You know that you need to eat healthy meals, but life moves at fast speed, and those good intentions to make good food choices get more challenging as the day wears on.
This is why it’s so important to have a menu planned out before the week begins, and to prepare as much of the food in advance as you possibly can.
So, how do you start?
Have an eating plan in mind. Are you eating low carb? Counting calories? Paleo? Whatever it is, know what foods you can eat, and which to avoid.
Choose foods you like, that are easy to prepare. Don’t spend an hour on Pinterest looking for great meal ideas that are overly complicated, or seem healthy, but that you would never order from a restaurant menu. If you hate fish, don’t add fish to the menu just because it’s considered healthy. Stick to chicken or pork, or meatless dishes. I love sweet potatoes and broccoli, and I eat them just about every day. It might seem boring, but because I really do like them, I’m not going to groan when I pull my Rubbermaid container out of my lunch bag, or possibly pretend that I forgot I brought a lunch and head for the nearest drive thru.
Choose a variety of foods. Especially if you’re repeating meals each day, make sure the meals you’re eating have a wide variety. I eat the same lunch just about every day, and have for close to 2 years. But I mix it up with dinners to add a little more variety. Snacks are another good way to add some pizzaz to your diet.
Get everyone involved. Unless you’re only cooking for yourself, of course. I have three somewhat picky teenaged boys, and they actually enjoy getting to help plan family dinners. This is also the perfect place to negotiate trade-offs. I have a kid who hates spaghetti but loves potatoes, and one who doesn’t like potatoes but loves spaghetti. We work out the meal plan, and each one knows that there’s one night where they might not love everything on their plate, but they know there’s another meal coming down the pike that they DO like, and they’re much less likely to voice complaints.
Write it out. Don’t assume you’ll remember that Wednesday is roast chicken and veggies night– put it on paper. Not only does this help you to stay on track, but it reminds the other family members what to expect at meal time, and if you’re not home in time– they could start preparing it for you. It doesn’t necessarily work with my teenagers (yet), but I haven’t given up hope. You can print out this menu template to get started!
Do you have some favorite foods that you include in your menu on a on-going basis? Share them in comments– we’re always looking for great new meal ideas!