It’s fall harvest time of year, back to making school lunches and back to the activities. It’s also time to change up your weekly meal plan with warmer, heartier recipes. As a Dietitian at Healthy Steps, meal planning is a frequent issue I work on with clients. It is one of the essentials to being successful with reaching your nutrition goals. Meal planning will have you eating healthier meals, reduce waste, save you time and money. Here are some things to consider before sitting down to plan your weekly menu. Clean out your pantry and fridge; get rid of expired food to make room for essential pantry items such as no salt added canned chickpeas, tuna, nut butters and brown rice. Take advantage of fall harvest, stock up on root vegetables such as beets, parsnips, carrots and butternut squash which are high in fibre, vitamin C and antioxidants. Get the whole family involved in the process whether it’s picking recipes or prepping vegetables. Kids who participate in planting, planning and meal prep tend to be healthier eaters.
Ok so now that you are ready to plan your meals for the week here are some tips to help you be successful at it.
- Make a meal plan for at least 5 days of the week. If you are new at this start with dinners but if you have been doing a bit of meal planning for a while, go ahead and plan breakfast, lunch and snacks too. There won’t be any reason to choose take out or the drive through.
- Make a grocery list based on the items you need and stick to it. This will save you money, reduce food waste and save you from buying the unhealthy foods.
- When you bring the foods home from the grocery store, take a few minutes and chop up some of the vegetables and fruit. Place them in containers in the fridge; they should be good for 3-4 days depending on the specific fruit or vegetable. Now you don’t have any excuse not to eat wholesome foods for lunches and snacks.
- Take some time on the weekend to prep some meals. Meal planning is essential but taking the next step and doing meal prep on the weekends will make weekday dinners breezy.
- Batch cook whenever possible. Chili, lentil soup, stew, turkey meatballs are examples of high fibre, high protein meals you can double or triple batch and freeze for a later date.
Meal planning is one of many topics I counsel on and provide services for as a nutritionist in Ottawa. As a Dietitian at Healthy Steps I help clients apply the science of nutrition to reach their nutrition goals whether it’s to reduce cholesterol levels, loss weight, gain weight, or help a picky eater improve their eating habits.