Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Meal Plans Help Me Make Healthy Food Choices


Last week I asked, "How do I make healthy food choices?" This week I want to elaborate on my answer: Make food choices ahead of time.

In the context of last week's post I implied that I am making food choices before visiting a restaurant. I've only recently started that, and I'm certainly NOT consistent with planning before I enter a restaurant.

But I am fairly consistent with weekly meal planning for our at-home meals.




Why weekly menu plans?

If I don't plan our meals each week then I end up preparing my "go-to" meals of toast and scrambled eggs or quesadillas and fruit. Or, even worse, we end up eating out.

Weekly meal plans help me prepare healthy meals for my family.




How do you plan a weekly menu?

I've written a menu planning tutorial that is very detailed and takes prices as well as nutrition into consideration. You are welcome to read and/or print the tutorial.

The simple way of menu planning is to just make a list of the foods you want to eat each day. Just this week I ran across an wonderful menu planner download from Teaching What Is Good. (The owner of Teaching What Is Good has given me permission to use her image and for you to download and print her planner.)


Image from Teaching What Is Good

If you are new to menu planning this is a very simple template to use. Just fill in the foods you plan to eat for each meal. The only thing it doesn't have is a place to plan snacks but you could use 'special notes' for that. 

I especially like the shopping list down the side. Occasionally I get to the store and they are out of an ingredient I need. By having the shopping list attached to my menu I can remember what meal I needed the ingredient for and make adjustments.

If you are trying to change eating habits or add more fruits and vegetables to your diet, I highly recommend you plan your meals in advance. Meal planning helps me stay focused on my goals when time and energy at at a premium. A plan keeps me from reverting back to old habits.


Are you a meal planning newbie or pro?




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15 comments:

Kate @ Teaching What Is Good said...

Stephanie, this is a GREAT article!! Glad my menu planner is helpful.

Soxy Diamond said...

Very much so a meal-planning newbie! I have a hard time b/c I never know what I'm going to be "in the mood for." I definitely need to try and do a better job at this to make our evenings a little less stressful.

Stephanie said...

Thanks again for your help, Kate!!

Soxy Diamond, there are a couple of ways to handle "in the mood for." 1. Rather than assigning days, you could just make a list of 7 meals to prepare for supper each week. Then each day you pick off the list depending on your mood/craving. But at the end of the week you have to stick with whatever is left on the list. 2. Don't prepare meals according to moods/cravings. When you think about it, the people in our homes aren't eating according to THEIR cravings, it's based on ours. If they can do it, so can we. I plan according to what I have in the pantry/freezer, what's on sale this week, and what's on our calendar for the week. I hope that helps!

Sarah B - Sweet Lil You! said...

This is GREAT! I really need to plan meals ahead of time. We tend to decide while we're at the grocery store and it is NOT working! We end up eating the same things week after week!

Megan said...

I go through phases. Sometimes I sit down with the circulars and plan my meals based on what's on sale. Sometimes I just write down what I want to have and make my list from there. Sometimes I do it in my head. And sometimes we don't eat according to my plan at all. I think that next week I may start meal planning boot camp for myself (haha) and really do my best to plan and follow through and make my grocery trips accordingly. Thanks for the tips Stephanie!!

Stephanie said...

Ha!Ha! Meal planning boot camp! I love it, Megan!

Summer said...

http://www.5dollardinners.com/

Stephanie, Check this one out too. She is MY friend (not a friend of a friend) I love her creativity. Her new book is coming out in the fall and she is prego with #4!

Liz {Learning To Juggle} said...

I was doing so well with meal planning for a while then life got extra crazy between work, tball, and hubby's school....I need to get back into it. I signed up for an amazing service called "emeals" they make it very very easy to plan dinners. We then do exactly what you suggested to Soxy Diamond...We have all the ingredients on hand and we cook whatever meal suits our mood and our need for that night.

Soxy Diamond said...

Good points -but our meals also go by SH's cravings, not just mine. It's easier b/c it's just the two of us :)

Candice Moretti said...

Love the menu planner template. I always plan out our meals and really try to stick with it. I think its the snacks and extras that make it complicated for me.

Blush Mamas said...

Thanks for the template! I plan meals in my head, which means I always I forget to pick up an ingredient! Project 10 is forcing me to focus more on planning out healthy choices. I love this!

Stephanie said...

If I go by cravings or depend on what's in my head we'll end up eating junk almost every time. Planning helps me make sure we eat healthy. Even if it's not what I'm in the mood for. :)

Our Side of the Mountain said...

Oh, I love the weekly meal planner page! That's perfect for what I need! I can plan and bring the list right to the store to get the things we still need. Thanks for sharing! It's my first visit over here!

Stephanie said...

Thanks for visiting! I used the planner for the first time today and it was AWESOME!

ToshikoNgos@ What is a detox foot bath? said...

Really a lovely menu planner..That's a great piece what I was searching for...

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