Thursday, January 14, 2016

Simple Meal Planning (part 1 of Meal Simplicity Blog Series)

One of the most common questions I get from my clients is "how can I make meal time easier?" When we are in a rush and hungry (or have kids crying, screaming, tugging at our leg), we reach for the easiest and quickest thing we can find. Which...let's be honest, is not usually the most nutritious choice. Sometimes we sacrifice health for sanity. But do we need to? No!!! Welcome to Part 1 of my Meal Simplicity blog series: Simple Meal Planning where I have included some easy to follow tips to claim your sanity back when it comes to meals

1. Create a weekly theme

This is the basic starting point I use with my clients. The simplest of the simple. I'm a visual person so here's what I mean:

Sundays: Take out or miscellaneous
Mondays: Taco night
Tuesdays: Soup & Wraps
Wednesdays: Pasta
Thursdays: DIY Pizza
Fridays: Casserole
Saturdays: Crock pot meal

This way you have a basic template for the week. Feel free to create your own themes based on your family's preferences. There are so many variations within each category and easy to make healthy. For example:

Taco Night:
You can use sprouted grain wraps or shells and lay out a bunch of ingredients for your family to choose from: chicken, peppers, cucumbers, shredded cheese, salsa, guacamole

Soups & Wraps
Soup options are totally endless. It's easy to make a huge batch of homemade soup in a crockpot using whatever leftovers you have and adding spices and stock. Use sprouted grain wraps and again lay out ingredients for your kids to choose from or pre-make their favourites: peanut butter and honey, chicken and cheese, tuna, egg salad (tip - use hummus instead of mayo)

I love using edamame or black bean noodles or even better yet use a spiralizer with zucchini to make zucchini (or sweet potato) noodles. Top with a healthy sauce (ie - one that has 5 or less ingredients) and sprinkle on some hemp seed. You can vary the toppings - mushrooms, lentil balls, chicken, shrimp, etc. Super simple

DIY Pizza
Make your own quick crust from cauliflower or sweet potato. Easier yet use a sprouted grain wrap. Let the kids spread on pizza sauce and ask which toppings they want - the more veggies the better!

This can be a veggie lasagna, a lentil or meat loaf, sweet potato casserole, even a quiche or tuna casserole. To make life easy, I like to go to Pinterest and type in "quick healthy casserole" to get some inspiration

Crock Pot
I like to do crock pot meals on Mondays, the day I know I'm the busiest. Simply throw a bunch of ingredients in a crock pot and turn on low for 8 hours or high for 4. The next blog in this series will be all crock pot recipes so I'll be rounding up some of my favourites

2. Use a tool
My favourite tool in this case is Plan To Eat Basically it's a site to collect your recipes and drag them into a monthly calendar. With a simple click your grocery list will appear, which you can bring with you via your mobile as the perfect check list. Here's a blog post and video I made with some of the benefits and how to use it. You can take advantage of a free 30 day trial to make sure it's a good fit for you

3. Write it all out on a calendar
First, find a super cute template you can use to fill in meals each week - like the 30 found here. We are drawn to visually appealing things, so get motivated however you can!

4. Collect recipes
Pinterest is the Queen for recipe collection. Create specific boards (like crockpot meals) to keep them all in one place. Here is my board for food (I clearly need to work on organization. Ideally I would have a board for healthy snacks, a separate one for healthy dinners, etc). Having recipes accessible all in one place makes it much easier to peruse through for inspiration

Hope you find those tips helpful. Let me know if you implement any of them!


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