Eat Healthy ~ Meal Planning
For a while now, I’ve been trying to make a choice for myself and my kids to eat healthier. I need to simplify our grocery list and our kitchen routine. Unfortunately, this begins with meal planning. I’m terrible at meal planning. So, what better way to get motivated than to write about it? I came up with some ideas that I used to do consistently and that over the years slowly unraveled. Maybe we can hold each other accountable (be sure to look for my cooking skills listed under “Transparency Tuesday”) Moving on…
Here are my 10 ideas to make healthy choices in the kitchen:
1. Make a pot of chicken stock once a week (I used to do this on Mondays — I plan to always have a chicken cooking that day and then eat the chicken and a little soup for dinner … the rest I will store in the freezer in individual serving containers)
2. Have a baking morning (or whatever time works for you) once a week — bake more for the freezer then for eating at this time — prepare enough that you will have some goodies to snack on during the week that are whole grain/low in sugar. Make your own bread! It is healthier and cheaper than the store brands.
3. Plan your meals in advance. I provide a free downloadable meal planner here.
4. Buy enough produce to last you: stock up fresh organic produce like pears, apples, celery, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, blueberries and whatever else you and your family like to snack on or eat at meals — this way you won’t be quickly grabbing “snack foods” … these will be your snack food alternatives
5. Have a few healthy snacks that are easy to fix and quick to eat other than the produce mentioned above. I like: mozzarella sticks, sun butter and pretzels, cream cheese and whole grain crackers, natural popcorn — read labels and use your own judgement
6. I used to make my own yogurt — I’m thinking of just picking a day of the week and going for it again.
7. Buy baking goods in bulk. (At one point, I bought enough grain, yeast and baking powder/soda/cream of tartar to last me over a year…whenever I needed to bake something I would have the ingredients on hand).
8. Always make sure to have your kitchen staples available — for us it means having enough butter, oil, milk and eggs in the refrigerator at all times. This combined with the bulk baking items mentioned above, allows me to be efficient with my time.
9. If you stay at home continue to eat 3 balanced meals at home and plan for them, I was just snacking throughout the day because I was busy with the kids and didn’t let myself have a “lunch break”… If you work away from home, remember to pack nutritious snacks and lunches.
10. Prep foods and freeze it. For me probably the biggest hurdle was not using canned soup in my cooking because a lot of meals call for it — especially quick casseroles and crock pot meals. Once I learned I could make my own stock and cream-of soups, preparing meals became much easier. I make my own cream of soups and freeze it!
I’ve found that cooking healthy food that is nutrient dense is so much easier with a good mind-set, careful planning and an open mind! Who wants to join me?