Diane May Nutrition Blog

How To Meal Plan

June 4th, 2020

The term meal planning is thrown around all the time, but rarely is it explained how to do it. It may seem daunting, but once you get the hang of it, it is an extremely useful tool and can significantly reduce food waste. As food costs rise and availability of food items you may want decrease, meal planning can be a savior. I feel more and more people are cooking and now is the optimal time to learn to meal plan.

  • Pick a day that you can sit down and plot your meals for the week.  I plan my meals on Sunday, which takes me through the whole week ahead.
  • Look at the recipes that you would like to use. Try and find at least a few that use similar/same ingredients.
  • Create a grocery list to incorporate all the ingredients you will need. The more similar the ingredients, the less you will need to stock. Consider how you might repurpose food items into other meals, for example-Day 1: Rotisserie chicken, steamed broccoli (leave off stems), cabbage slaw and quinoa. Day 2: Chinese chicken salad w/ leftover rotisserie chicken on a bed of shredded cabbage and broccoli stems and side of quinoa with chopped up leftover broccoli. Great salad dressing-low sodium soy sauce, sesame oil, fresh minced ginger and garlic. Day 3: Last of rotisserie chicken and bones-make a stock. After it has cooked, remove bones and add any/all leftover vegetables and some frozen vegetables and seasonings of your choice, and if there is any leftover quinoa, add at end.
  • Think of all dry goods, condiments and extras you may need for the week. Do not over purchase snacks, but include enough for the week.
  • Do NOT overbuy. Keep healthy, more perishable items, such as berries and yogurt, towards the front of the fridge to reduce spoilage and so that you will not forget you have them!
  • Once you get your groceries, prep vegetables and chop up as much as you can to reduce some of the daily prep time.
  • Most important….Stick to the meal plan. If you have healthy options in the house, use them! No need for takeout or unhealthy options.  If it is not in the house, you will not eat it.

As people have been in their homes, the temptation to wander into the kitchen and snack and pick has increased. By meal planning and sticking to your food list, you reduce temptation and have a better ability to create a safe food environment. If you don’t bring it into the house, you can’t eat it. If you really hate cooking, investigate healthy frozen meal options and steam fresh vegetables. Stock up on fresh produce, low fat/non fat dairy, lean proteins and whole, complex grains. Planning your meals leads to a healthier lifestyle.

Thai Turkey Lettuce Cups

Thai Turkey Lettuce Cups
Photo: Caitlin Bensel
Active Time 20 Mins
Total Time 20 Mins
Yield Serves 4 (serving size: 3 filled lettuce cups)

Crisp, delicate butter lettuce leaves have a cup shape that’s perfect for holding the sweet-and-savory ground turkey mixture and crunchy, colorful vegetables. The key is not to weigh down the cups with too much filling so they don’t tear. Add some heat with crushed red pepper or a diced red Fresno chile. The sugar here not only balances the vinegar tang; it also helps the meat caramelize and develop wonderful crispy bits in the pan. You could use ground pork or a tofu scramble in place of turkey. If you can’t find butter lettuce leaves, you can cut romaine leaves crosswise, removing the wide part of the rib.