One of the most asked questions in everyone’s house is “Whats for dinner?”. With meal planning you can save your time and build a healthy lifestyle and bid adieu to this most dreaded question. Meal planning is much more than just jotting down date and dishes on a pieces of paper. It is making conscious choices of what your entire family is going to consume for a certain amount of time, keeping in mind everyone’s choices, tastes buds and nutrition requirements. Not only it improves your physical and mental health, but proper meal planning also improves your financial health. When you know that homemade food will be delicious and according to your liking, you automatically stop ordering food from outside.
For busy parents, it is important to have a proper detailed meal plan to kee the house running smoothly. I usually opt for weekly meal plans. This makes it easy to keep it interesting, full of variety and avoid wastage of food. While preparing a meal plan consider:
1. Adequacy– Consider the number of meals you need to plan for a day which provides you with sufficient energy and keeps you full. For us, it is 3 meals and 2-3 snacks a day.
2. Balance– Prepare a plan which provides all the nutrients to your body everyday. It should be rich with all macro and micro nutrients and should have all the food groups involved.
3. Variety– Make the meals intereting by including different sorts of recipes. Monotonous food can be boring. Try to not repeat dishes and pick recipes which everyone can enjoy.
4. Moderation– Cook and shop just the right amount. Not less and more. This will make it easy to stick to the plan and avoid food wastage.
5. Nourishment– What we eat is what our body reflects. Healthy and nutritious food keeps you energised and improves productivity. Do consider your cravings for desserts and junk food as well. Usually our bodies generate these cravings to find comfort and soothe ourselves. Meal planning should nourish your body and mind as well.
Considering the above points, start making your meal plan. It is important to sit with family while doing meal plan or asking them what they would like to eat during the upcoming week. In my family, we usually do this on fridays or saturdays so that I get to stock up the pantry in the weekend.
Once you have a plan, check your fridge and pantry for the supplies you already have. Then make a list of things you need to get from grocery shop and go shopping.
Now that you have a plan and all your supplies, segregate it and organize. This includes chopping vegetables and storing them, emptying the store bought packets into clear transparent jars etc.
This ensures that you can cook quickly according to the meal plan and have everything ready for it.
Do a small half cooking sessions. This involves preparing chutneys, storing the chopped vegetables, preparing frozen recipes if any etc.
Also consider introducing a family cooking day every fortnight. This makes the kids aware of the responsibilities and helps them bond with everyone in the family. It also lessens the burden for the homemaker and gives them a refreshing break.
Smart meal planning may look tough in the starting, but as you embark on this journey, you will notice a huge shift in your lifestyle and health. And most importantly no one in the family will be hangry. As a mom, I have been a huge advocate and practitioner of meal planning and it has helped me tremendously in saving my time and being healthy.