10 Essential Tips to save you time and money for meal prep and meal planning!
Rani Glick is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, (CNP) and Registered Orthomolecular Health Practitioner (ROHP, RNCP).
Today, we live in a society of extreme planning. Everything is broken down into lists for self-help goals, career development, children and family events or managing our own health care. But one thing we don’t do is plan for the food we eat!
Meal planning can save you time, money and energy!
When I plan about what I’m going to make each week, I find it is more cost effective and I purchase less stuff. Besides, home cooking has much more nutritional value than restaurant or prepared meals. It’s also less stressful!
In a study by the Food Marketing Institute, the average household wastes 14% of the food they buy due to poor planning and wastage. If you spend $100 a week on groceries, 14% is the equivalent of three homemade gourmet meals.
The question is how do you figure out what meals to make each day?
Do you plan for each day or for the week?
You can begin planning your meals anytime throughout the year! Just because your kids are out of the house or that you live on your own, it doesn’t mean you can’t think about menu planning.
Here are 10 tips for setting up an easy menu plan for the week:
1) Write down five protein foods you want to eat this week such as chicken, fish, beef, tofu, tempeh, edamame, beans etc. Mix it up! Include a vegetarian dish 2-3 times a week such as swap meat for lentils, tofu, tempeh or quinoa and other beans a few times a week for even greater savings and health benefits.
2) Select the vegetables that will go with it. Increasing your consumption of vegetables to 65% of your daily food intake, provides the high nutritional value of vitamins and minerals including the antioxidants you need to protect you against disease and oxygenates your cells keeping you healthier. Your food plate should consist of 65% vegetables, 20% proteins and 15% healthy fats.
3) Keep a salad bar in your fridge that you can grab anytime. Induce a variety of lettuces, dark leafy greens (spinach, swiss chard, kale, dandelion) and lots of colourful vegetables such as peppers, cabbages (red and green) broccoli, cauliflower, squashes, tomatoes, eggplant, green beans, etc
4) Use leftovers to make another meal. They can be some of your most inventive creations! you can always turn them into something delicious with a sauce, grain or vegetable. I love taking vegetables, chicken pieces or stew bits and stuffing them into half a cut squash or potato covered with a pesto or chili sauce.
5) Your freezer can be your best friend! Make meals in advance or extra amounts for another day. Keep flash-frozen vegetables, smaller portions of quality (organic if possible) animal proteins, and sauces in the freezer. Have a variety of sizes of plastic containers to freeze them in.
6) Mix and match lunch and dinner recipes throughout the week. Select secondary dishes throughout the week such as soup with salad, sauces on pasta or burgers that you can also freeze.
7) Sauces and marinades go miles in your food plan! They enhance the flavour and texture adding that extra surprise of what’s in a dish. Sauces and marinades are super easy to make and can make the difference between a dry tasteless dish to a mouth watering experience. Include an acid, oil and sweetener from vegetables (mushroom, avocado, tomato, cauliflower (makes a good béchamel sauce), nut butters, curries, fruit, miso or coconut milk.
8) Always have the right stock of foods on hand. See my list of must-have ingredients for your kitchen. This is the best way to ensure you’re eating fresh and quality food and be well stocked with the basics in your kitchen. Buy those staple products when you see them on sale:
– Gluten-free pastas and whole grains
– Herbs, spices and oils, cold pressed olive oil, virgin coconut oil, hemp, flax oils
– Nuts and seeds
– Natural sweeteners such as unpasteurized honey, maple syrup, coconut sap, and brown rice syrup
– Sauces and spreads such as tamari, coconut aminos (Coconut Secret brand), tahini, nut butters, hummus, etc.
9) Sometimes taking shortcuts for meal prep can be the best option for getting a meal on the table. Supplement a meal with a combination of homemade, bought and leftover foods from your fridge? Some of those meals have been my most creative creations when I have a range of foundation foods waiting in the cupboard!
10) Write down your menu ideas, create your shopping list and going shopping! You’ll be more focused and surprised how much easier it is to shop and you’ll likely have more fun doing it!
TIP: Before you go grocery shopping, eat something or you’ll buy the whole store especially carbs (cookies, extra fruit, nuts, chocolate) if you’re not focused….
Making healthier choices to your daily lifestyle is also part of menu planning:
· Eat one raw dish at least one meal a day.
· Create a leftover meal for lunch and dinner two times a week.
· Eat slowly, chew your food well, take deep breaths in between bites.
· Exercise and move daily either in an organized program at the gym, yoga, Pilates, dancing, tai chi or going for a 30 minute walk.
· Practice relaxation techniques to reduce stress such as deep breathing, meditation, artistic hobbies or gardening
· Engage in social activities regularly with your spiritual community, family life, with friend’s, life long learning programs or wherever you like to go.
· Have a positive attitude and enjoy life!
Download this personalized shopping list that you can use for writing out your meal ideas.
Rani Glick is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, (CNP) and Registered Orthomolecular Health Practitioner (ROHP, RNCP). She has followed her love of food and cooking to nutrition and applying its healing properties towards living with better health. Her health coaching practice is dedicated to educating active ageing adults about living well through food, fitness and mindfulness. For more information visit:
www.thewellnesswagon.ca or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org