What’s for Dinner? Meal Planning!

by Abby Thomas

bento-boxesMost of us have fairly busy schedules (chaotic, if you will!), so it is easy  to find yourself wondering what’s for dinner at dinner time. Looking for food options after we are already hungry leaves us with a lot less time to decide what, when, and where to eat… which then leads to eating too much and making choices that are heavier and less nutritious.

Why Meal Plan? Eat healthy and save time, energy, and money for other things!

  • Avoid unnecessary stress — instead of old, wasted food, throw out the question “What’s for dinner?” instead! Having a plan reduces the stress of daily or last minute planning.
  • Save your money – when you have a plan, the urge to eat out is reduced. Also, the possibility of items spoiling before use is significantly less.
  • Eat healthier – consuming large amounts of fat and calories is involved with eating out and eating convenience foods. Meal planning can make nutritional balance easy to obtain as well as reduce caloric and fat intake without even having to think about it.
  • Mix it up – enough of the same old, same old. Lack of diversity in meals can become less enjoyable. Trying new recipes more often can expand your regular mix of recipes and add some variation to your daily diet.
  • grocery-listGrocery shop like a pro – when you know what you want to cook each week and you prepare a grocery list, shopping for food becomes more focused, takes less time, and gives each item a purpose and a guarantee to be used. Make sure to go to a grocery store that you know has everything you need too.

How Do I Meal Plan? There are numerous ways to meal plan and everyone is different so some ways will not always work as well as others. Here are just a few!

  • Jot it down — write down the centerpiece of your meals next to each day of the week to give you a visual summary and a base to work around.
    • For example: Monday: chicken, Tuesday: beef, Wednesday: pasta, Thursday: fish, Friday: leftovers.
  • chiliPrecook in quantity — spread out one ingredient over several days. For example, cook a lot of chicken and then use it in different ways throughout the week (salad, sandwich, pasta)
  • Sunday Funday — cooking or even just preparing ingredients for a few hours on the weekend can set you up for the majority of the week. Take over the kitchen and invite some friends to join!
  • Prepare Grab-and-Go’s — Use containers! Label and organize ingredients or pre-cooked food in containers. Simple assembly like this makes a huge difference.
  • Plan where and when to eat out — picking a restaurant can be a source of unwanted pressure. So choose ahead of time!

So, “What’s for dinner?” you may ask. Planning your meals ahead of time is the answer!

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