It’s easy to say you’re going to eat healthier this week. You tell yourself you’re going to have a good breakfast every morning, eat salads for lunch, and nourish your family with a home cooked meal each night for dinner. And then life gets the better of you. By mid-week, you’re reaching for the frozen pizza and the bag of salad in the back of the fridge.
What went wrong?
In most cases, your failure to plan was the reason you didn’t succeed. If you want to eat well without the stress of the last-minute scramble, consider planning your meals in advance. Setting aside time to do some meal planning at the start of each week means you set yourself up to succeed. And it doesn’t have to take too much time or effort. If you’re ready to finally see a change in your diet and feel better about the things you eat, the following meal planning hacks are sure to make meal planning easy.
Meal Planning Hacks
#1 Write it all down.
Don’t let your meal plan live in your mind. Put it on paper or tap it into your favorite meal planning app.
To start the meal planning process, make a list of the things you already have in your kitchen that you need to use up. The veggies that only have a few more days before they spoil or the rice noodles in the cupboard you completely forgot you bought. Choose recipes that incorporate the ingredients you have on hand and supplement your shopping list with the things you don’t already have.
Don’t just write down your grocery list – write down your actual meal plan, too! If you’re only feeding yourself, it’s fine to keep this on your phone, but if you’re responsible for making meals for your family, post a menu on the fridge so everyone knows what to expect.
#2 Embrace themed nights.
If every Sunday is soup night, it makes it much easier to figure out what’s for dinner. You don’t have to consider all the options in the world – just the ones that fit the category. Come up with clever themes to fit the days, like Taco Tuesday and Slow-Cooker Saturdays, or keep things flexible by simply assigning different “nights” like “pasta night” or “breakfast for dinner night” to alternating days throughout the week.
#3 Find favorite recipes.
You shouldn’t get into the habit of cooking the same thing all the time, but a little consistency goes a long way in making meal planning a breeze. Find a few easy meals that your family absolutely adores and make them staples in your menu rotation. Think things like sheet pan dinners and one-pot pastas – meals that don’t require too much effort or produce much mess, but yield tasty results.
#4 Ask ‘em what they want.
If you’re cooking for more than just yourself, so it’s only fair to take your family’s opinions into consideration. You don’t make all the decisions for yourself! Ask your family what they’d like to eat this week and write it down. If everyone’s dying for veggie burgers, it might be time to add it back to the menu. This is especially helpful if you’re feeding picky kids. If they feel like they’ve had a say in choosing what they eat, they’ll be more inclined to actually eat it when dinner time rolls around!
#5 Don’t forget to meal prep.
Our favourite meal planning hack! Dedicate an hour or two on Sunday to prepping your food for the week. Put on your favorite playlist, pull your hair back, and get to work in the kitchen. Wash and store your fruits. Chop the veggies you’ll use in salads for lunch and for Tuesday’s stir-fry for dinner. Prep and freeze anything you think may spoil before you can cook it. If healthy snacks are part of your meal plan, pop some popcorn or make some homemade hummus to eat throughout the week. When it comes time to cook, you’ll be grateful you took care of some of the work in advance.
Meal planning doesn’t have to be hard! Once you make these meal planning hacks part of your weekly routine you’re sure to make meal planning an essential part of your lifestyle. Meal planning is easy when done right, and can save you loads of time and energy – while feeding your family well!