We are all different and all have something to offer when it comes to organizing meals. You might be very organized in what you do around your home or you might be a “do it by the seat of your pants kind of girl”. I have to say that I have quite a bit of the latter if the truth be known. But even I know that I am much better when I have quite a few things organized including meal planning. So “how to make meal planning work for you”? Let’s first look at what not to do!
- Don’t come to dinner time and say – “oh dear – what’s for dinner!?”
- Try not to consider making a new recipe without having plenty of time to do so or a successful side dish that can be a parallel if your untried and not true dish doesn’t taste so good.
- When you have organized a meal plan – don’t have it on a scrap of paper that you can’t find!
- Don’t think you have to have a different meal every night. You can re-heat and present the previous meal a different way the next night.
- Don’t be rigid in your meal plan. That sounds like a prescription for disaster. ie 1x cup of mixed salad, 6x nuts, 6 ozs of chicken or (100g) You get the picture!
- Don’t think you need to plan too far ahead ie a month’s worth. You may not know what is coming ahead ie late appointments, or a night set for a program of some sort.
- Missing out an easy night ie making a spot for food you have previously frozen or a commercially prepared meal on occasion.
- Even if you have a meal plan and it does look a little bit lacking – work on how to make it better.
- Don’t feel guilty if you go off track. Be “normal” about how you are fairing.
What to remember about Meal Planning
We are all different and are at different stages and life experiences so accordingly we may not be able to plan everything “just so”. As I made the point above – “let go of the guilt”.
What you may want to incorporate in your meal planning is how to have it organized.
- You can use a written note and pop it on the fridge
- Try a snooze button on gmail and have it come up the day before so you are prepared
- Reminders on your phone are a good idea.
- Use a housekeeping book (where you keep all things household) with a clear plastic leaf but which you have the days of the week or fortnight. You can pop in what you plan to have on the outside plastic leaf. Rub it out when finished to make space for a new week or fortnight.
- How about going for a glassed photo frame with the print of days within? When days are finished – just rub off the glass.
How to make your meal plan work for you
The aim is for
- better health
- to work within your budget
- to be more organized and thus have more time to work with.
These are the great advantages of meal planning. Your reward for these 3 things is to remind yourself of this – often.
Don’t be tight-planned as I call it – since we can have situations come up – ie visitors, extra snacks, the power goes off, running extra late or a burnt meal that can change things.
You might have a good special come up on sweet potato or pumpkins or a friend swaps some of your produce with yours. So – a glut! – Google the ingredient and swap out that meal you had planned for this new changed meal planning opportunity. Go with the flow!
If I have visitors you will find a meal plan works very much better. This particularly if you have dietary concerns with them or if you do want to plan some special dishes or want to plan some quick and easy dishes so as to enjoy your guest’s company.
Record your meal plan
My main meals are dinner. Both breakfast and lunch are easier to handle so I have my meals only planned for that meal. If you are a snack person – start up a list of snacks (the healthier they are, even better!)
Here is a sample of my latest dinner meal plan (this time I have it on paper).
Stuffed potato (and sweet potato – I had a few since they were on special) I use it with my stuffed vegetable recipe
Pizza & Salad (Flat or Pita bread, Feta, stewed tomatoes with onion, Baby spinach, rocket, grated carrot, olives, chili, (hubby has chili – I have olives) avocado) Salad made of ingredients to hand.
Red bean patties and vegetables (with potatoes, butternut pumpkin, green beans)
Pumpkin Soup (Using butternut pumpkin, Kent pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot, celery, onions, garlic) (In slow cooker)
Chicken and salad (lettuce, baby spinach, red onion, tomato, avocado, pepitas, cashews)
Stuffed mushrooms with feta, crumbs, onion and garlic extra onion/capsicum/celery mix. Mashed potatoes.
Noodles with our home grown parsley, fine diced red onion, capsicum, grated carrot, diced tomato, stock cube and cashews.
Scrambled Vegies: my varied recipe of sauteed onions and celery. Steam any vegetables I like separately and then add 4 to 5 eggs to the sauteed mix. I’m known for popping in any raw herbs I have grown in the garden too.
Minestrone: Using up any spare vegetables and adding in kidney beans and wholemeal pasta
Home-made burger Meal: I am vegetarian but you put what fits – Wholegrain bread rolls – can be egg, (a pre-made patty), sliced beetroot, lettuce, tomato, cooked or raw onion, grated carrot, cucumber
Savory Rice: Brown rice with cabbage, different greens, with rolled omelette eggs, cashews and greens and herbs only known to me. Lol.
Cereal of choice OR 2x poached eggs on wholegrain toast. A different choice of fruit each morning
Sandwiches or I make a salad of any greens and fresh vegetables including nuts and seeds. Some other alternatives are re-heated left-overs from dinner or freezer extras to use up.
Incorporate new recipes often
Even if you only try one new recipe once a month or once a fortnight it can help to widen your knowledge of what you can use. Looking for tried and true recipes is a wise recommendation. Go searching for the many recipes out there. Although you may be a newbie don’t be discouraged from trying recipes to add to your meal plan.
I encourage you to search out Esmesalon – you will have such a wide variety of recipes to your taste and you will be so glad you did. Esme has a huge collection of food ideas which are made for any budding meal planners!
Well, I do hope to hear how your meal planning is going or how you go if you have decided to start.