If you are committed to eating healthy, like we are here at the Stuart house, then cooking meals is a must. I’ll be the first to admit that this can be challenging for our busy family, especially because I am just not someone who has a love for cooking. In fact, I can think of a breaking point where cooking dinner every night had me in tears (yep, I can get a bit emotional sometimes). Cooking had become incredibly stressful to me because I stopped following a plan.
As coach should know better, right?! Well once I realized my problem, I started following my own simple meal planning steps, and the cooking stress level dropped significantly!
Planning allows you to eat out less, avoid processed unhealthy, “quick” foods, waste less food and save money. So, grab your old school calendar or a sheet of paper and start writing. The simple act of writing things down will hold you accountable. The first thing you will do is schedule days/times for these tasks:
Planning: I like to do my planning near the end of the week. That gives me some time to change my mind! Start by jotting down a tentative meal schedule, noting any busy days or special days/events. Do a quick scan of your pantry, fridge and freezer to see if what you already have can be used. After you’ve decided your meals, make your shopping list.
Shopping: Whether it’s online or actually going to store, it’s still important to schedule a day to do your shopping for the week. Making several quick trips to the store each week is such a waste of time and you inevitably end up with impulse items. So, put the time into your planning so you can get everything you need in one trip – and then stick to your list!
Food Prep: Again, plan a day for meal prep on your calendar. For me, this is typically Sunday. Prep for several different meals at one time. For example, I might cook and shred enough chicken and slice enough onion and peppers to be used in Salsa Verde Chicken Chili and Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash. Cook rice, quinoa or beans ahead of time and keep them in a labeled container in the fridge. Prep your snacks too, boil eggs, slice veggies, clean fruit, etc. You can take this food prep to the extreme and MAKE all the meals for the week. Everything you do on prep day, is money in the bank the next week, so don’t skimp here. You’ll thank yourself!
That’s your process. Plan, shop, prep, repeat! Within that process there’s lots of tips and tricks to make it even easier. Here’s a few of my favorites!