TREAT YOURSELF WITH MEAL PLANNING
Wouldn’t you like to get up each morning and not have to think about what you were going to have for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Wouldn’t it be great to just know what the plan was for the day? Not only that, wouldn’t it be wonderful to know that all the ingredients and supplies you need would already be in your pantry/refrigerator? With a little organization and planning, you can eliminate the daily stress of figuring out what to eat each day.
Initially, it will take a little time to get organized, but the effort will result in less stress and more time for other activities in the long run. The more you plan, the easier it gets. Strive eventually to have at least two weeks planned at any given time. You will always have a plan for every day, but with the option to change your mind any time. Maybe you decide to go out to eat. Maybe something else sounds better that day. Maybe there’s a potluck at church. You get the idea. At that point, you just move that meal’s plan to a following week’s schedule. The key is flexibility and variety (try new recipes, change your mind, eat leftovers, pull something out of the freezer).
If you are a member of Weight Watchers, you will also be able to track food points and stay within goal. Not having a plan is a pathway to failure.
Cooking so that you have enough to eat AND enough to put in the freezer will give you future options for your meal planning. Freezing food in individual servings is another tool for flexibility, especially if you have people eating at different times. The microwave is our friend.
Helps for planning weekly meals:
Check and note weekly appointments/activities on your meal plan form
You may want to plan something simple for that day
Check grocery ad and start your grocery list
You may want to plan a meal around something on sale
Check your freezer list (kept in your 3-ring binder)
Plan some meals around items already in your freezer
Check previous weeks’ plans for ideas (once you have accumulated some)
Favorites are good repeats
Check out your local farmers’ market each week
Plan menus, using items from the market
Optional – Go through your recipes and create a list of favorite meals by category to keep in your binder
Use for ideas when planning meals
Actual Planning of Meals
Sit at a table with your 3-ring binder, pencil w/eraser, calendar with your appointments & activities for the week, grocery ad, grocery list or cellphone, freezer lists, recipes, favorite meals list:
Use a pencil to note the day/date at the top of the meal plan form for each day
Check your calendar and note any appointments or activities for each day
Check your grocery ad for sales on items you might want to use that week
Start your grocery list with the sale items
Using your freezer lists, plan some meals around what you currently have
Plan your main meals (old & new recipes, recipe books, previous repeats, etc.)
Plan your lunches (you may go out, planned leftovers, simple sandwiches, soup)
Plan your breakfast meals
Use planned recipes to complete your grocery list for the week
Put your recipes in the front pocket of your binder to use for the current week
Note: For WW, your main meal usually has the most points, so planning it first allows you to adjust your points for the other two meals of the day. Or, for instance, if I know I’m going out to lunch with friends, I will plan very low points for breakfast and dinner that day. I also created a WW Eating Out list of local restaurants that I carry in my purse so I can eat sensibly when I do go out.
Categories for List of Favorite Meals
Breakfast Salads Lunch Sides/Breads
Dessert Soup Dinner
3-ring binder with a pocket in front and back
Meal plan/tracking form (see sample)
Calendar w/ your activities and appointments
Something to write your grocery list on or use your cellphone
List of items in freezers – refrigerator and chest or upright (in pencil)
WW calculator (optional)
WW food guides (optional)
Note: Use a pencil for your freezer list so that you can erase items as you use them and add items as you purchase them. This way, you will always know what is available in your freezers for planning your meals.
This might seem complicated, but it isn’t. Once you get in the habit of regular planning, you will absolutely love getting up each day and knowing that there is already a plan in place for the day. That means more time for you to do and think about other things. It’s freeing! It’s less stress! You will love it!