Like many of you, I don’t always have the time or energy to make healthy meals at home. Sure, I keep staple foods in the house, including instant brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, canned beans, and frozen vegetables. But my typical go-to meals have gotten so boring. What’s a health-conscious food lover to do?
For me, the answer was to plan my meals ahead. That way, I can be sure to accommodate my busy schedule while still eating my favorite foods. Plus, I can enjoy a wider variety of foods for less time and money.
Here’s how I did it
First, I printed a blank calendar on which to plan my meals. So as not to get overwhelmed, I never planned more than two weeks at a time. I focused mostly on meals during the work week because that’s when I’m especially strapped for time.
Next, I identified the days of the week when I’m at my absolute busiest and have no time to cook healthy meals. On these days, I plan to make something fast and easy, like stir-fry. Another trick is to make a casserole the weekend before, divide it up, and freeze each meal in individual containers.
Of course, eating should be enjoyable, too. So my next step was to focus on the meals I really like. I made sure to put those on the calendar every week.
After that, I chose new recipes for variety. I looked through all my cookbooks and also found several interesting dishes online. Pinterest.com was a good electronic resource. These recipes went on the calendar.
To keep everything organized, I printed all my recipes and put them in a binder in the order in which I would make them. I added tabs for each week and put another tab in the back where I store the whole collection of recipes.
Give it a try!
It’s been a couple of months now since I took up healthy meal planning, and let me tell you—it really does help save money and time. Take the challenge and give it a try! Set aside some time on a weekend and create your own meal plan on a monthly calendar.
- Print a blank calendar and focus on two weeks at a time.
- Identify your busiest days of the week and mark them on the calendar—these are the days you’ll want the simplest meals.
- Choose your favorite recipes and plan those for days when you have time to do them justice.
- Fill in the rest of the calendar with new recipes for fun and variety.
- Finally, organize your recipes in chronological order and place them in a binder so they’re handy.
- Enjoy the extra time and money!
Do you have any meal-planning tips to share? Let us know in the comments section below!