As we head into the holiday season, get busier, and more distracted, I thought I would post 15 Tips to Keep Meal Planning Easy. Cooking shouldn’t be complicated – save that for the chef at your favorite fancy restaurant. Your choice to live and eat simply will be key to surviving the 2017 Holiday Season, and flourishing throughout 2018.
So, Here are 15 Tips to Make Meal Planning Easy:
- Plan meals around your 3 basic food buckets: Vegetable or Fruit Food bucket, Starch Food Bucket, and a Protein Food Bucket. Put the heaviest emphasis on your Vegetable and Fruit Food Bucket
- Make extra each night so you have lunch made for the next day. I always say, “the best lunch is leftover dinner!”
- Prepare at least one meal per week in a large batch and freeze ahead for another date.
- Make a “family weekly planner” to pinpoint your busiest days - plan easy meals for those days, such as easy micro-waved vegetables, tossed salads, quick stir-fry starchy vegetable zoodles, and baked or broiled fish.
- Make busy days easier by chopping vegetables, thawing out frozen meals, or cooking rice on the weekends or on days when you are less busy.
- Keep your pantry stocked with tomato puree and tomato sauce, par-boiled microwaveable whole grain rice or quinoa packets (not the pre-seasoned kind), whole grain pastas, as well as canned beans, tomatoes, and fish.
- To add flavor, stock up on flavored olive oils and vinegars, smoked or flavored salt, lemon and lime juice, and dried herbs.
- Take advantage of the shelf life of root vegetables and squashes. Keep on hand: butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash, yams and sweet potatoes, red, blue or yellow potatoes, and beets.
- Keep your freezer stocked with frozen vegetables: artichoke hearts, riced cauliflower, broccoli, or string beans.
- Plan for healthy snacks and mini-meals: Nuts, Pre-Cut Veggies, Plain Yogurt, Fruit, Whole Grain Rice Cakes, and Nut Butters.
- Keep your favorite recipes organized and handy.
- Keep a list in the kitchen where family members can record what they need when they run out of to ensure fewer trips to the store
- Go to the grocery store during off-peak hours such as early morning or late evening. Ask the grocer when they stock your favorite items so you don't have to make multiple trips.
- For some people, a three day plan is easier than planning a whole week. If you don’t mind, make 2 trips to the store per week to keep perishables, like leafy greens and berries fresh.
- Encourage involvement from all family members and extended family if they live close: children, teens, spouses, and grandparents.
And because I see it ALL the time, this year, as the holiday season approaches, make a pact with yourself to make sure you take time for yourself! This includes making time to exercise, meditate, pray, breathe (yes, breathe!), and be grateful.
- Exercise is a great way to inspire a daily routine to re-commit to your health goals, like eating right, disrobing stress, and increasing endorphins and serotonin - your "I feel good about myself and my life" hormones.
- Taking time to meditate, pray, or breathe deeply is a great way to feel empowered, positive, and refresh your state of mind. This could be 3-5 minutes of your time in the morning, or a habit you do throughout the day.
- And if the season gets you down - make an effort to look outside yourself - volunteer, donate your time, or join an exercise group. You might surprise yourself to know that your one small kind gesture could make a world of difference in someone's day.
- Most of all, take time be grateful for the little things in life, and enjoy your family and friends.
To learn more about how to form new habits in order to live a healthier lifestyle, exercise, and plan meals full of whole foods that heal, nurture, and maintain a healthy mind, body, and soul, contact me at B3yond Nutrition LLC 973.852.3335