I'd recommend a longer list than this.
Our next challenge will be to plan (and ideally shop for) next week's menu. To keep things simple, we will limit this to dinners and snacks.What does this have to do with being more healthy? Well, it is my opinion that it is much easier to make good choices when you have already prepared to do so. The times when we grab fast food for dinner are the times when it's late, we're hungry and we're not prepared with a better option. The times when we start digging out the cookies from the back of the pantry is when we're not prepared with a more healthy option. And the times when we eat healthy, balanced meals with fresh fruit and vegetables are the times when we've planned ahead so we're prepared to eat well.
I actually really like doing this, and it gives me an insane amount of satisfaction and calm to know that I won't be stressing about what we're having for dinner for a whole week. Lowered blood pressure and stress levels are good for your health too, right?
You are of course welcome to do this however you like, but I thought I'd share what I like to do:
- On Saturday morning I start by poking around the fridge, freezer and pantry to see what we have on hand, and come up with a few meal ideas from that. Then I ask Nick what he would like to have for dinner this week. Usually he has about two or three ideas, which almost brings me half way. If I catch him when he's hungry, he can come up with quite a few :) If he's not hungry, I make him pick from my recipe board on Pinterest.
- Once we have a list of dinners planned, I work out what ingredients we need, write them all on a list with whatever else we need, and head out to the grocery store. I try to get all of my grocery shopping done on Saturday, unless of course we run out of, or forget something.
- One thing that I've found to work well, is that I make the dinners in order of freshness, if that makes sense. If we're having a salad, for example, we'll have it during the first day or two and save the less perishable foods for later in the week.
- I also like to double up on ingredients as much as possible. Back to the salad example: if we're having salad one day, I might use some of the lettuce to go in tacos the next day, and some of the cheese to go in wraps the day after that. Doing this will save you time shopping, a little bit of money and a lot of waste.
- One other thing I like to do is write out a weekly menu and stick it on the fridge. This helps me remember what I'm doing, and Nick likes to know what we're having ahead of time so he can look forward to it, and not end up eating the same thing for lunch.
- And finally, I leave a day or two off the list. Sometimes you just need to go out to dinner, order a pizza or let someone else do the planning. And that's healthy too.
I'm not going to tell you what to eat. People get very passionate about what is and is not the "right" way to eat. We're all grown ups, and we all know what healthy eating looks like for each of us. I will say that for me, healthy eating involves plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, fish, whole grains and moderate amounts of meat and dairy.
I'll be back on Monday with my menu for the week! What are you having?
Image borrowed here.