In the last post I talked about getting your kitchen in order and today I’m going to talk about actually planning the meals. Here we go!
Now that your cupboards are organized (you did that last week right??) and you can see everything you need, it’s going to be much easier to plan your meals.
Make time to do this properly. We all have the same 24 hours in the day. Pick a day when you have the most time to sit down and think about what you want to eat in a week. For most of us, nights and weekends are typically the time to get this done. Some people I know do this on their lunch which is a great idea.
Here’s how I do it in my house:
- Go through cupboards and fridge: I do an audit of what food I have left from from the week before. There might be some leftover bok choy from one meal, and carrots and celery from another. That’s a good start for a stir-fry. Add a few more vegetables and some chicken or tempeh and one meal is done. I do this to minimize the amount of food I waste in a week.
- Get on Pinterest and check those cookbooks: I like Pinterest because it’s like a giant cookbook to me. If you want to eat lentil tacos one day during the week, search lentil tacos in Pinterest and you’ll find several options (it helps to be specific). Create a menu board on Pinterest and keep them organized there. Once you have enough meals stored that you like, you can keep going back there to reuse those meals.
- Write down everything: Once you have chosen a meal for a certain day, write it down–I mean it. A simple way to do this is to open a word document, write down the day of the week, what you’re going to eat and the link to the recipe online (see my photo below):
- Make a grocery list: Once you have your week of meals planned out, make a list of everything you need for the week including food for your recipes and any extra food that you need (eg: food for kid’s lunches, extra bananas, milk, bread, etc). Just copy the ingredients from your recipe and paste them into your word document and then you can go further by organizing the items into areas of the grocery store (produce, frozen items, etc.). A grocery list is the best only way to get in and out of the grocery store in record time which is imperative if you have to go to the store with your kids (do not go to the store with your kids if you can help it!). A list will help to keep you from veering off into the cookie aisle or adding something to the list that you just don’t need that week. Having a good list will also help if your partner does the shopping so he or she will know exactly what to get at the store. Make your list and stick to it as much as possible.
- Go to the grocery store. Going to the grocery store first thing Sunday is great. It’s less busy, people are calmer. If you can’t go Sunday morning, try to go as early as possible. The closer you get to 3 pm the busier it gets and you will have less time to prep food when you get home. If you really can’t get to the grocery store on the weekend, try out a service like Click & Collect from Loblaws. You can search for your groceries online and pick them up from the store–no need to go in!
- Go home, unload and prep. You’re already in grocery mode so keep with it. If you bought vegetables for snacking for the week, cut them now. Store them in glass containers and keep them in the fridge where you can see them and easily access them. Wash and store your greens so they don’t get wilty–because if they’re wilty you won’t eat them! If you work outside of the home and have a crazy busy work week most times, Sunday afternoon will also be the time to prep as much as you can for your meals for the week.
For example: If you know you’re making a stir-fry on Monday, cut up all of the veggies and store them in a glass container. You can even label it “Monday Stir-Fry” with painter’s tape so you know what it’s for. Cut the meat/tempeh up in strips beforehand and store it in a separate container, or freeze it if you’re going to be eating it later in the week. You can even make the rice or quinoa beforehand and just reheat that night.
So what you’re saying is that I have to give up my whole Sunday for food?
Not your whole Sunday! But it might take a few hours in the beginning. Schedule one hour for shopping and one to two hours for prepping.
If you want to live as stress-free as possible during the week when it comes to getting dinner on the table prepping as much as possible on the weekend will make it easier on you and your family to have a less stressful dinner during the week. I promise you.
And it will get faster and easier the more you do it.
Here are some tips to consider:
- Make this as fun as possible. Try not to think of this as a chore, think of it as taking a step forward to get your family eating more healthfully by serving good food and having less stress around dinner time.
- Get your partner to help and if you have older kids, get them chopping too. It could be a family affair. If that doesn’t sound like fun to you and you’d rather just do it alone (like me! :)) then make it fun for yourself. Some Sundays I’ll blast some uplifting music and it really gets me motivated. Other Sundays I’ll watch a show on Netflix or get caught up on my favourite podcasts.
I really want you to make good food a priority if you can. When we make food a priority, we have more energy to deal with the other things in life that we have to deal with. Food is our fuel, so let’s fuel our bodies with good food so we can keep on trekking! We won’t get very far if we’re eating take-out or food with a million processed ingredients on a regular basis.
Ok now let’s do this!