For most people, meal planning conjures images of long, tiring hours stooped over kitchen counters. Thinking about how stressful meal prepping is, makes getting fast food at the local store the best option. However, convenient ready-meals push us far away from our health goals.
Moreover, we spend a lot of money on gym subscriptions that fail to yield worthwhile weight loss outcomes. So, if you have been pumping iron for the last couple of months without much to show, perhaps it’s time to give healthy meal planning a chance. You need a few easy tips to help you make quick meal plans.
Healthy meal planning will help you to be more efficient in deciding the types of food and quantities you take. This will enable you to consume healthy food, control your weight and reduce the amount of food that goes to waste. Read on to learn ten easy tips for making healthy meal plans for your family.
Develop Healthy Meal Planning Habits Gradually
Most people give up planning healthy meals because they get overwhelmed. Do not get bogged down making 30 containers of food for the week. One of the best easy healthy meal planning tips is starting slowly and growing gradually. You can start by prepping your groceries. Chop frequently used vegetables like peppers, broccoli, beets, cabbage, spinach, asparagus, and onions. Prepping vegetables makes it easy for you to make quick healthy meals even after a long day at work.
That way, when you have leftover brown rice, you can quickly make a stir-fry or omelet without taking out your knife and chopping board. You could also use the vegetables to make a vegetarian pizza or a nice vegetable dressing for a leftover pizza when you crave junk food. You can eat what you love while getting your body’s nutrients.
You can also begin meal-planning habits by prepping fruits. Fruits are also an important part of your diet. They not only provide you with nutrients, but they also make your meals exciting. For example, add chopped mangoes and pineapples to your stir-fries or add pears, peaches and apples to your salad as toppers. Moreover, you can add bananas, berries and cherries to your shakes for breakfast. Prepping fruits also helps you to eat plenty of fruits in season.
Start With Meals Plans You Are Familiar With
Planning for the first meal is long and tiresome for most beginners. So, instead of making all meals at a go, decide which meals you will begin with. You can go for breakfast if you often leave for work without eating or dinner if you often come home late. Just think of the meal you struggle to prepare and begin with it.
It would be best if you also began with recipes you are familiar with. That way, you will make meals your family loves without wasting time or resources on trial and error. Planning for a meal you are familiar with also saves your family the agony of trying to adapt to a completely different eating habit. For example, if your family is used to taking Chinese food, you can prepare vegetables and store them in the fridge for your teenagers to add to the noodles when making lunch by themselves.
Once you get the hang of prepping meals using these easy healthy meal planning tips, you can gradually progress to new recipes without overwhelming your family with new dishes. It is important to remember that your body needs enough time to adapt to a healthy diet as you transition. Denying yourself or your family this transition time could prevent you from maintaining a healthy diet.
Prep Multi-use Foods
Prepping multi-use foods is one of the quickest, easy, healthy meal planning tips for beginners. If this is your first time planning for meals, you do not need to prepare several perfectly portioned meals, including side dishes. You can prep different types of food and then use them for cooking various meals over two to three days.
For example, you can cook chicken and then use it throughout the week to make tacos, salads, rice or pasta. Preparing dinner for your family also becomes much easier when planning the main dish. Knowing that you need to warm the main dish and make a quick side dish like roasted veggies makes cooking an enjoyable task.
Dedicate Food Baskets for Meal Planning
You can also make meal planning easier by utilizing the food basket. This is one of the best easy healthy meal planning tips to ensure you have all the ingredients to plan and prep your meals when you need them. Having all the ingredients you need for planning your meals eliminates the need for time spent going to the grocery store.
You can make this process even easier by getting a food basket delivery before you begin to plan for your meals. It becomes impossible to plan healthy meals because someone took one or more of the ingredients required. Dedicating food baskets for this purpose could train your family not to use the ingredients for any other purpose.
Moreover, food baskets allow you to get assorted ingredients for healthy meals that will keep the doctors away. They are also a great way of avoiding overbuying foodstuff that will end up in your garbage at the end of the week. Before you get a food basket delivered, plan for the ingredients you need to avoid getting random foodstuffs that you do not need.
Plan for Meals Safely
There are a few basic rules you need to keep in mind when planning and prepping meals. Firstly, you should not reheat prepped meals if they have been fully cooked. This rule of thumb is especially applicable to fresh seafood. The first thing that should come to mind when making prepped seafood like salmon is whether it is safe to reheat, especially when it is fully cooked.
