I can’t believe we had a snow day last week! Growing up in the DC area, we had plenty of snow days but I don’t remember having one for so little snow. I then went to college in upstate New York and it was a pretty big deal when we had a half day for about 2 feet of snow. It’s funny to see how different parts of the country handle snow so differently. With my day off, I made some meals for the rest of the weekend and froze some to last me into this week. I think it’s important to plan meals in advance so that I know what it is that I am going to eat and to make sure that I get all the nutrition I need for the week. In class, we stress the importance of meal planning so that people have a strategy when they get to the grocery store. It’s easy to be tempted by impulse items that are strategically placed at the end of the aisle or in the checkout line when you don’t have a plan. It’s also easy to forget ingredients for a recipe when you don’t make a list- I’ve done that too many times! By making a list before heading off to the store, you can save money, time and ensure a week of healthy meals.
Some strategies you can use to ensure a happily planned week of meals that are low cost and nutritious:
Look at the weekly ad before you start- are there items on sale that you can use for some recipes you like? I generally check out what proteins are on sale and make a plan based on that. I then pick a vegetable or two that are on sale that I can pair with that protein and pick up a whole grain to round out the meal. Aim for a meal that will fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, a quarter with a whole grain like brown rice or quinoa, and a quarter with a lean protein such as chicken, lean cuts of meat or fish.
Look at coupons- are some of your favorite snack foods on sale like yogurt, nuts, dried fruits? What coupons can you use to make a healthy snack or supplement to a meal? Be sure to check the prices of store brands, though, they will often still be cheaper than brand name items with a coupon!
Plan for leftovers- make more than you need for one meal and save it for a meal later on in the week. Some of my favorite lunches are leftovers from the dinner I made the night before.
Before you go shopping, make a list. Base the list on what is on sale and the recipes that you picked out for the week.
Eat before you go shopping- it will help you stay focused on buying only what’s on your list and not on what would taste really good right then…
Consider buying frozen fruits and vegetables, especially for meals you’ve planned to eat at the end of the week to make sure you don’t waste fresh foods that can go rotten before you can use them.
By having a plan, you’ll be able to buy only the things you need. You can make healthy meals and make sure you’re going to be buying enough whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, dairy and healthy fats. How do you prepare for the grocery store and for a week’s worth of meals?