Meal Planning

We all strive to eat healthier but unfortunately healthy eating usually does require some added time and effort for planning and preparing meals and snacks. The extra time and energy is however well worth it when you consider the health benefits, enhanced mood, improved cognition and the money saved when choosing healthier alternatives to the more processed convenience foods.  

Our best advice for making lasting healthier changes to your diet is to set aside some time to make a plan for how you're going to achieve it.  An hour a week (perhaps on lazy Sunday afternoon) to plan ahead and prepare will help you to make better choices throughout the week.  Here are 4 ways of getting started:
  1. Plan a basic menu for the week, so that you know what ingredients you need and aren’t wasting time every night trying to figure out what to make, or heading to the grocery store multiple times in a week. Here's a sample of what your weekly menu might look like:

sample meal plan

Like this template?  You can download it for free for Microsoft Office here.

  1. Pick up ingredients you will need for the week at the grocery store, and make sure you have basic staples on hands like: 
  • Canola or olive oil
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Canned beans and chickpeas
  • Canned tuna (in water, not oil)
  • Herbs & spices (Italian seasoning, ground ginger, garlic powder, curry powder, basil, oregano, dill, cumin, salt and pepper) – save money by buying small amounts from the bulk food store, and store in sealed bags or air-tight containers to keep them fresh
  • Pasta or rice noodles, brown rice, and quinoa
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Unsalted nuts & seeds (walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds) and/or peanut butter
          And stock your freezer and fridge with basics like:
  • Eggs
  • Cheese 
  • Milk
  • Pesto (in a jar)
  • Fresh vegetables – spinach, tomatoes, red and green peppers, broccoli, carrots, celery, or whatever else you like
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Lean ground beef, turkey or chicken
  • Chicken legs, thighs or breasts
  • Lean cuts of beef, lamb, goat or pork
  1. As soon as you get home from the grocery store, wash and chop vegetables to have as snacks, and to add to your meals.  You’ll be more likely to reach for the healthy stuff if it is ready-to-eat instead of hidden down in your fridge’s crisper!  Cutting up onions, red and green peppers, carrots, broccoli or other fresh vegetables and storing them in small containers for the next few days will also help save you time when you go to cook a meal.
  2. Make a big batch of soup, casserole, stir fry or chilli that you can freeze into single servings for another day. These will come in handy for days when you feel too rushed or too tired to cook.