When the clock approaches 5:00 p.m., do you start worrying about what to have for dinner? Are you tired of using fast food as the answer? If so, try this old-school trick that’s back in fashion — menu planning.
Menu planning is a great way to make sure you’re eating a balanced diet and meeting your nutritional needs. And, as every frugal cook knows, menu planning can save you time and money:) It also reduces stress as you feel more organized and in control, adds variety and cuts on all that food you maybe waste every week.
Trust me, the 20 to 30 minutes you’ll invest in planning your meals for a week will make you save at least twice that much – it’s really worth it!
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Look for sales;
- Shop your pantry;
- Think seasonal;
- Mix things up – new recipes and old favorites;
- “Picture the plate” – as you plan, keep in mind that vegetables and fruits should cover approx. half your plate, lean protein should cover a quarter, and the rest of your plate should be grains, preferably whole grains;
- Get your kids and partner involved – have them plan a meal (or two!) and get them involved. Having your son’s pick meal on Wednesday night will make him proud, get him to master the “Picture the plate” and have him eat all of his veggies;
- Clean and prep your veggies as soon as you get home from the supermarket – having your salad ready to serve and your peppers already cut in chunks will make the difference between cooking or ordering pizza on that night you think you’re too tired;
- Double it up – cook more rice, quinoa and veggies than you need for diner, portion size the extra and keep in the fridge (if you’re grilling, THIS might give you some ideas). Your lunches will be already taken care of: just grab and go;
- Use Pinterest or print out recipes that make your mouth water as you stumble upon them – visit your binder once a week when you’re planning your meals and discard the ones you know you’ll never try.
Here is my (now famous!) Lazy Bowls recipe, named after the Buddha Bowls I love so much:) This is something I do every single week. No, I don’t get tired of eating them because they are never the same, always taste super good, are “Picture the plate” perfect and save me tons of time during the week! I love them at lunch time when at work: they keep me full and well energized all afternoon long.
How to conquer the Lazy Bowl:
- Grain : cook plenty of your favorite one (quinoa in the picture);
- Veggies: cook plenty of what’s in your fridge, your garden or on sale at supermarket (mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, zucchini and bean sprouts in picture);
- Protein: cook plenty of what’s in your fridge or on sale at supermarket (chicken and porc in picture).
Lay grain. Lay veggies on top of grain. Lay protein on top of veggies.
Make it pretty, heat and eat.
Happy meals planning!
To your success and health,