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Friday, April 16, 2010

Ten Tips for Planning Healthy Meals with Success

Ten Tips for Planning Healthy Meals with Success

1. Just get started! Any plan, regardless of how good or bad it is, is better than having no plan at all. An easy way to start is to simply have a list on your fridge of meals that you can make with what you have on hand for the week.

2. Review the grocery ads. Planning your meals around 4 & 5 Star items will really help make your grocery trip more cost effective! If the local grocery store is having a sale on chicken breast. Reviewing the ads helps ensure you take full advantage of your store’s sales cycle.

3. Start your shopping list during the week by writing down items you need. By starting your week during the week and keeping a runny tally of things you need, you won’t forget them on shopping day. If I do forget something, I try to go without it so I can avoid a second or third trip to the grocery store and I feel I can save some money that way.

4. Shop around the edge of the store for healthy options and discount bins. The items around the perimeter of the store tend to be the fresher, less processed items. It’ll save you some money and you’ll have better nutritional options in those areas. There are healthy options all throughout the store, but they tend to concentrate on the edge of the store. Another thing that I have found at the stores I shop is that there are discount bins around the edges of the store – great deals can be found here. Use a shopping list -- the lists available on Pinching Your Pennies are FANTASTIC!

5. Don’t bring your kids if you can help it. Grocery stores are designed to appeal to children, they keep all the sugary cereals and all the sweets at their eye level so they can beg and plead for them. IF you can help it try to go without them. I enjoy shopping without my kids - it gives me time to think!!!!!!!!

6. Keep your normal meals and create new meals by tweaking ingredients a bit. With pasta, for example, buy whole wheat instead. When thinking about rolls or biscuits, try making your own using whole wheat flour.

7. Cook ahead of time. Whether you make a couple of meals to freeze for busy nights or just make extra to freeze half, I have found it’s wonderful to know there is a home cooked meal sitting in the fridge or freezer. It’s a lot easier to defrost and/or stick something into the oven than to make a meal entirely from scratch!

8. Do what you can ahead of time. This kind of sounds like the one above, but here I’m talking about the daily preparation. Last night, for example, we had a chicken stir-fry. I washed and cut the vegetables in the morning as well as marinated the chicken so that everything was ready to go into the pan when I was ready. For my family – that hour before dinner always seems to be crazy with homework and extra curricular activities. It’s nice for me to have as much prep done as possible.

9. Use leftovers! Whether you rethink them and use them to create a new meal or just eat the same thing twice, this saves so much money! I even write leftovers into our meal plan each week as “Must-Go’s,” the things in the fridge that must-go. I know that we’ll have them to use and I want to make sure we use them. If you hate eating leftovers, but often have food leftover from your meal, just start making less at each meal. Learn how much your family really eats. One thing that my family loves is when we have left over rice, I make rice pancakes. You just mix in 1 egg for every cup of rice and cook them like you do regular pancakes. They are good topped with syrup or fruit.

10. Have fun and keep it flexible! A meal plan is supposed to be helpful to a simple and peaceful home, not an extra burden. Enjoy it! There are so many benefits to meal planning, especially giving you more time and energy to do the things you really want and need to do!

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