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It’s that time of year again… Back-to-school. For some of you this might mean getting back into a routine and juggling hectic schedules. You might be worried about finding the time to create nutritious meals for you and your family. Creating healthy, enjoyable meals on the spot using only ingredients from your own kitchen can be tough. Sometimes frozen dinners or grabbing take out on the way home can seem like the only option. Well there is another option – planning ahead. Meal planning can make healthy eating easier and save you money! Not to mention when you have a plan, you’ll feel less stressed.
Here are 3 Easy Steps for Meal Planning:
1. Research recipes
2. Create an actual meal plan
Write out the days of the week across the top of a sheet of paper or purchase a chalk board or white board for your kitchen. Along the side, write breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Using your research write down what meals you want to do when. Try to make double recipes where possible, use leftovers for lunch, and choose seasonal foods as much as possible. Here’s a picture of mine! And check out our team’s Pinterest board with really cool templates for meal planning – you’ll love it!
3. Make a shopping list
Create categories according to sections in your grocery store like vegetables & fruit, breads & grains, fridge/freezer section… you get the idea! Write down according to your plan what you need from each section. If possible I like to get most of my fresh ingredients from a farmer’s market, I love Bailey’s Local Foods in Waterloo. I get the rest of my ingredients from a grocery store or health food store for all those low FODMAP and Gluten-Free Options. Don’t forget to check what you already have in your fridge or pantry!
Check out my handout of low-FODMAP Foods to Include to keep in mind which foods are tummy-friendly.
Tips for the Grocery Store:
- Stick to your list to avoid buying things you don’t need and stay on budget
- Shop the perimeter of the grocery store where you’ll find the most healthy foods. Limit time in the aisles where the processed food lives.
- If you do need pantry staples, only go down the aisles you need by reading the headings. You will be less tempted to buy processed foods if you are not walking right by them!
Plan what you can! Look ahead at what you’ve got on this week – if you have a busier day, plan for a less involved meal or cook big batches on the weekend!
Involve the your team – who will be cooking, eating, and grocery shopping– get others involved to make it more enjoyable and ensure there are no complaints!
Planning ahead is so useful. I don’t accomplish it every week, but I can honestly tell you the weeks I make a meal plan and cook a few meals on the weekend are the BEST weeks! It makes me less anxious when I have a plan for the week, which thus can help if you have IBS or other digestive issues that are influenced by stress and anxiety!
If you have food allergies or intolerance’s – a meal planning strategy will help you really make sure you’re not going without. You know when you know you need to do something, but don’t really do it… this is it! Hopefully these three steps can get you up off your butt and on the meal planning train. Over time it can become a good habit and you won’t even notice you do it anymore.
Ultimately meal planning should make your life easier and help you and your family eat good food, even in a hurry 😉 For more ideas take a look at our Pinterest boards and other blog posts for gluten-free and low FODMAP recipes.
Much love & good eating,