I have a confession to make. I used to rely on take-out, convenience, packaged and processed foods to feed my family. That was the only way I knew how to get food on the table fast!
Then I learned that food is medicine and we are what we eat.
That eating real food was important to be healthy. So I wanted to cut out processed foods from our diet.
And to eat real food, I needed to make meals from scratch.
To make healthy meals from scratch as much as possible, meal planning is essential.
Meal planning is the key to being successful in eating healthier, real food meals at home, cooked from scratch with real food and minimally processed ingredients.
How I wish meal planning was taught in school, don't you?
Why should I meal plan?
- It takes the stress out of preparing meals. I make a meal plan for the week. I try to prepare the meals ahead of time too.
- Produces less waste. I only shop for the things I need for the week's meal plan. Less packaging and takeout containers too! (If you want more kitchen waste reduction tips, see my tips for a zero waste kitchen.)
- Less dependence on convenience foods. If there's something healthy ready to eat in the fridge, there's less tendency to reach for junk food or get takeout.
If you use a calendar to plan all of your appointments and events. Meal planning is essentially the same. Plan the meals that you'll have into a meal planning calendar!
Photo by Emma Matthews on Unsplash
Here are some of my tips for successful meal planning.
- Think about what you regularly eat throughout the week. Make a list of your favourite recipes and meals.
- Download a weekly meal planning template and use it. Write down the planned meals for each day - breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner. Refer to your list of favourites above. Some meals can be leftovers. You may want the same thing for breakfast every day. Whatever your preference, write it down in your meal plan.
- Save your meal plans and just rotate through your set of 4 or 5.
- Create a shopping list based on the meals you'll be having for the week. This is a great way to avoid wasting food as you're only buying what you'll need!
- Schedule a prep day or two. Make some of the meals ahead of time. Prepare some of the ingredients in advance. Do as much as you can beforehand so that weeknight meals will be a breeze.
- Try a meal planning app or website like That Clean Life.
- If you'd rather have a meal plan on your wall, use a whiteboard. I use a stick-on whiteboard like this one in our kitchen.