Ugh! Weekly Meal Planning: 10 Tips

You would think planning a weekly menu would be much easier for someone  working from home. Not so! It’s way too easy to get distracted with work, phone calls, laundry, cleaning, child care and errands. At the end of the day, you find yourself aksing, “What’s for dinner?”

If working to maintain weight loss, this is NEVER a good question. It’s an indicator that grazing mode has kicked in and we start looking for something (usually, unhealthy) to quiet hunger pangs.

Here are 10 helpful tips I use for weekly meal planning:

  •  Never shop hungry! (Engrave this in your stomach, heart, forehead, wherever! Heck, if you must, go get a tatoo.)
  • Make a list of ingredients needed for each meal. Highlight the items that need to be purchased. Items not highlighted indicates you already have it. I’m not sure if I’m a right or left brain person, but listing all the ingredients on my shopping list helps me to have a quick visual of the planned meal.
  • If you have access to a computer for meal planning, use it. I use a generic Excel spreadsheet that lists each day’s meal and the ingredients needed to prepare it.
  • Sunday night is my prep night. I chop, dice, cut and pre-cook ingredients that can easily be stored for the upcoming week. Things like peppers, onions, garlic, pre-cooked chicken/beef, chopped veggies or pre-cooked pasta helps speed up meal prep time.
  •  I only pre-plan dinner menus. Lunch and breakfast are easy to prepare and require much less planning and prep time.
  •  Plan meals around in-season veggies or fruits.
  • Consider ways to use any left-overs for lunch dishes. Leftover chicken is easily cut and chopped to make chicken salad sandwiches.
  • Plan dinner meals based on your schedule. Some nights you might work late, so plan a 20 minutes or less meal. On nights where you have more time, plan a meal with greater prep time. Remember, you are the menu gestapo and have full charge of what, when and time you want to serve dinner.
  • Don’t underestimate a slow cooker, it’s ideal for those late nights involving after school sporting events with the kids. There’s nothing better arriving home to the aroma of a ready-to-eat crock pot dinner.
  •  Take inventory of what you have on hand. Some of the best meals and recipes are created with nearly expired veggies, cheeses, bread and various left-overs hidden behind the milk carton.  

 

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