Five tips to make meal planning work for you!

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Photo by: Eartha Lowe - @earthacooks.com

BY: EARTHA LOWE 

The best intentions to eat well won’t matter if you don’t have a strategy in place to help you reach your goals. You already make a commitment to cook, or at least to eat, and unless you frequently eat out, you need to put good food on the table. Grilling a piece of fish, steaming vegetables, preparing a salad in ten minutes, making a simple pasta dish or creamy soup, are just a few meal ideas in which the ingredients, flavours, and timing, are entirely up to you. “Convenience” foods may take just as long to get to the table as your good home cooking, but with cooking, you know what you are eating, and you know what it will taste like. That’s part of the fun and pleasure of prepping and cooking your own food. It’s a real experience. So, turn up your favourite tunes, catch up on a podcast or your TV shows (with a glass of wine on standby of course), unpack your groceries and make meal planning a priority.

Tip #1 Schedule time each week to grocery shop! 

Of all the things in life that are beyond our control, your diet should not be one of them. Meal planning is a nutritional tool you can use to support your health. Write a grocery list and make an action plan to dedicate a specific day and time each week to purchase and prepare ingredients. This is especially important if you follow a strict vegan, vegetarian, paleo, or any “good nutrition” diet. Grocery shop on a day that you are less busy to help reduce any stress or anxiety.

Tip #2 Prepare ingredients immediately.

Time is a precious commodity. There are few better ways to spend it than by preparing high-quality food for yourself and those you love, but the time it takes to fix many meals is mostly spent prepping, not cooking. Wash and chop ingredients in bulk and slice vegetables for recipes in the upcoming week. Enlist the help of family and friends, or get the kids involved. This completes the job faster and makes it more enjoyable.

Tip #3 Cook in advance.

It’s easy to have the makings of a meal or two on hand by maintaining the right mix of staples. Prepare some dishes in advance to relieve any pressure of cooking during the busy week. Batch-cook recipes that you love. Freeze extra portions for later.

Tip #4 Make meal prepping fun and pleasurable!

Enlist the help of family and friends, or get the kids involved. This completes the job faster and makes it more enjoyable. Prepping and cooking doesn’t have to be boring. Have your favorite tunes on your playlist ready, catch up on TV shows, listen to a podcast, or catch up with a friend on speakerphone.

Tip #5 Don’t give up.

If you’re not used to cooking, meal planning may seem tedious or even difficult at first. The cooking improves with practice. Meal planning teaches you organizational, culinary, and budgeting skills that are invaluable to a healthy diet. You will get into a groove, becoming faster and more efficient.

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