National Nutrition Month encourages you to plan your meals. Meal planning can be an overwhelming thought, but it doesn’t have to be!
Do you find yourself stuck and stressed out after work because you aren’t sure what to make?
Do you find yourself skipping breakfast because “you have no time”?
Do you find yourself hungry at the end of the day?
Do you find it difficult to manage your portion sizes at meals?
Do you find yourself sluggish mid-day?
If any of the above resonates with you, meal planning can be a useful tool to ensure there is a variety of nutrient-dense foods to choose from throughout the week and address some of these common concerns above. Meal planning will also help you reduce save money and reduce stress, especially now with concerns and closings due to COVID-19.
Let’s look at four easy steps to get started with effective meal planning:
- Check your stock
- Check your refrigerator, freezer and pantry to find out what items you have available
- Keep a list of spices and seasonings you have to avoid buying a product you may already have at home
- Create a meal plan
- Meal planning is individualized. You can decide to plan a day or a week ahead – think about what works best for you/your family
- Keep in mind any health concerns you may have when choosing meals, and the foundations of a nutritious plate
- Are you sticking to a budget?
- Leftovers and meatless meals at least once per week can help you to save money
- Use a dedicated meal planning journal, app or spreadsheet to plan ideas
- Gather ideas
- Dig into your family recipes or choose meals you like
- Need recipe ideas? My favorite current resources are Fruits and Veggies More Matters, Budget Bytes and Today’s Dietitian.
- Make your grocery list
- Using the information you’ve gathered from your inventory and meal ideas/plan, make a grocery list. This will help you breeze through the grocery store and save money, as you will be less tempted to purchase foods that aren’t on your list!
- Shop smart
Shop once per week when able. This ensures fresh foods are in the house, and saves you time on your next grocery trip!
Use coupons for items you know will match with what you have planned for the week. This will help save you money.
Don’t shop on an empty stomach. We have all been there, and when this happens we usually buy convenience items that taste good, but offer less of the nutrients that will keep us full and satisfied, AND spend more money than we planned.
Don’t be afraid to try the store brands to save money.
Purchase fruits and vegetables in season, or opt for frozen. Frozen vegetables often offer similar nutrient quality as they are frozen at the peak of their freshness.
Purchase whole grains in bulk and store in air-tight container.
Want to learn more? Or need meal ideas?
Schedule an appointment with me by calling 716-248-1717
Natalie Robertello Sports Dietitian MS, RD, CSSD, CDN