Are you busy? Tired of meal planning? I know I am! Life has a way of flying by and before you know it you are scrambling to prepare dinner.
Time management, forget about it. Who the heck has any time?
Whether you are a stay-at-home mom or work full-time in an office we all have multiple things to do on a daily basis. Waking up early to start the race then we run run run; even sitting in traffic wears us out. Time management is an important skill that can help us get thru those trying times.
Who has time for strategic meal planning?
By the time we figure out how to do all the things we have to do – take care of our family, work – we can barely find time to breathe much less find time to fit in exercise and eat the way we know we should. Maybe you are never home and spend all of your time out of the house so why bother to have food there, it’s just going to go to waste. We all are very busy in life and even though our schedules are tight, our lives still go on and our bodies need the fuel to keep up.
Good news is that it’s never too late to make some changes that can impact the rest of your life. Know that even though you and I are extremely busy we do have time. Now is the time to make time for you!
T-Think I-Initiate M-Make E-Effort
So the acronym for time is THINK, INITIATE, MAKE, EFFORT. We have to first be mindful and realize that there needs to be a change. Then we need to initiate the plan and take action to make it happen. After that, we need to continuously make efforts daily to ensure that we meet the goals that we have set.
It all starts with you. I can’t do that for you and I wish I could be your personal motivator but I can’t jump through the screen. However, what I can do it is make sure to give you the tools you need so you can succeed and be on your way toward lasting change.
The hardest thing about meal planning is trying to figure out how to eat right, feed your family, get enough sleep, and do it all again the next day. Let me tell you, I personally do not look forward to going to the grocery store after work nor do I feel compelled to spend my weekends food shopping. I admire those people that clip coupons and save hundreds of dollars but I am not there yet.
I have a plan going into the grocery store and I never go there without a list. So having said that, here are a few must have items you need to get from the grocery store when you think about meal planning for an entire week.
Of course this is a sample grocery list to get you started. As you start to become more confident in your selections you can change it up – start by making a few changes then add one new thing with each new visit.
Make A Grocery List
- Fruits: Choose 2: bananas, mangos, strawberries, oranges, apples, grapes, peaches
- Vegetables: Choose 3: broccoli (fresh or frozen), carrots, spinach, Brussel sprouts, kale, asparagus, bag-of-salad
- Vegetables used for flavoring: Choose 3: cilantro, spring onions, green pepper, red pepper, yellow onions, spaghetti squash, cauliflower
- Spices: Choose 4: pepper, kosher salt, garlic, parsley, oregano, Cajun, cayenne pepper, cumin, cinnamon
- Starches: Choose 2: corn, sweet potatoes, couscous, spaghetti, penne pasta, brown rice, quinoa
- Meat/seafood: Choose 2-3: chicken (breasts, legs, wings, tenders etc.), turkey wings, ground turkey, pot roast, salmon, cod
Now obviously there are many more foods to choose from however I am just getting you started.
Click Grocery List for a printable version of some grocery list ideas
Using this list I want you to come up with four nutritionally sound meals and two snacks. Think of it as a mix and match puzzle, taking one from each category.
Examples of my 4 Meals
- Chicken breast, Broccoli, Brown Rice
- Salmon, Sautéed garlic Spinach, Baked sweet potato
- Turkey wings with green peppers and onions, Glazed carrots and Peas
- Spaghetti with ground turkey and salad with Italian dressing
My 2 snacks: Almonds and carrots. Dry fruit and dry cereal
Plan your Weekly Menu
Meals don’t make themselves. YOU have to think in advance and be willing to cook the food. If you don’t it will go bad, you would have wasted your money only to turn around and order a pizza. If there are other foods you want to incorporate into this list then please do so; adjust according to your taste and your family’s tastes. After some time this will take less effort and thought BUT you do still have to think about it, take the initiative and make the effort.
Check out this post on meal planning for a little encouragement and assistance.
GO to the store
Well pick a day, any day, and make it a routine. I used to shop every other day until I got married and had children. There was less time to go shopping as frequently so I had to make some changes. I often left work on my lunch break to go to the grocery store to help manage my time more efficiently. Back then, I had to rush to leave work and hurry to the daycare so my time for leisure shopping was limited. There had been several times that I put the kids to bed and went grocery shopping. The reality here is that we need to eat and we need to eat healthy.
We should cook 80-90% of our meals, therefore we have to find a way.
Here is a weekly meal planner that I use to help me think about what the week ahead will look like. It also helps me figure out what I need to get from the grocery store.
Stick to it
Knowing what you are going to prepare for dinner helps. It prevents you from standing in the kitchen looking in the cabinets wishing that the food would magically prepare itself. If you know what you are going to cook you know that you have to put the chicken on, boil the water for the rice and steam the broccoli. Dinner is done. Most of my meals don’t take long to cook. I enjoy cooking and will experiment on the weekends with fun dishes but during the week I try to stick with quick and simple. If you have your menu already planned in your head it is easier to execute and you will be less likely to stop and order chinese food. As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Use A CrockPot
Another way to cut down on time is to get a crockpot. When you come home dinner is ready. How awesome is that? I generally like to cook meats in the crockpot. Once home, all I have to do is throw a vegetable or two together and dinner is served. There are some amazing crockpot recipes that are healthy and that everyone in your family can enjoy. You and your family deserve real food for dinner, start today.
What are some ideas that help you plan meals and manage your time?
Thanks for reading.