Plan your meals.
This is something to start small with, but it’s a very necessary step for most people who want to eat a healthful diet based on whole foods.
-Eating spontaneously leads to poor food choices. When we’re hungry, we don’t usually want to fuss with making something that might take a bit of preparation, we just want to eat.
-Meal planning means have all your ingredients to-hand, while eating on the go means more shopping trips, which make it easier to overspend on groceries and make less ideal food choices.
-It gives you a road map for food preparation, so you can plan time to eat healthfully and meet your nutritional goals.
-It relieves a lot of the stress around meals. Once you get used to doing this, meal times become much more fun and easygoing than having to come home from work, figure out what you’re going to make, run to the store, and then try to cook everything in 15 minutes so you’re not eating at 9PM.
-Start small. Make a list of 10-14 dinners (depending on how your weekends usually go) that you (and your family) will eat. This is your starting point. Some people, such as ourselves, like to decide which meals will go on which nights. We tend to have kind of erratic schedules, so it helps us to plan who is cooking on what night, what meals will best fit our available preparation time, etc. But, some people do just find with having weekly dinners set up and the groceries purchased, and deciding between those meals each night. Find what works for you.
-Once you have this laid out, you can start adding or switching dinners to your lists each week. Use your meal lists to make your grocery lists.
-Each week, look at your list and assess how healthful the dinners are. If they could use some tweaking, try to do one or two meals a week with simple things, like adding a vegetable or switching from white to brown rice. This makes the transitions a bit easier than trying to do it all at once.
-Allow children who are old enough to help with the plan. They’re more likely to eat healthful foods if they help plan and prepare them!
-Once you’ve got the hang of making a dinner plan, try either breakfasts or lunches, whichever makes more sense for you. We plan most of our dinners to give us leftovers for lunches, which works well for us, but it may not work as well for others.
This will take some getting used to. Most of us are used to eating on the fly, and eating “what we’re in the mood for.” Unfortunately, that’s one of the ways we’ve gotten to be such an unhealthy nation, and it needs to change. Make a solid family commitment to meal plan for at least one month of dinners, and by the end of it, you may find yourself thinking “how did I do this any other way?”
- Back to Basics, Nutrition Rule 4 (eclecticedibles.wordpress.com)
- Back to Basics: Nutrition Rule 2 (eclecticedibles.wordpress.com)
- Stop Complicating Things. Eating Well Isn’t Magic. (eclecticedibles.wordpress.com)
- Back to Basics: Nutrition Rule #6 (eclecticedibles.wordpress.com)
- Regular Family Meals Promote Kids’ Nutrition (livescience.com)