Meal planning is hard. I get it. I totally do. And you know what, that’s ok. It’s ok to struggle with something. As much as I struggle with meal planning, I know that it’s the best thing for me and my husband. I know that I have more success of eating healthy if I plan ahead and go grocery shopping for the week.
These tips are things that help me with the struggles of meal planning.
On the weekends (specifically Saturdays), there are so many better things I’d rather be doing than spending about an hour deciding what to make for the week. Especially when the weather is gorgeous – like it is now. I want to be outside, shopping, or just walking around. It doesn’t really matter, but I definitely don’t want to be sitting and coming up with a grocery list.
Taking the time to actually write down what I am going to buy makes me more accountable to actually buy the food and cook, like I said I would. Just set aside 30-45 minutes while your husband watches some show on the DVR and go to town. I usually pull out all my cookbooks and start looking through them to find recipes I want to make that next week.
Don’t over commit
Some weeks I get so excited about cooking that I get too ambitious. I think I will cook 4-5 meals that week, and that just isn’t realistic to our current lifestyle. We go out to eat at least once a week and then I like to have leftovers the other days. Find what works best for you and your family and use that as a guide. I found that 3 dinners/meals are the best for us. Any more and I am more unlikely to want to cook them.
Buy all your groceries over the weekend
Trust me on this one. Your meat will last – I promise – almost all week. And those veggies will typically stay fresh all week as well. Why is this better than going to the store every day? Well, you will kill the urge to buy junk food if you shop all during one day – and buy only what’s on your list.
My husband and I have been doing this for a while now (I sometimes don’t have the energy to go grocery shopping after work, so I go on Sundays), and we have had great success with it so far. One thing is that we go together. He will put the veggies into baggies for me and I will run around and get everything I need. This is especially true when we go to the Farmer’s Market. I can park him somewhere and run into the produce part and get what I need. It’s pretty fast and efficient. The farmer’s market also doesn’t have a ton of junk food to buy, so that helps us in that arena.
Shop the perimeter at the grocery store
But I know that not everyone has the DeKalb Farmer’s Market to go to, so here’s my advice for the grocery store. Shop around the perimeter. Almost all of your processed foods are in the aisles, so try to avoid those if you can. I know it’s not always possible, but try. I usually only go down the canned tomato aisle and the International Food aisle. I try to avoid the others at all costs. I don’t need anything in them, so why walk down them?
I know that there are struggles to meal planning, but the benefits outweigh it for me. I would rather spend a little bit of time over the weekend, knowing that I will be helping myself and my husband by cooking more during the week. The amount of fast food we have consumed can get out of control.
Hopefully these tips will help you and your family.