By: Julia Kaesberg, MS,RD,LD,CHES
One of the most common reasons my members don’t eat at home is a lack of planning. Let’s face it, when you get home from work at 6 pm (hungry and tired), going to the grocery store, cooking a meal, and sitting down to dinner can be an overwhelming concept that has you reaching for the take-out menus. But what if you could do your planning, shopping, and even preparation, on the weekends and have dinners ready to go? Follow these tips and soon enough you will a meal planning expert.
- Compile recipes – the first step is to start compiling recipes you’d like to make. Pull out some old favorites, look online for new ones, and ask friends and family for their favorites. It’s hard to think of what to make on the spot, so get a few choices ready to go.
- Take a poll – if you’re tired of always having to decide what to make, poll the family on what they want to eat. Take the decision making out of your hands!
- Make a list – it sounds simple, but so many people don’t do it! As you’re choosing recipes, jot down what you need to buy to make sure you don’t have to run back to the store for a second trip. Having a list can also help you avoid the impulse buys!
- Prep any ingredients you can in advance – as soon as you get home from the store, chop any vegetables, fruits, or other ingredients that you can in advance. This will save time on those busy weeknights. If you’ve got lots of time, make the whole recipe in advance and store it in the refrigerator (up to 4 days) or freezer (up to 3 months).
- Stick to the plan – don’t succumb to a moment of weakness when you get home. Write what you’re making for dinner on your calendar so everyone knows what to expect. Bonus: get everyone involved in the cooking process; make it more fun than ordering take out by playing music and making it a family event!
- Plan for leftovers – if you and your family don’t mind eating the same thing two days in a row, double the recipe and have the leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. For most recipes, it is the same amount of work and will save you from having to cook the next night!
If you feel you need more guidance, try using a meal planning app – MealPlan Meal, Grocery Planner, AnyList, and Yummly are some worth trying.