Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Meal Planning 101

Hi friends! I hope you had a great holiday weekend and were able to spend some time with your family and friends.  I was lucky enough to have four days off of work!  I haven't taken any time off since our honeymoon, so the break has been greatly appreciated :)  I packed my time by catching up with family, seeing Mockingjay Part 1 with my husband, adapting a spinach lasagna recipe for use in the slow cooker, brunching at the Green Dog cafe with one of my best friends and decorating our home for the holidays.

Now, that it's December, both the holiday season and work weeks are in full swing.  It can be hard to keep it healthy during the work week, especially when the temperature starts to dip too low.  I have two secrets for how I keep our meals healthy during the week and they are meal planning and meal prepping.  It sounds simple, but can be time consuming and confusing if it's not thought through.

Do you find yourself with the constant situation of not knowing what to make for dinner? 

Do you feel like there's nothing to eat at your home, leading you to hit up the drive through or make other unhealthy choices?  

Have you fallen off the health wagon and aren't sure how to get back on?  

This post series is for you.  Today, I'll be sharing how I meal plan and some easy tips.  Later in the week, I'll be sharing how I meal prep.  Every Sunday, I'll post my scheduled meals and snacks for the work week to help give you new ideas for yours - please share your ideas with me as well!

Whether you are new to meal planning or are a seasoned professional, these tips will help you improve your game....

Map Out Your Meals
  • Fail to plan, plan to fail, or so the saying goes.  First things first, map out your meals.  I tend to pick things that are quick for during the work week.  I recommend selecting simple meals that require minimal cooking or make use of a slow cooker.  
  • Plan for more involved meals on the weekends, when you have more time and energy.
  • Make a Pinterest board for organization - I have Cooked & Loved - for tried and true recipes - and Cooking - for new recipes.  Typically, I only try one new recipe per week and fill the rest of the week with classic favorites.  Pinterest not your thing? Use bookmarks and folders in your web browser.
  • Write down your list.  Consider posting it in a public place, such as a board on your fridge, so the rest of your family knows whats up. 

Make a list
  • Whatever you do, don't go to the grocery store without a list.  Not only does this curb impulse buying, but it helps you from forgetting any of the needed items for your meals. 
  • Divide your list by sections of the grocery store.  This helps to keep your shopping quick and efficient. 
  • If you find yourself purchasing the same items, consider typing a master list with checkboxes. When you need to hit the store, simply checkmark everything you need to purchase. 

Designate a shopping time
  • To save time, I try to do my shopping in the morning when the store is less crowded.  Another time that tends to work well is late in the evening.  Pick the best time that fits your schedule and try to stick with it. 

Stock up the basics
  • Life happens. Sometimes recipes with the best intentions turn out to be horrible.  Maybe your oven was a little too hot or you left the slow cooker on a little too long.  Whatever the situation, keep a few basics on hand to help you out in a pinch.  Frozen chicken breasts, quinoa, veggies, salsa and eggs can be lifesavers.

What's your biggest meal planning tip?

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