Meal plans. Don’t roll your eyes! I know, I know, it’s hardly a glamorous way to pass the time but it does make sense and it does work! Read on to find out how to make meal planning easy and work for you!
Family life is busy. Children’s activities, school commitments and social activities fill our calendars. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and the healthy habits we try so hard to adopt can easily fall by the wayside.
I believe that supporting ourselves and our families to be happy and healthy by providing wholesome, real food options is one of the most important and valuable things we can do.
For me, having an organised kitchen and planning meals in advance helps me to stay on track when it comes to healthy eating.
Meal planning has made a big difference to the way we eat in my family. What I always thought of as a boring job that left no room for spontaneity has actually ended up saving me time and money and inspiring me to have a go at a few new things like making ghee and preparing beans and legumes from scratch.
Successful meal planning requires a bit of thought so here are some ideas that I have found useful and that help me keeping this simple, doable and even enjoyable!
How to make meal plans work for you…
Sitting at the computer making a beautiful chart of all the deliciously healthy food you are going to consume over the week is much easier than actually making all the food! Consider the amount of cooking (and dishes) you are happy to do in one day and be realistic! Only add one or two new recipes in with your trusted favourites to avoid meal plan overload!
Keep it simple
Mixing quinoa with falafels and sushi with too many nuts has led me down the path of a rather tumultuous tummy. In the past, I have eaten things that I knew my body didn’t really feel like because they were on the meal plan. Keep your meal plan simple with a good combination of foods you enjoy and agree with you.
Leaving two or three meals blank on your plan will give you an opportunity to use up leftovers or things from the pantry or freezer that need to be used, things that perhaps didn’t get made because of a last minute decision to have lunch or dinner out and about.
We have a big, hungry family and will never be able to cope with only one shop a week. Allow yourself a ‘top up’ shop to replenish fresh things like green veggies, fruit, bread and milk.
Meal planning takes time to get used to but once you are in the swing of it, you will be surprised how much time it actually saves you!
Baked Tomato, Mushroom + Zucchini Risotto
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced finely
1 cup of Aborio rice
1 1/2 cups of vegetable stock
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 medium zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
A handful of mushrooms, sliced
1/4 of a cup of finely grated parmesan
good quality salt
freshly ground pepper
chopped parsley to garnish
What to do:
Preheat the oven to 190C. Heat a large, oven proof dish (I use my le creuset pot) over medium heat on the stove top and add a good glut of olive oil. Add the onions and a good pinch of salt and cook for around five minutes, until the onions have softened.
Add the rice to the dish and stir well before adding the stock and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, then stir in the vegetables and parmesans.
Cover the dish and place in the oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until the rice is cooked to your liking.
Transfer to bowls and sprinkle over the parsley to serve.
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