Meal planning is a life saver if you’re super busy, but want to make healthy choices or save money on take away! I have a crazy schedule, as does my husband, so meal planning is the only way we can stay on track with our health goals. The good thing about meal planning is that it prevents you from getting into a “food emergency.” What do I mean by this? Well a food emergency are those situations where you’re hungry, it’s getting late, and dinner hasn’t even been started! OR you get up to go to work, rushing to shove breakfast into your mouth and you realise you haven’t packed lunch. We have ALL been there. Meal planning prevents this from happening. Below I’ve listed my top 6 tips for meal planning. I hope this helps you!
1. Include a variety of protein
I plan my dinners around my protein. I try and include one of the following each week to maintain variety
• 1 x beef/lamb
• 1 x chicken
• 1 x fish (salmon)
1 x vegetarian (tofu, lentils, beans)
2. Include plenty of veggies
Make sure all your dinners have at least 2 servings of veggies. If you’re planning lasagne, don’t forge to include some steamed or sautéed veggies on the side, because lasagne is not rich in veggies. The same goes for Bolognese unless you’re including shredded carrots and zucchini.
3. Consider time restraints
Consider what you have on each day. What are your work hours? How much time will you have to prepare? Is it a DIY homemade pizzas kind of night or 8 hour slow cooked beef soup? I was include my work days in the “day + date” column of my meal planning template (see below).
4. Make the most of leftovers
I only plan my dinners. I’m not a huge sandwich fan, so lunch is always leftovers. I like to draw arrows from the dinner column to lunch the next day, or the following few days if I make a big batch.
5. Write a shopping list
This may seem obvious, but once you have chosen which meals you’re having, write a shopping list with the exact quantities that you will need for the week. This saves money and wastage. Go shopping all at once to save time. Have your recipes for the week ready to go, bookmarked or printed off.
6. Prep beforehand
If you know you’re in for a big day, prep the night before or the morning of. I find putting a slow cooked curry on in the morning really handy. After work, all you have to do is cook the rice and sauté some veggies and you’re good to go. Alternatively, baking some chicken breast, shredding it and putting it in the freezer allows for a quick and easy summer chicken salad.
Click the link below to download my printable meal planning template!