Let’s face it. Meal planning for families can be daunting. Life gets busy and cooking healthy meals at home can be challenging. Whether you work unusual hours, go to the gym several times a week. or your kids are monsters at mealtimes, planning healthy nutritious meals may feel stressful and sometimes impossible.
The focus of this module is on introducing you to the process (or system) of meal planning. Having a meal planning S.Y.S.T.E.M will Save You Stress, Time, Energy, and Money.
What Is Healthy Meal Planning?
Meal planning is asking “what’s for dinner?” once for the whole week, instead of every night, taking into consideration the nutritional needs of each family member. And then shopping for and prepping the ingredients before cooking.
You make a plan and follow the plan. If you have kids, you can let them be involved in the planning as well, which will help them get excited about the healthy foods you are cooking and be more willing to try them.
Think of meal planning for families like using a GPS to get somewhere you haven’t been before vs figuring out the way on your own. It’s kind of nice to sit back and just follow the directions.
Pro Tip: Print your meal plan and stick it to the refrigerator, or somewhere else in the kitchen, where everyone can see it. This automatically takes care of the daily “what’s for dinner?” question from family members.
The most successful family meal planners approach meal planning with five steps. More on them in the next learning units:
- Define your family’s needs/goals.
- Plan your week – check in with the family calendar.
- Plan your meals, and their recipes, if needed.
- Shop for ingredients.
- Prepare those ingredients.
What Healthy Meal Planning Is Not
The holy grail! There’s so much fanfare about how meal planning can change your life that it’s easy to blow its effects out of proportion. And while it does solve so many problems, you’ve got to tailor it to fit your needs (which means you’ve got to be clear on what those are) and give yourself lots of leeways to experiment and find a system that works for you.
Boring and inflexible. It’s not based on boring dietary dogma and it’s not cast in stone. The beauty of meal planning is that experimentation and being flexible is welcomed, not frowned upon.
Counting calories and weighing portions. You are not planning a scientific experiment or a starvation diet. Forget about calories and portions. Healthy eating is a way of life, it’s not a diet. Focus on eating delicious healthy well-balanced meals.
According to Dawn Blatner, author of The Flexitarian Diet, several studies found that you can lose weight on a vegetarian diet without measuring or counting calories.
A lot of work. Not true. You do a bit of concentrated work up front, but it’s plain sailing once you begin to work your plan.
An expensive monthly app membership fee. Nutrition apps and paid recipe websites make your job a whole lot easier, and you can’t do proper meal planning without them. But apart from a once-off setup fee, you shouldn’t have to pay a recurring fee to use them.
Just for families of four. Meal planning is for everyone. Obviously, there are different strategies to employ depending on the number of people you’re planning for.
The sole domain of dietitians and nutritionists. Sure, they can be very helpful if you have special dietary requirements that you cannot address on your own. But anyone can create a healthy meal plan with just a little bit of knowledge.
- What are your expectations for meal planning? What do you hope it will solve? Please share your thoughts in a Reply below.
- If you have any questions about anything in the Healthy Meal Planning Masterclass, don’t be shy to leave a Reply (comment) on the learning unit where the question arose. There are no stupid or silly questions.
I’m here to help and I usually answer all questions within 24 hours.