If you are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you most likely will need to have a plan. This plan requires action and can involve the process of making basic meals.
I know some people either love it or hate it. But, meal planning does not have to be fancy or require long hours prepping and standing in your kitchen.
In fact, if you are new to eating healthy, keeping it simple makes sense.
But, also if you are the type of person who just doesn't enjoy prepping and cooking, you still can make a plan to make healthy meals without too much of a time restraint.
For example, breakfast could be a protein shake with healthy fats, fiber, protein and carbohydrates. Lunch can be a rainbow colored salad with clean protein and dinner can be with another clean protein of your choice with green vegetables.
Meal planning also depends upon several factors like the number of people eating, meal times, special dietary concerns, budget, available foods, recipes on hand and likes and dislikes of everyone who will be eating.
Begin by choosing foods and recipes that you like and know how to prepare well and that fit into everyone's dietary plans. If one or more people have special needs, like diabetes, plan ahead for substitutions either in the food preparation or food substitution for that individual or for those individuals.
There are a few things to note when making meal choices and menu planning. First, some foods may be advertised a certain way, but that doesn't mean you can't experiment. in the kitchen. For instance, breakfast can be served for lunch or dinner and so called dinner food can become breakfast. As long as the food choices you are making are sound and are nutrient dense, you will be good!
Say for instance, you are in the mood for breakfast food but its lunch time. You can make or find a quality product such as waffles made from healthy wheat or whole grains. To keep it healthy, opt to have the waffles with fresh fruits instead of sugary syrup and heavy butter.
Add variety, too. Have other family members jump in and prepare meals some nights and on weekends. Kids enjoy making macaroni and cheese, so host mac-n-cheese night on Wednesdays, for example. Then alternate different vegetable combinations, colors and textures to vary the menu on a weekly basis (no need to let boredom take over on Wednesdays with the same routine!) If you are looking for a healthy mac and cheese recipe, check out my recipe below:
Healthy Vegan Macaroni & Cheese
To help with family food budget concerns, buy in bulk for common items when you can when there are sales at supermarkets. Frozen fruits and vegetables are good choices for bulk items.
Here is a thing to remember with regards to dietary planning. It's unfortunate, but fast foods, especially those that are high in fat content (fried, greasy foods), are often cheaper than good, healthy food choices.
For example, lean organic grass fed beef and wild caught salmon, cost more than high fat beef or farm raised salmon.
Even if quality animal protein is higher, it still makes sense to buy the premium product for better health. Consider, going meatless on some days or even two meals out of your day.
A simple healthy meal can be soups with plant based proteins you can create with variety to assist with reducing costs for grocery shopping. These small changes really do help when it comes to curbing your grocery expenses. Not only are they delicious, but your body with respond in a positive way.
Eat Good! Look Good! Feel Good!
Vanessa LaBranche/Chef Instructor-Culinary Educator