UACES Facebook Meal Planning to the Rescue!
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Meal Planning to the Rescue!

You probably have a routine for dinners at your house. Maybe you usually pick up something on the way home, or go out. Or maybe you put something in the slow cooker before you leave the house. But now, things may be a little different! And the family is home…..allllll day during pandemic.  Or just a lot more than usual!

woman looking upset
Don't get frustrated.  Start planning!

If you stocked up on snacks, have the kids blown through them yet?  Did you already eat your stash of ice cream?  Do you find yourself snacking, and then not eating much at meal time? 

Meal Planning to the rescue!  If you rushed to the store to stock up, you may not have planned your meals very well.  But take some time now to plan because the stores will restock, and you’ll need a list!

Eating meals prepared at home gives your family a time to be together AND eat healthier. Yes, you’re probably getting plenty of together time these days, but research says that eating together has so many benefits. When we fix simple, healthy meals at home, we usually eat healthier.  We can sometimes save time, and we almost always save money! 

Why does eating and preparing more meals at home help us?

  • Eating at home means more control over what we at and how much we eat.
  • When we eat at home, we usually eat healthier – more fruits and vegetables and fewer calories.
  • We can include more variety in our meals, including foods higher in fiber and lower in sugar, sodium, and saturated fat.

Planning is what makes that happen!  If you don’t plan, you probably will not have what you need to cook dinner.  With just a little planning, you can help your family eat smart at home. 

Let’s get started!  Make a list of things your family likes to eat and that you know how to make.  Often times, we forget week to week some of the simple things that we can fix for dinner.  Put your list where family members can see it, and have them add to it.  This will help you plan each week. 

Can you think of something that you haven’t made in a while that is simple & quick?  Now, think about how you can fill out your plate with other food groups.  MyPlate helps us to plan healthy meals.  Every meal probably won’t look like this, but you can try to move towards a more balanced plate this week.  

MyPlate graphic. Make half your plate vegetables and fruit, quarter for protein, quarter for grains, and a serving of dairy.

Maybe you have Chicken Drumsticks as your main dish. Now, think about the fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat milk foods your family enjoys. 

  • Include a variety of foods from all food groups.
  • Plan around the most expensive menu item, usually the main dish
  • Be sure to include a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Plan for at least half of the plate to be fruits and vegetables.
  • Try whole-grain breads, pastas, and rice.
  • Plan to serve low-fat or nonfat milk or water rather than sugary beverages.

Now, do this for most days of the week.  You could probably plan a ‘clean out the fridge’ dinner.  You can use this handy Meal Schedule – I like that is has a place for leftovers so I don’t forget about them!  Post your meal schedule, and remind family members to look at it when they ask, “What’s for dinner?”  Remember, they can help with planning too (and they’ll be more likely to eat it if they helped plan AND prepare it!).  Try something new once a week – just enough to keep things interesting but not too much. 

If you are home working and teaching kids too, you’ll want to think about quick and easy.  Try to plan meals with fewer ingredients or that you can prepare in one pot (it makes clean up easy too!).  Stir-frys, skillet meals, or slow cookers are great.  Other ideas:

--Quick vegetable soup & sandwich

--Whole wheat pasta with sauce and a side salad

--Whole-wheat tortillas filled with shredded low-fat cheese, canned beans or leftover meats, and salsa

--Roast chicken with potatoes, carrots, celery, and onions

--Chicken stir-fry with frozen vegetables and rice

--Scrambled eggs with tomatoes, peppers, onion, and low-fat cheese with whole wheat toast.

--Add a cup of low-fat milk and a piece of fruit for dessert to make the meal complete.

Once you get your schedule, make your grocery list.  Add breakfast and lunch items as needed. Don’t go overboard with extra snacks.  If they are hungry, they will eat the fresh veggies or fruit you have! 

How can you better plan your meals this week?  What will you do if the store doesn’t have an ingredient you need?  Can you substitute something else? 

Let me know what meals you're planning this week! Share on my Facebook page!