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Health & Food

Save Money (and Get Healthy) in The New Year; Start Meal Planning

There are a few topics that are a constant part of my personal dietary consults, especially when they are with someone who is trying to lose weight, control chronic disease, or just learn to eat a healthier and more balanced diet. One of those topics is the importance of meal planning. After all, if you don’t have a good strategy for meal planning you are likely going to eat out for most of your meals, or throw a frozen meal in the microwave(which is fine, every once in a while, but making a habit out of this can be a problem if you truly want to lose weight and/or adapt to a healthier diet!).

We all have those moments when a visit to a local food truck just sounds like such a wonderful idea!

I’ve written a post in the past about how I meal plan, but a few months ago I started making some changes to my meal planning routine.   Most importantly I purchased these fun magnets (below) from Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  They were not marketed as meal planning tools, but that’s what I thought of the moment I saw them.

I believe these were originally supposed to be “to-do” magnets, for planning out what to do each day.  I turned them into “to-eat” and “to-make” magnets, for planning what to eat or make each day, and what needs to be consumed in the fridge.

Each week I look through magazines (such as diabetic Living, Clean Eating, and Cooking Light), as well as my Pinterest page (below) ….

….and of course newspapers (The Columbus Dispatch has a Food section each Wednesday. I love it!)

Here are my steps for meal planning; 

1)  Look through my fridge to see if there are any ingredients that I need to use relatively soon

2)  Pick two recipes that sound delicious, and of course simple (I like to stick to simple recipes, haven’t you noticed?!) and try to incorporate the ingredients I already have at home.  This typically means doing a little recipe modification.

3)   Go to my board and fill it out, adding the name of the recipe to the days I have off from work (typically I have Sunday and Wednesday off, so I write the name of my recipes on those days because I know I’ll have time to cook a meal).

4)  Fill the rest of the days up with other foods such as; eggs, tuna, veggie burgers, simple soup, or stir-fry.  These are all foods that I make on the nights that I don’t have a recipe planned (which is typically about 3 nights out of the week, because we eat leftovers twice a week, from the recipes I made the night before).  Do you see the “To Do” section of the magnets?  On that box, I have foods written that need eating soon, and the dates by when they need eaten (Example: eggs; eat by Sunday or leftover chicken dish; eat by Thursday).  This helps me plan meals too.

5)  Write out my grocery list, and find the time to shop!  I typically go grocery shopping twice a week (on my two days off).

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