One of the most important things I do to eat healthy throughout the week and save myself time and energy is plan out my dinners for the week ahead. Then, I use that plan (after looking through what I already have in my kitchen) to make my grocery list and off to the grocery store I go. I usually do this on Sundays. My Sunday night meal is something I can make a large batch of to have leftovers for 1-2 other dinners throughout the week, for lunches, or to freeze for “emergencies” down the road.
Steps to successful meal planning
- Use a calendar or planner to write down your meal ideas each week
- Look at your evening activities for the week and see which evenings you will have time to cook (30 minutes) and which evenings you will need something quick (utilize leftovers or a quick go-to recipe on these days)
- Plan your large batch meal to make that night and write in days you will utilize the leftovers
- Fill in the rest of the “not much time” days with your quick go-to recipes (ideas below)
- On nights that you see you may have “a little more time”, write down a new recipe/meal idea (ideas below)
Tips for choosing dinner meals/recipes
- Have weekly theme nights and change up the ingredients or recipes each week. (Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Breakfast for Dinner, Stir Fry Night, Personal Pizza Night). This takes a little bit of the thinking out of the meal planning each week.
- Keep favorite go-to recipes/meal ideas easily available: try keeping printed copies in a folder or binder in your kitchen.
- Subscribe to a monthly magazine that features quick healthy recipes and aim to try 1 different recipe each week.
- Think of how you can eat culturally diverse cuisines throughout the week (Chinese, Mexican, Mediterranean, Asian, Italian, Indian, etc.)
- Look ahead at the weather. For example: sunny and warm= grill out or a fresh salad or cold and rainy= warm soup or chili.
- Some of my favorite places to get easy healthy recipes are livebetteramerica.com, cookinglight.com, Pinterest, Trader Joe’s Cookbook and my personal folder of go-to recipes!
My dinner plan for the week ahead plus some recipes to help you get started
- Sunday: Large pot of taco soup (Trader Joes recipe) served with homemade whole wheat pita chips and salsa
- Monday: Taco soup (leftovers) served with baked sweet potato fries
- Tuesday: Black bean vegetable noodle stir fry (livebetteramerica.com recipe)
- Wednesday: Taco soup (leftovers) over brown rice served with steamed sugar snap peas
- Thursday: Frittata (cookinglight.com recipe) with French toast (livebetteramerica.com recipe)
- Friday: Grilled or baked fish (me) and chicken (my husband) served with steamed broccoli and bread and olive oil from Fresh Market
- Saturday: Out to eat
Recipes from some of my favorite resources
- Taco soup recipe. I substitute chopped bell peppers for the corn and use low sodium seasoning and broth.
- Black bean vegetable noodle stir fry. I use brown rice or brown rice noodles and sometimes utilize frozen chopped veggies for convenience.
- French toast