We’ve all been there.
Five o’clock rolls around, it has been a crazy day running around without a thought about dinner. Now, you are hungry and your family is starting to ask …hmm…take out sounds good, maybe grab some fast food on the way to evening activities, or I think there’s a frozen pizza in the freezer.
In spite of our best intentions, this scenario happens more than we want to admit. So, how do we avoid it?
Planning ahead has been a lifesaver for me to get around the 5 o’clock and nothing to eat problem. In fact, it’s been so effective; I plan all of our meals now.
How does it work? Follow these three easy steps: plan, shop, and cook!
- Think through your week: Which days do you have more time to prepare food, and which days will you be crunched for time? Those time crunch days are great for crock meals, throwing together a salad, or simply reheating an already prepared dish.
- Involve the whole family: When I was a kid, our family did weekly “dinner nights”. Each member of the family chose a meal that our family would have that week. When it was your dinner night, you were in charge of cooking or at least helping to cook your meal of choice.
- Cook a big batch of something: Use extra meat for several meals throughout the week. You will see this strategy in my meal plan for this week below.
- Remember to use simple whole food ingredients: Avoid canned, bottled, and other packaged foods with a long list of ingredients. Think about easy, healthy snacks to have on hand; fruits, nut butters, veggies, guacamole, and hard boiled eggs are some of our favorites.
Once you have your plan for the week, it’s time to shop!
Based on your meal plan, make a list of ingredients that you need to buy to execute your plan. Having a plan and all of the ingredients on hand takes away excuses. You don’t have to think when dinner time comes; you know what you will be having and have the ingredients to make it.
Here’s where it comes together. Take your plan, your ingredients and cook a wonderful dinner. With my current unpredictable schedule, I choose meals that I can prepare in advance because I often don’t know whether cooking at dinner time will be an option with a new baby. Often, I whip up dinner while the baby is sleeping or before my husband leaves for work in the morning and I have extra help. Later, I cook it. Figure out what works best for you and your family and do that!
What does this actually look like? Here is my meal plan this week!
|Sunday||Butternut squash and spinach hash topped with 2 eggs.||Plantain Lasagna||Pork shoulder roast with potatoes, carrots, and onions in crock pot with roasted asparagus.|
|Monday||Butternut squash and spinach hash topped with 2 eggs.||Plantain Lasagna||Italian Stuffed Peppers|
|Tuesday||Egg Casserole (we used sausage, sweet potatoes, spinach, onions, and eggs)||Plantain Lasagna||Leftover Pork Roast and asparagus.|
|Wed.||Egg Casserole||Leftover Pork Roast||Italian Stuffed Peppers|
|Thur.||Egg Casserole||Plantain Lasagna||Roasted salmon, broccoli, and sweet potatoes|
|Friday||Sweet potato topped with 2 eggs and avocado||Salmon, broccoli and sweet potatoes||Brown rice sourdough pizza (a Friday night tradition)|
|Saturday||Sweet potato topped with 2 eggs and avocado||TBD||TBD|
Dr. Jamie's meal plan for the week.
Eggs with vegetables - each day choose several from sweet potato, green pepper, onion, zucchini, and leftover veggies from dinner that are not needed for lunch (e.g. spaghetti squash)
|Lunch at a friend’s house||
Grilled Lots of Chicken to use all week
Chicken in a salad with homemade honey mustard, avocado, and tomato.
|Monday||same||Most lunches are leftovers from last night's dinner - Pack the lunch right after dinner.||Salad with grilled chicken, onion, red pepper, carrots, and homemade Asian dressing.|
|Tuesday||same||same||Grilled chicken with Spaghetti squash, shredded carrots, shredded zucchini, and onions cooked in a coconut milk curry sauce|
|Wed.||same||same||Pork steaks with roasted broccoli and coleslaw.|
|Thur.||same||same||Jamie- sweet potato with avocado. Jared out|
|Friday||same||Salad with pork steak||Butternut squash soup and salad.|
Some notes on how I create our meal plan:
- As you can see, we LOVE leftovers. I will often cook big batches of things that we will eat it several times throughout the week (egg casserole, plantain lasagna, roast, and stuffed peppers)
- Every day, I aim to eat at least 5 servings of vegetables and make sure to eat fruits and vegetables from a variety of different colors (Eat the rainbow!)
- I usually leave a few meals at the end of the week “to be determined”. This gives us room for flexibility to shift things around if something comes up. and if not; we get creative and throw something together! I make sure we eat EVERYTHING that I bought for the week. I plan to use it before buying more food for the next week so that nothing is wasted.
So there you have the first weekly wellness challenge. Go forth and plan your meals for the coming week! What tips and tricks do you use to create a meal plan? Let us know on our facebook page.
Author: Joelle Kurczodyna, NTP