The second rule you should be aware of is that all meals should be refrigerated below 40 degrees Celsius. Once the prepped meals are fully cooked, you should refrigerate them for up to four days before you reheat them. Many people also wonder whether it is safe to heat food in BPA plastic containers. Although these containers are safe, PP plastics are considered much safer for reheating food than other plastics.
When prepping fruits, avoid washing them until you are ready to use them. However, you can wash and dry them thoroughly before refrigerating them. Wrap them with a paper towel to absorb all moisture before refrigerating. Do not store vegetables with ethylene-producing fruits like bananas, apples, and honeydew melons. Ethylene causes immature ripening of other fruits and spoilage in vegetables. As you prepare your wellness plan, remember safety comes first, and keep these meal planning and preparation rules at your fingertips.
Invest in Meal Planning and Prepping Tools
Easy healthy meal planning tips also include investing in good quality equipment and tools. It would be best if you had a slow cooker to whip up meals that you can freeze for use later in the week or month. You must also invest in enough food storage containers if you prepped meals weekly. You can store your meal preps in plastic containers.
However, investing in containers of Pyrex is advisable because they are airtight and stain resistant. You should also consider kitchen remodeling, especially if you have granite countertops. Granite countertops are porous. They absorb oil, flavors, and colors if they are not regularly sealed. So if you frequently prep meals on a granite countertop, it will be stained and infested with bacteria. Do not make your countertop a cooking oil disposal top. Remodel your kitchen.
Investment in a set of good-quality city kitchen knives is one of the most valuable easy healthy planning tips. Good quality knives that are frequently sharpened make meal prepping easy and quick. Sharp knives also allow you to practice your chopping, slicing, and dicing skills and techniques.
Turn Meal Planning into a Family Affair
The decision on what a family consumes daily should not be a one-person job. Everybody in the family should make a menu for each meal a week. Once the menu is decided, you should involve everyone in prepping the meals. You can do this on Saturday or Sunday afternoon. You can involve the younger children in washing the fruits and vegetables, mixing ingredients or reading out recipes.
The older kids should be allowed a chance to hone their culinary skills. They can chop, slice and help in cooking or baking. An extra set of hands is always good to help with the dishes. However, you should watch them and be ready to deal with accidents like kitchen cuts or a burn in case something goes wrong.
Consider multi-tasking when selecting the most suitable easy healthy meal planning tips. Multi-tasking lets you make the most of your time when planning and prepping meals. It also enables you to make the most of your kitchen space. For example, you can be roasting a turkey, steaming some white rice, and simmering some spicy vegetable stew while chopping vegetables for the week.
Get Produce in Season
Get produce that is in the season to save on cost and maximize the nutrient value of the food at its peak. Moreover, in-season food is fresher, sweeter, and has a refined taste. When fruits and vegetables grown naturally are harvested and consumed in their season, they tend to have a greater nutritional value and add more flavor to your meals.
Spice up Your Meals
Easy healthy meal planning tips are not intended to make your palette all green and boring. They are intended to make your plate as healthy as it is exciting. One of the best ways to achieve this goal is by adding a bit of condiment and spices to your sauces. You can also interchange simple meals such as whole grain meals with recipes with extra seasoning. Like garlic and pepper. Seasoning creates a variety of mouth-watering flavors that make meal planning something you look forward to.
Benefits of Meal Planning
Meal Planning Saves Time
Planning your weekly meals helps you manage your time better. It helps you decide what to eat throughout the week, so you won’t spend much time deciding on the menu and buying groceries in a rush after work. It also reduces aimless wandering to the store as you decide what to buy or cook.
Meal Planning Enables You to Have Food Type and Portion Control
You can use these easy healthy meal planning tips to lose weight. Planning and prepping meals in advance prevents you from rushing to the convenience store for junk food whenever you feel hungry. You have more control over what you eat according to your health needs. If, for example, you want to improve the condition of your skin, you will include more fruits and vegetables in your meals.
If you want to improve your vision care, you will eat more foods that will increase your eyesight health, like fish. Moreover, suppose you have pre-existing conditions that cause lower back pain, elbow pain, and neck pain due to decreasing bone density. In that case, you can prep meals with high calcium and phosphorus nutrients to make your bones healthier and reduce your visits to the osteopathic doctor.
With a diet change, now is the best time to take your health seriously. Meal planning may have been difficult for you in the past, but with the easy healthy meal planning tips above, we hope meal planning and prepping will be an exciting rather than tiring experience. Feel free to reach out for more tips and individualized assistance in meal planning.
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