A healthy lifestyle doesn't just happen. It takes strategic planning and it takes work. But as with anything worthwhile in life, the benefits are always worth it in the end. It takes effort yes, but I promise that you can do it! All in all it takes about 30 minutes on the weekend to figure out what is in your fridge and freezer and to write a meal plan for the week ahead. Then, it takes maybe an hour or two to grocery shop and an hour of prepping food for the week ahead to make breakfast, lunches and snacks easier over the next few days. Then it takes on average 20 minutes a night to cook a healthy, wholesome meal for your family.
So on average we are looking at only a handful of hours a week to keep you and your family healthy. Does it take dedication and some of our time? Yes it does! But isn't feeding ourselves and our families well a worthy causes? Absolutely it is! So we have to honestly ask ourselves why we keep making excuses. Why do we keep letting things get in the way from planning ahead? The beauty of planning is that once it is done it is done and we don't have to think about it anymore. Unfortunately though in our culture we tend to crave quick, easy and convenient. Let's break out of our comfort zone a little bit for the sake of our health shall we? It is something I had to personally train myself to do years ago but now it is part of my lifestyle and I would love for everyone to give it a try! It really is such an essential part of a healthy lifestyle!
So here is how I go about meal planning step by step:
Step 1: Map out the week ahead and figure out how many evenings you will be available to cook and which nights are your busiest and you will need dinner already on hand (plan for left overs, crock pot or Instapot meals for those nights).
Step 2: Take a pantry, freezer and fridge inventory and write down what ingredients you have.
Step 3: Decide how you could use the food you already have to make breakfast, snacks, lunches and dinners. If you need some inspiration check out Pinterest (or my blog ;).
Step 4: Make a grocery list of the items remaining you still need to make what you have planned for the week ahead.
Step 5: Grocery shop or place your grocery order online.
Step 6: Spend one hour on the weekend to meal prep. Bake and make what you can ahead of time to make the week easier. Think along the lines of healthy treats, muffins or quiches for easy breakfasts and snacks and large batches of steamed rice or quinoa. Also, wash and cut fruits and veggies and put them in Tupperware as well to save time and make snacks and side dishes easier. I prefer to NOT cook and store meat ahead of time because I feel that fresh is best and I prefer the taste more when it is freshly prepared.
When you map out and think of your week ahead like this, then there really is no guesswork later on as to what you or your family will eat. Because you spent the time planning ahead, there is no longer the question of "what's for dinner tonight?" We tend to stress ourselves out so much about just the idea of planning. Really though, it turns out to be quite simple once you get the hang of it! I can tell you first hand that thinking ahead in this way will bless you and your family so much (not to mention actually relieve ALOT of stress)! So, go on and buy that cute meal planner you've been eyeing and start planning and thinking ahead today! I know you can do it and I am cheering you on my friend!