It's All on the Menu

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The best smart-eating tip I can offer: you gotta plan out the menu people!

And these are my best strategies for menu planning:

1. Make a list of all the common meals you make for yourself or your family. You can do this with snacks and drinks too. I want to add my very own list to this blog very soon so I have my own record. Because sometimes when it's time to go to the grocery store, you just plumb can't think of anything to make. Continue adding to this list as you add new recipes to your repertoire.

2. Do a search at Cooking Light or SparkRecipes for more healthful versions of your favorites or try to do a few heart-healthy swaps (light sour cream versus the full-fat version). I bought a Taste of Home Comfort Food Diet cookbook that improves upon a good share of our family favorites in one book. Printing real recipes with actual nutrition labels also helps keep you honest about each serving.

3. Now go back through that meal list and place notes next to each meal listing the ingredients you'll need for each recipe.

4. Each week, plot out every breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack. This is not as hard as it sounds. It's perfectly OK to have nutritious waffles with blueberries all week so you need only buy those two things. For snacks, all you need is a carton of eggs for a hard-boiled snack or a bag of apples and bottle of peanut butter. Add the ingredients for these meals to your weekly shopping list.

5. I always find it helpful to jot down the meals and snacks I've planned on a white board or scrap of paper so I don't forget by Thursday what I actually had in mind. I scratch the meals off as I go.

This one simple meal-planning strategy sounds way too easy, but it really works. And as a bonus, it keeps our grocery bills much lower than ever!

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