I used to eat frozen meals every day for lunch, it just seemed easier. Then one day, I looked at the nutrition label on the back and wondered if there was anything nutritious in the meal, and it was a healthy frozen meal! Now I spend a little time each week prepping my meals and they’re healthier, more nutritious and I can eat more!
It all starts with your list. When you make a list, you’re more likely to stick to it. Plan out your healthy meals for the week by looking at grocery ads to find out what is on sale. Last week, we found a great deal on strawberries, pineapple and cheese. So we’ve been having fresh strawberries, teriyaki chicken & pineapple and pizza. If thinking about breakfast, lunch and dinner planning is too much – start with the most important to you. Maybe you need a boost in the morning – look for breakfast items. If you’re tempted by the daily office treats – plan for lunch options. And if you want your family to eat better – start with dinner items.
If you need ideas, look online. I’ve made a meal ideas list, so our family can just rotate through different meal options and I don’t have to think about what to do. I’ve also found tons of great recipe ideas on my Pinterest Healthy Meals and Pinterest Main Dish recipe pages. If you don’t know where to start, look online for ideas. If looking online even seems to big of a task, start by listing your 10 easiest or favorite meals to prepare and posting this in your kitchen. When you think of something else that sounds good, add it to this list. Aim for 30 meal ideas on your list – that should get you through a month.
Buy healthy foods that you like. When you’re hungry for a snack and you open the fridge, if you’ve got a good variety of healthy foods you like, you are more likely to pick the healthy foods. I prep healthy foods on the weekend, so I can grab them throughout the week. We’ve also limited our pre-packaged sweets – If I want a cookie or cupcake, I have to make it from scratch. This makes me really think about what I’m doing and I end up eating them less often.
Change up flavors to keep things interesting. Can’t drink plain water anymore? Add fruits and vegetables to water for an interesting twist – and to encourage you to drink more water throughout the day. I change things up with my snacks weekly. One week it may be celery & carrots, next week it will be apples & oranges, I’ve also done bananas & pistachios and grapes & cheese. By giving myself a basic rotation, I can change things up without too much work and keep healthy snacks interesting.
Keep healthy snacks where kids can grab them. Our kids, especially our youngest, love junk food. Yes, we still do have this in our house. But we also have lots of good snacks for the kids to see on the bottom shelf right where they can reach them. We always offer these snacks to the kids first and it works most of the time. Kids will follow your lead, if you make your healthy snacks visible, you’ll start to make it a habit for the whole family.
Plan meals around fresh foods. I love it when fresh food is on sale at the grocery stores – we certainly stock up. And I always make my meals rotate around the fresh foods we’ve gotten. Make the freshest items the centerpiece of your meal and plan everything else around it. When the fresh food starts to lose it’s freshness, get creative. Fruit can be frozen for smoothies, peppers can be frozen for fajitas, and old milk and brown bananas make great banana bread.
Prep foods on the weekends or when you have time. I spend 1-2 hours every weekend organizing groceries or prepping food & snacks for the week. I rotate foods from my deep freeze to my freezer and reorganize the fridge and pantry to make the items we’ll use that week visible. I put everything on the counter that I need to prep and work my way through my visual to do list weekly. I’ll chop vegetables while I’m boiling pasta noodles, I’ll cut chicken while I’m baking bread and I’ll mix lemonade while I’m refrigerating cookie dough – by using my bonus minutes, I cut down on my time in the kitchen – start with the task that has “wait” time and fill that time with another task. Remember, start small, so you know you can get it done.
You can make your food healthier this weekend, just start with a reasonable goal and devote some time to getting your project done. You can even involve kids in easy tasks to make it more fun for everyone. Once you’ve mastered your first goal, continue to add to you healthy food system until you’ve reached your ultimate goal – reducing the junk, eating healthier and feeling better!