With the obesity epidemic on the rise, many people today are interested in eating healthier to help avoid health problems down the road. That is good news. The problem is that not everyone knows what is healthy or where to start. One simple thing you can do to start eating healthier is to plan meals and make more meals at home. I know some of you might think, this is easier said than done, but all it really takes is a little meal prep, organization and a positive attitude.
For me, planning meals has always been easy. I was raised in a family of six kids, so we were all expected to help out. I was in the kitchen at a young age and learned to cook, bake and plan ahead. I know this is not the case for everyone and some of you may find cooking challenging. In this blog, I thought I would share 5 simple ways to help you plan more meals. Remember—cooking does not have to be hard or overly time-consuming. It can be fun, enjoyable and provide a delicious experience.
Let’s Take A Look at 5 Simple Ways To Help Plan Meals:
- Spend A Little Time Each Week Looking For Healthy Recipes—
When it comes to cooking, a little pre-planning can go a long way and can make your life easier. You can start by making a list of some meals you would like to make. If you are not sure, pull out a cookbook, or a box of recipe cards and start paging through for some ideas. You can also browse recipe blogs and websites, or take a look on Pinterest. They have thousands of ideas and you can search by themes, specific ingredients, or categories and save your favorite ones to a Pin board to easily find them again. It doesn’t really matter where you look, the point is to find some recipes that appeal to you and get you inspired to cook. Look for recipes that contain healthy ingredients such as vegetables, fruit, meat, whole grains and good fats.
- Make Your Grocery List—
After selecting your recipes, you will want to make a grocery list. Check your refrigerator and pantry to see which items you already have on hand. Write down the ingredients you need to purchase, or enter them in your phone App if you prefer to organize a list that way. There are many phone Apps available for lists. I use one called Out of Milk for my grocery list, which is easy to use and I like.
- Prep Food Ahead Of Time—
Once you have the groceries you need, you can prepare some items in advance to make things easier for your self during the week, when things are hectic. You can get your family involved and if you have kids, make sure you involve them in the process too. You can have them help chop vegetables to have on hand and ready to go for salads, stir-fries, entrees, etc. It works best to store vegetables in glass containers, so you can easily see them and know what is what. If you want to save yourself more time, you can also pre-cook some meat such as sausage , or hamburger. This way you will have it ready and waiting to just heat up and combine with the seasonings and vegetables, etc. that you need for your specific recipe.
- Plan On Having Leftovers—
Many people don’t like left overs, but when it comes to meal planning, having left overs is a good idea and actually saves you time. If you are already planning to make a dish with chicken, why not cook a few extra chicken breasts? That way you can have some on-hand for a salad the next day, or some chicken tacos, etc. If one of your meals includes rice, why not make some extra rice to have on hand and ready to go for another meal. You can easily heat the extra rice in a frying pan with olive oil and add in some vegetables, and herbs and spices such as Cajun, Tumeric, Basil, etc. This can be done with other grains too. You can also incorporate left over quinoa, or another grain for breakfast. You can add fruit, nuts, almond milk and more. Be as creative as you like and don’t be afraid to try new ideas.
- Keep Your Pantry Well-Stocked—
When you are pressed for time, it is important to have the items on hand that you need to make your meals. It can be very irritating when you find out you are out of a staple item, such as olive oil or coconut oil, and have to stop the cooking process to run to the store to continue cooking. To avoid this hassle, make sure you keep your pantry well-stocked with items that you use every day such as salt and pepper, other seasonings, flour, vinegar, etc. You may also want to keep eggs, lemons, herbs, and other fresh items you use regularly stocked in your refrigerator. Make sure you always check your staple items before going grocery shopping. Believe me, it will save you a lot of time and frustration.
Thanks for reading!
If you are looking for more information on healthy eating, living and cooking, you might want to check out my new book, Wholey Cow A Simple Guide To Eating And Living, which is available on Amazon in paperback and a Kindle version.