Monday, April 2, 2012

The Importance of Family Meal Planning


It's not uncommon for people's lives to get extremely busy, making it difficult to take time out for the important things such as meal planning.  Did you know meal planning is the key element for your family to be successful when trying to consume healthier meals?  It can help save money and time, while ensuring well-balanced meals are available.  A lack of meal planning can lead to that quick trip to the drive-thru fast food chain or a call for delivery pizza.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

What is meal planning?  Simply put, meal planning means to plan your meals in advance.  Planning your meals and snacks ahead of time could occur several hours or even several days before the actual meal will take place.  At a minimum, you may find it helpful to plan your meals at least 24 hours in advance.




Tips for Family Meal Planning:

1.      Involve the entire family.  Include your entire family (partner, child, parent, etc.) in the meal planning process.  Try to include something that everyone suggests at every meal.  If you are not able to do that try to rotate people’s preferences.  When everyone is involved in the process, they will likely be more willing and excited about what is prepared.
2.     Buy meal staples. When you go grocery shopping make sure to purchase staples such as grains, frozen vegetables, cereal, beans, etc.  Each of these items can contribute to a healthy meal.
3.     Look ahead for extra busy days and make leftovers.  If you know that you have busy days in the coming future try to cook double portions on the not so busy days.  You may even consider cooking extra portions and freezing food for later meals.  Some people use the weekend days to cook all of their meals for the upcoming meals.  
4.      Use a shopping list. One of the golden rules for meal planning is to make a grocery list.  Before you head to the supermarket brainstorm with your family on possible meals, everyone would like to eat.  Make a list of the ingredients needed to complete the meals.
5.     Pack food.   An excellent example of meal planning is to pack a snack or meal for your on-the-go lifestyle.  Packing food can alleviate meal skipping and poor food choices when you are in a situation with limited choices.
6.     Cook meal staples in advance.  Cook such meal staples as chicken, beans, or grains to have on the stock when you have limited time to prepare a meal.
7.     Plan your fruit shopping.  Unfortunately, most fruits have a limited shelf life.  Plan to go fruit shopping at your local farmers market, grocery store, or pass by a local fruit stand.

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