not already own (like a mandolin slicer, juicer, or smokehouse). Also, if a recipe calls for 12 different spices and your cupboard contains only salt and something that you think maybe used to be pepper, it might not be the right one for you.
  5. Pick meals that are time-appropriate. If you find yourself going out to eat or grabbing takeout because you’re crunched for time, planning meals that require you to stand in the kitchen for two hours will not work. Instead, pick recipes that can be thrown in the slow cooker in the morning, can be made ahead of time and only need one or two tweaks to serve as a delicious dinner, or use convenience foods that are also healthy (pre-bagged salad, frozen veggies, par-boiled brown rice).
  6. If you can, pick recipes that use similar ingredients. Are you making a quiche with eggs, veggies, and shredded cheese, but the recipe is going to leave you with a bunch of mushrooms, spinach, onions and mozzarella? Why not also buy a whole wheat pizza crust and some tomato sauce, and turn those leftovers into another meal?

Feeling any better? Pick a day sometime this week and get planning!

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