Make a Plan - A Meal Plan

My clients often all complain of having the same barrier to healthy living: time. Everyone is busy. We live in a busy world that promotes being busy as a positive thing. However, more and more people complain that they are too busy to make time for healthy eating. So, how can you still live a healthy lifestyle in such a busy world?

Planning and organization is key. I am a firm believer that one of the best ways to eat healthy is to plan on eating healthy. By thinking ahead about what foods you would like to eat, and then buying those foods, it makes sense that you would have a better chance of eating those foods.  But when do you find time to meal plan? And how do you ensure that the plan isn’t going to be thrown out the door when your busy life gets in the way?  Here are some tips and tools to help!

Make the meal plan work around your schedule.

Set aside some time in your week to do the planning and stick to it! It doesn't have to be Sunday night. If Tuesday evening you have some extra energy and nothing to do, then Tuesday is your meal planning day! 

First plan the meals that you have time to cook.

Look at the upcoming week and take note of when you are going to have time for meal preparation. Try to be realistic – it is OK not to cook every single meal every day. I certainly don’t! Start your plan for the meals when you are going to have the most time to cook. Whether it is lunch, or dinner doesn’t matter. It is having the time that matters. 

Cook meals that create leftovers.

Fill in the gaps of other meals with either leftovers or simple meals/snacks (think soups, stews, sandwiches, hummus with veggies, salads, etc).

What about breakfast?

How much time do you have in the morning? Choose recipes that match your time available. There are tons of quick and easy breakfast recipes out there including one of my favourites; overnight oats! Check out my recipe!

 Check the fridge and pantry before you go to the store

I have to admit, I don't always do this. That is why I have 3 bags of brown rice and 2 bottles of ground ginger in my pantry. By checking what you have "in-stock" you save money and space in your kitchen. This will ensure that you use up the produce that you have on hand instead of letting it go to waste.

In regards to tools, meal planning doesn’t have to be complex. It can be as simple as scribbling a plan down on a scrap piece of paper, or in the corner of your daytimer. It can be as complex as having a computer system that will calculate out a nutrient profile for the whole week’s menu and provide you with a grocery list. There are so many tools out there, find one that suits you, and stick to it! Practice (and planning!) builds healthy habits. Here is a list of a few tools to get you started. 

  1. Old School - Write it down!
    • Whether its a sheet of paper, a calendar or a space in your daytimer this version is a classic for a reason. My favourite method is to use a whiteboard calendar that I got from the dollar store. Then I could easily make changes without wasting paper!
  2. Meal Planning Books
    • Although I do not believe that you need to spend a bunch of money just to meal plan, having something pretty to plan in sometimes can help to get you started. Check out your local bookstore to see what they have in stock. 
  3. Apps/Websites
    • There are tons of apps for your phone to help you with meal planning. Here are two of the best rated ones:
      • Pepperplate - This app works with Apple, Android, and Kindle and allows you to digitally organize your recipes, plan your menus, and make grocery lists! Limitations are that you often need to upload recipes manually, especially if trying to save recipes from blogs. On the plus side, its free!
      • PlantoEat - Although not yet available in a mobile format, this website is easy to use and organize. It can automatically create a grocery list, adapting recipes for different numbers of guests and saving recipes from your favourite sites with just the click of a button. The only downfall is that it costs $4.95/month after the first month of use.

Let me know which meal planning tools you love!