Easy Strategies for Planning Healthy Meals
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.
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.
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 »