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Beginners guide to meal planning

Meal planning is one of the good methods that aid a person to keep up with a healthy diet or achieving weight goals. With the help of meal planning, the things that you want to eat can easily be selected by you and also helps in keeping your calorie or nutrition needs maintained without the need for measuring them after every meal or ponder over what to eat next. 

Meal planning simply means a method that is useful in preparing meals before time for people tired of trying to guess what to eat next for their meal for the coming days or week and to avoid the question “What is for dinner or breakfast or lunch?”

What is meant by meal planning?

Meal planning is planning all of the meals for the next week or month before they even occur. This helps in saving some time, especially if a person has a hectic work schedule. 

Why meals plan?

Enjoying some family mealtime is important in a day’s schedule. This time is essential as it lets you reacquaint with important details of the children’s or your partner’s life and allows you some good time together. But still, this time can be stressful it every person is busy in their own lives with no time for another person.  

  1. To keep your home running smoothly without a hitch, planning meals is a good and effective way to keep everything in order.
  2. However, a few strategies and techniques should be employed in order to keep you from being stressed out by planning meals for weeks or on a monthly basis instead of being a welcoming solution to hardworking individuals. 
  3. With a proper meal plan, a gain of better and more nutritious meal awaits you, which is helpful for the family and also for your own health. 

Things to do before you get started

To start with meal planning strategy, some tips related to excelling it:

  1. Keep your kitchen as organized as possible. With an organized and clean area, work will be more effortless. 
  2. Keep your pantry up to date with all the required materials. Having the stock needed for cooking helps in shaving off good time and money that would otherwise be needed in order to buy stuff for cooking. 

Meal planning tips 

·        Cycle menu

Develop a сусlе menu for about 4-6 wееkѕ. More choices as given as a result of meals prepared over a month.

You can begin by mentioning all of the favorite meals of a family member and continue adding.

Preparing a list of easy-to-make meals is one of the perks of a meal planning strategy. Fill some gaps with new recipes sometimes while mostly using the old ones.

If you love the new meal that you have added previously, keep it in the rotation. 

·        Recycle meals

You can recycle favorite meals throughout the month; spread them throughout the month.

Balance should be a key component of your menu cycles. A balance should exist between different flavors of spicy, sweet, sour, tart and savory.

Balance also means having sufficient nutrient in every meal. Meals that are prepared should contain different nutrients.

They should consist of carbohydrates, proteins and various other nutrients present in different food items. 

·        Add variety

Mix up different recipes and try out new stuff every day. After a while trying out new recipes and food that are unknown to you and your family. 

·        Add Colors to the meal and eyes

If a meal only has a single color in them, people think of it as less delicious than when served with a meal containing a variety of colors despite the fact that the food hasn’t been tested before. Color can be added with the use of fruits and vegetables.  

Meal planning does not have to include fancy or elaborate meals. Prepare meals that are loved by the family altogether. 

Meal planning can be for meals besides dinner too. Planning can also be done for lunch and breakfast to further lower stress and save more time.  

Bonus Tips

  • With weeks or days that are super busy, it is best to give an approach of easy, slow cooking or make-ahead meals that can be prepared immediately. The use of the method cook once, eat twice is also a winner approach. 
  • For recipes on paper, the three-holed simple binder can be used having plastic sleeve inserts for establishing proper recipe cards, online printed recipes or meals separated from magazines. Favorite recipes should be distinguished using colorful tabs. 
  • Organizing the meal plan visually is more helpful while cooking at home. Paste it in a place accessible to everyone so you won’t have to answer the “What’s cooking?” part. They can also see the weekly plan already formed. 
  • You can use Google, the calendar app or Outlook in order to plan your meals if considering a digital approach and share it with family members in order to inform them of the plan too.  
  • Keep your pantry filled. If you have all the ingredients, then it is easy to cook the meal quickly. 

Mapping out meal plan

  1. Make use of the guide mentioned below for every meal of each day of the week situated on one side while the grocery list is on the other side. 
  2. Take hold of the meal plan prepared monthly by you. Add all the meals you would like to eat every day within the week. If possible, leave some room for dining out too. 
  3. Prepare a shopping list. 

Rules for Picking the Right Recipe

Some information has been mentioned that will help in selecting the right recipes. 

Select some leftovers

These meals are lifesavers.  

Cook recipes that you already know and one new recipe

This is a great idea. Create a list of recipes that you know by heart that have been cooked by you multiple times and loved by family too. Add one or two new recipes if you want. 

Pick recipes that have almost the same ingredients

This is another great strategy, and it includes having the necessary ingredients present in the pantry, fridge and freezer. Looking into what you have already got helps you in preparing recipe plans, and no stuff is wasted. This strategy is really cost-saving when it comes to meal planning. 

Cook meals that you want to wat

You would really have to look into what you want to really eat and whether if it is worth the wait before you can eat them. So this point is pretty basic: Cook food that can be eaten by you. 

2-Step Process for a Smarter Grocery List

After having obtained all of the recipes, now is the time to prepare a grocery list and an ingredient list using a two-step process.

Be patient in this aspect, as this step is not as easy or time-sensitive. After utilizing this process one time, you can call yourself a professional. If you use this method to prepare a grocery list, you will not find yourself with an extra bag of food already available in the fridge. 

1.      Make ingredients list

This list is not considered a grocery list. However, it has uses in the sense that t allows you to keep a record of everything present in the kitchen.

This can be started by going through every ingredient needed in a recipe to prepare a master list required for the week.

Then carefully look for everything already present in the kitchen and cross it out; you now have a list of things required by you that can be used as a grocery list. 

2.      Make the grocery list

After compiling the ingredient list, visit a grocery store in order to grab necessary items without any delay or difficulty.

A better way does still exist. Like firstly, writing above the recipe is another way to look at ingredients again; however, writing it again allows you to organize it accordingly for shopping purpose.  

Start by making groups of ingredients according to the departments of the grocery store. Further, divide them and put them in sections in the way you visit the store.

Any advice for shoppers, visit the frozen section in the end and the meat department at the start so as to give time to the butcher to properly dice up the meat or separate a package of chicken breast. Always keep reusable bags with you before going to the store. 

Prepare Sunday Prepping

After having chosen the recipe, making a grocery list, shopping for the ingredients, has come to the point where the meal actually has to be prepared.

However, another step still remains that need to be followed in order to get rid of cooking fatigue in the week.

Some preparation needs to be done first. It is suggested that some time be taken out on Sunday or any other day for chopping purpose and batch cooking.  

These types of tasks, depending on what you are making for the week, but still chopping vegetables, dicing up garlic, washing herbs and lettuce or even mild cooking of chicken thighs before actually cooking, really helps in the long run. 

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