If there is one thing you can start doing today to make your household more organised, to feel more motivated to eat well and to reduce stress of wondering what to cook, it is meal planning.
The key to successful meal planning is to make it fit into your current routine as easily as possible. We like to plan a 7-day week in advance and grocery shop on Sunday. But you might want to plan 3 days at a time or Monday-Friday. You might like to plan dinners (with enough left overs for lunches?) or you might like to plan more meals.
However many days you want to meal plan for, here are our 5 top tips for meal planning success:
1- Calculate how many meals you need to plan for
What does your upcoming week look like? Maybe you go out to lunch 2 days of the week, and like to buy sushi on Tuesdays, so you only need to make 2 lunches to take to work. Maybe you have a dinner plans on the weekend, so you only need to prep dinners for Monday – Friday.
Meal plan around your social calendar:
MON – B, L, D (make double dinner as kids have tennis practise after school tomorrow)
TUE – B, (buy sushi), D
WED – B, L, D
THURS – (cafe breakfast), L, D (needs to be a quick one after Pilates)
FRI – B, L, (dinner out)
Fill in the gaps with meals that make you feel excited and prepared to get into the kitchen.
2- Use what you already have
Do the same in the pantry. Do you have a packet of quinoa or rice that you could cook up as a filling element to salads or as a side with dinner? Maybe an excess supply of canned chickpeas that deserve some time in the spotlight?
Meal planning by starting with things you already have on hand is a great way to reduce food waste (and your grocery shop bill).
3- Pick recipes you love to make and eat
It’s important not to look at meal planning, or cooking for that matter, as a chore. Whether you like it or not, food and cooking are part of life, and we should try to find pleasure in it! How do we make it more exciting? By preparing meals you and your family LOVE to eat. They don’t need to be fancy, or expensive, but they do need to be something you enjoy.
If you’re lacking inspiration, look up some recipes online or crack out some cookbooks to flip through. The Easy Dinners section of the Foost website is a great place to start.
For a balanced meal, try to make sure each meal has some Grow food (protein rich foods like eggs, chicken, dairy, nuts or fish), Go food (grains, breads, pasta, rice) and lots of Glow foods (colourful fruits and veggies).
4- Add a rainbow of colour
Make meals more colourful by trying to eat a rainbow of colourful fruits and veggies every day! Simple tweaks to your go-to meals will boost nutrition to make you feel more energised and alive! It might also add a tasty twist on a classic meal you already love.
Monday night dinner – Chicken curry. How do we make it rainbow? Add potatoes, red capsicum, tomatoes, carrots, green beans, eggplant, maybe even some sultanas – delicious!
Wednesday breakfast – banana and mango smoothie. Let’s add spinach, dates and cucumber!
Dani in the Foost office really enjoys eating an egg and lettuce sandwich for lunch and adding colourful veggie sticks and dip on the side!
By writing down your meals you can also check for variety. If you look across the meal planner below you can see it reminds you to add different colours. If you then look down the Grow and Go columns you can check that it is not chicken for dinner every night. Variety is the spice of life! Sure make double, if you like, so you don’t have to cook every night but due try and have some variety both within and between the food groups.
5- Write a shopping list
Go through your meal plan and write out everything you need that you don’t already have at home. We like to write our shopping lists by Grow, Go, Glow categories because these foods as usually kept together in the supermarket.
If you do happen to forget to buy something, don’t stress! Food is wonderful because almost any combination of flavours can work together – particularly with veggies. Take a breath and have a look in the fridge or cupboard for something you can use instead 🙂
Remember, it’s just food.