One realization you are going to come to after incorporating healthy meal planning into your life is that you are eating better. No more adhoc snacking, and even if you do, the only snacks you will find in your kitchen are healthy because you deliberately take time to think about what you buy.
Just to recap, we now know what meal planning is, we have assessed our situation and what we require and we have found inspiration. Now lets get down to the nuts and bolts of healthy meal planning.
The Daily Meal Schedule
Sit down and come up with the dishes that you shall prepare every day for the next week. Remember to factor in the suggestions that you received from your family members.
Incorporate Theme Nights
Consider the idea of theme nights. It is a great way of adding vibrancy to your weekly meals. You can begin with just one theme night per week, for example Meatless Monday, Sandwich Sunday or Fish Friday. Kids love this largely because they require routine and thrive in environments that are structured and predictable.
The Shopping/Grocery List
Refer back to the inventory that you created (Refer here). Use it as a guide to know what needs to be bought for the week and what you currently have enough of. This will guide your purchases and keep you from buying items that are unnecessary. Consequently, you will avoid having wastage and save some pennies. Also, and this works wonders for me, do not go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Shopping when you are not peckish keeps you from responding to cravings and making impulse purchases😊.
Next, look at your meal schedule/plan and write down the ingredients required to prepare those meals. For the new recipes that you have incorporated into your schedule, pick the ingredients you need too.
Prepare the food as soon as you get back from the market. Boil the legumes (beans, peas, lentils e.t.c), prepare the vegetables (for those that require pre-boiling such as managu, do it). Chop up the vegetables that need chopping. Organize into portions and keep in the refrigerator. Chopped vegetables like onions, carrots and peppers can stay fresh for one week when stored in zip lock bags or Tupperware. Pre-assemble your smoothie ingredients and store them in zip lock bags.
As you do your preparation,be conscious of the space in your refrigerator. Do not cramp up your fridge such that you cannot see what is at the back of the fridge. An overstuffed fridge usually ends with items getting forgotten if they can not be seen and they eventually go bad. Freezing your food in portions also guards against any possible wastage.
Always try to make sure that your cubbys are well stocked to avoid negative experiences such as receiving surprise guests and being unprepared.
In our next article, we shall address how to get organized so that we can sustain our meal planning goals.
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