Easy Strategies for Planning Healthy Meals

The toughest part of getting on track with your weight loss plan is getting organized. We lose track of time, get busy with personal stuff or shuttling the little ones around, and end up falling off the wagon. Start this year off right, by getting your grocery list in check.
183090876

183090876

Retro refrigerator

Photo by: kostsov

kostsov

One of the toughest parts of getting on track with healthy eating is getting organized -- but there are ways to take a smarter approach to meal planning and shopping.

Come Up with a Weekly Game Plan

This will not only help you stick to a healthy diet, but it will also help keep you on a budget (you won't end up opting for last-minute take-out).

  • Take 20 minutes during the weekend to plan your weekly meals.
  • Schedule one week of healthy meals at a time and use a calendar to visualize and organize.
  • Plan to have most dinner plates follow a balanced model, like MyPlate: one-quarter of the plate goes to whole grains, one-quarter to lean protein, and half to fruits and veggies.
  • Collect healthy recipes online or from cookbooks and magazines and keep them in a binder or folder.
  • Choose no more than two new recipes a week for weeknight meals -- just in case they don't turn out exactly as planned.
  • If you're usually in a time crunch during the week, choose a few dishes you can cook ahead on weekends and store in the fridge or freezer.
Write Your Grocery List

Once you plan out your meals, you'll know exactly what goes on your grocery list.

  • Take 15 minutes during the weekend to go through the refrigerator, freezer and pantry to see what you have in stock. Toss out expired items and make room for new ones.
  • Check staple ingredients (like salt and olive oil) so you can stock up if running low.
  • Review recipes ahead and make sure you have everything you need.
  • Write the amount needed so you don't over- or under-buy.
  • Schedule at least one hour to shop at the grocery store so you don't feel rushed. And don't forget to eat before you go -- you'll minimize impulsive purchases.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby's full bio »

Keep Reading

Next Up

Easy Meals, Good Deals, Made Healthy

. Get back to budget-friendly eating with Foodnetwork.com's Easy Meals, Good Deals feature.

Back-to-School Meal Planning

Set yourself up for success on busy weeknights by having vegetables ready to use. With some smart planning, you'll be enjoying the same home cooking, just a little earlier than our lazy days of summer.

Healthy Pregnancy: Planning Ahead in the Kitchen

Even after the baby arrives, it’s still important for moms to get extra calories so they can keep their energy high, heal from delivery and have fuel for breastfeeding. These recipes will keep my family covered during those first few hectic weeks.

Heart-Healthy Meals

To honor American Heart Month, our friends at Foodnetwork.com are dishing out recipes that are low in cholesterol but high in flavor. Check out their favorites -- plus, see which seven foods can help lower cholesterol and eight simple steps for better heart health.

Easy Healthy Recipe Swaps

Katie Cavuto Boyle shares her simple swaps for upping the health factor in your favorite recipes.

Smart Shopping Guide for Healthy Meals

Shopping for your week's groceries is always a puzzle. How do you get everything you need in one shot and avoid midweek runs for forgotten items? Here are some tips from the Food Network Kitchens.

5 Healthiest Restaurant Kids#039; Meals

Your kids aren't limited to the hamburger platter or grilled cheese; here are the healthiest options we found at popular restaurants.

Best 5 Healthy Meal Makeovers

Enjoy your favorite comfort foods but with a lightened-up twist with the help of these made-over recipes for rich chocolate brownies, moist meatloaf and Food Network Magazine's cheesy macaroni.

Essential Healthy Lunchbox Meal Plan

Here are five days of kid-friendly, well-balanced meals to keep your little ones going strong all day.