Planning is the Key Ingredient to Good Nutrition
I absolutely LOVE food. Fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, nuts, legumes, pasta/breads, I love it all. I’m also a planner. I just feel better about life if I have it planned out. So you would THINK that I would have naturally put these two things together long ago. Actually, it wasn’t until January of this year that I had an epiphany thanks to a good friend and fellow foodie-planner. She invited me over to her house for dinner one night. I brought a large chef salad and she cooked up her favorite lemon pepper salmon recipe. Oh yeah, and there may or may not have been a bottle of wine on the table too. As we were enjoying one another’s company, my eye was drawn to something on her fridge. It was a small dry erase board with blocks for each day of the week. Inside each block were food items. “What’s the calendar on your fridge?” I asked. “Oh, that’s my food plan for the week!” she responded proudly.
She went on to explain that at the start of each week she looks at her calendar to determine which nights she will eat at home. Then she writes out a protein and a vegetable she wants to cook up for each of those nights. The calendar converts easily to a shopping list to stock up on all of the necessary groceries. With a plan in place and a stocked fridge ready to go, weekday meals become a breeze! I was skeptical at first. But then I thought about all the times I went to the grocery store without a plan. After wandering around aimlessly for an hour, I would end up with a cart full of groceries, half of which would probably end up in the trash can. I was tired of throwing away our hard earned money so figured why not try it out for a few weeks?
What resulted was pure perfection. I started by turning to a tool that I’ve subscribed to for several years but just never fully utilized – the Emeals menu planning app. I don’t consider myself to be a natural cook so I find it extremely difficult to come up with ideas on my own, let alone create dishes that have flavor! With Emeals, we can pick the type of eating plan that fits us best - low carb in our case because it eliminates a lot of the processed foods we are trying to avoid. Every week a new set of 6-7 dinner recipes is added to the app. They even archive meals from previous weeks so the longer you use it, the more recipes you have at your fingertips. Oh, and the meals are delicious, complete with a protein and veggie. It actually makes me look like a cooking genius! Exhibits A and B:
On Sunday mornings at breakfast, the hubby and I talk about our schedules for the week. We figure out the number of nights we’ll eat at home and then pick out the corresponding number of dinners. The Emeals app makes it easy to grocery shop by adding the foods for your chosen meals to a shopping list. We head to the store, pick up everything we need on our shopping list, buy extra fruits, veggies, and protein items for snacks, and head back home. After the fridge is loaded, I write out the days of the week and the dinner we’ll have each night on our dry erase board. That way, whoever gets home first knows what we’re having and can start cooking.
Planning has saved us a ton of money by reducing the amount of food we waste. It has also helped us eat healthier, more balanced meals. Rather than scrounging around for food at the end of the day and settling for mac and cheese, we have restaurant-quality, highly nutritious foods ready to go. Give menu planning a try. Emeals even has a free two week trial if you want to take it for a test drive. Let me know what you think or if you have any questions!