In our society, time is money. Slow, home-cooked meals with the family gathered around the table is making way for take-out, microwavable dinners, and foods that we can eat “on the go”. Even those who are still cooking their meals from scratch want dinner on the table fast, opting for recipes that take 30 minutes or less to prepare. While it is possible to make meals that are quick and healthy, you do need to sacrifice a bit of time to plan ahead so you won’t have to worry about what to eat for the rest of the week.
- Think about the week ahead. What activities do you have planned? You might want to bring some extra snacks to work on the days you work out, or plan for a quicker meal on the nights that you drive the kids to soccer practice. On days where you don’t have plans, you might want to use that time to make larger batches of food to freeze or portion away for the rest of the week.
- What’s on special? This is more of a money-saving tip than a nutrition tip, but take the time to read through the flyers of your local grocery stores. If they’re close enough to each other, you might want to make a few stops on your next shopping trip. Not only will you save money, but it might also inspire you to make recipes that you’ve almost forgotten or maybe to try some new foods!
- Plan out your week. Now that you have an idea of how much time you’ll have during the week and what foods you might want to buy, draw up your meal plan. Some things to think about:
- Get everybody involved. If you’re not just cooking for yourself, get your family members or roommates to help with the meal planning. Not only will you have foods health on the menu that everyone likes to eat, but you can also get other people to help you cook on days when you’re pinched for time.
- Take advantage of your leftovers. An extra large batch of stew or soup can be packed away in a box for a quick grab-and-go lunch. Don’t want to eat the same thing for lunch the next day? It’s easy to turn your Sunday roast into a sandwich.
- Don’t forget about eating healthy! Use Canada’s Food Guide to help you make sure you’re getting the right types of food you need in a day. Ask yourself – are you remembering to drink your milk? Are you getting enough veggies?
- Make your grocery list and go shopping! Check around your kitchen for the ingredients that you already have, then make a list of what you need and take it to the supermarket with you. Don’t go to the store hungry! That way, you’ll be more likely to stick to your list instead of being tempted by the different foods on display.
- See your plan in action! Hopefully, everything will go as planned, but at times you might find yourself with less or more food than you expected. You should also note that unless you are planning to freeze some of your food, leftovers might start going bad in about 3 – 4 days, so you might need to set aside time for food prep midweek. Learn from your mistakes and soon meal planning will be a piece of cake!
- If all else fails… some days, things just don’t go as planned. Be prepared by having healthy standbys stashed away at home, like frozen veggies, canned beans, and whole wheat couscous. Keep healthy snacks, like whole grain crackers, nuts, canned fish, and applesauce in the office too. And don’t feel guilty if you have to call for takeout once in a while!