You plan for family vacations, plan for remodeling your kitchen and plan for your child’s activities each season. But do you take the time to plan for your family to eat healthy foods? If you answered yes, you are on the right track. If you answered no, stick with me, I guarantee that you won’t have to carve a ton of time out of your day for meal planning.
First, let’s take an inventory.
Who’s eating at your house in the next week? (I like planning by the week since most people grocery shop once per week) If you have guests that require certain diet modifications (low sodium, vegetarian etc.), keep that in mind. If not, just consider how many people live with you.
Next, inventory your fridge/freezer and cabinets.
This is crucial because most people let food go bad or stale because they fill up their fridge/freezer only to find freezer burned frozen broccoli months later and molded cheese a few weeks after they bought it. Or they buy boxes or jars of something only to come home and realize they already had 4 boxes of crackers and 2 opened jars of spaghetti sauce in the fridge. So, take an inventory of what you have every week or two. If you have plenty, don’t buy it unless you have the shelf space and the use by date is a long time away, even if it is on sale.
Make sure to check your supply of nutritional supplements for the family such as multivitamins, Vitamin C for cold and flu time and calcium and vitamin D for bone health.
The final step involves planning out a few dinner meals and all lunches for the week.
If you don’t take leftover dinner for lunch the next day, figure out what you are running low on (lunch meat? cheese?) and put that on your grocery list. Now for dinner, what will you be cooking (and can you use up some of the food already in your fridge/freezer and cabinets)? Add anything to your grocery list that you don’t have and will need.
Looking for meal ideas? There’s no shortage of cookbooks or websites you can turn to for cooking ideas. My favorites are:
- More Matters from CDC (all recipes are heart healthy and you can search by a number of criteria):
- Cooking Light:
- Food Network’s Healthy Recipes:
Stick to your list and check out the store’s circular for sales.