10 Steps to a Healthy Meal Plan 3

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You think meal planning, and you think, UGH! It’s really not that bad and it’s not that hard. I’m going to share with you some suggestions I’ve incorporated into my life for many years and tips that I share with my personal training and nutrition clients. This I can tell you for sure, families that eat home cooked meals will eat healthier than those that eat out often. Meal planning is also SUPER helpful to ensure you cook healthy and well balanced meals.

Getting Organized – The idea of meal planning for all 3 meals each day of every week does seem a bit daunting. I suggest starting with dinner, since here in America IMG_5188that is generally the families biggest meal of the day. Planning meals on the weekend tends to work best for me, but you will need to determine what is best for your schedule. I usually hit at least 2 grocery stores per week in order to take advantage of specials. The first trip is normally on the weekend and then I stop by the other as I am out and about during the week. In order to save money I do shop by specials as much as I possibly can. Therefore my freezer is always stocked with meat that I have purchased at best price. This will allow you a variety of meats to choose from when planning your meals. The other big factor will be the weekly produce specials.

I have several sources I pull from to pick my entree’s. First I have my personal collection of recipes from childhood days & family recipes. My favorite online resources are Pinterest, Skinny Taste, and All Recipes . If you are not currently using Pinterest see some of my Pinterest tips below. Then of course you can pull from magazines you subscribe to. I personally enjoy, Cooking Light Magazine (avail. online), Health Magazine (avail online), Weight Watcher magazine (available online for a fee), Family Circle.IMG_2422 In your spare time (spare time… that may be a big haha), for me that is when I travel and am sitting on a plane, I peruse my magazines, tear out interesting recipes and then Pin them on Pinterest. Before too long you have an excellent collection to pull from, so no reason for you or your family to get bored with the same old thing.

Making The Meal Plan – 

  1. Start by looking at the family calendar and figuring out how many meals you will likely be cooking that week.
  2. Determine how many quick meals are needed and how many you can spend a little more time on.
  3. Grab your grocery store ad that arrives weekly, or pull them up online.
  4. Do a quick check in your freezer for available meat options.
  5. Make a list for each grocery store you plan to visit.
  6. On your grocery list write meat specials for future freezer stock.
  7. Add produce specials at each store you can potentially buy/use.
  8. Now you are ready to start the meal plan list. Peruse your recipe sources and center your meal planning around the fresh produce specials for the week and the meats that you have available. Look for recipes that will use those ingredients.
  9. Consider your side dishes/vegetables. If you are making BBQ Chicken one night, or something you will need additional sides – write down your veggies, salad or side dishes
  10. After you have your list of dinner meals, go through each recipe and write down any additional ingredients you need to purchase to complete that dish.

IMG_5270Your list does not need to be fancy. Just a quick hand written plan. You might want to make note of where the recipe is so that you can find it quickly when ready to cook. You can see on my sample how I’ve noted my source and what my quick meals options are. I do not assign each meal to a specific day, although you could if you want to. Each morning I look at my list, decide what I am making and take out meat to thaw if necessary.

What About Lunch? – Our family is big on leftovers, so that make lunches much easier. We eat leftovers for lunch a large majority of the time. If you are cooking for a  family and don’t usually have leftovers, consider doubling your recipe for leftovers or for freezing. In most case it doesn’t take much more time to make double the amount. On non leftover days have the standard sandwich fare on hand. Add to your grocery list any staple ingredients for sandwiches, fruits, and snacks that may be needed.

Fast Idea for Breakfast Planning – I find that most people do not need the variety of meals at breakfast as they do at dinner. My recommendations is to have 3-7 standard breakfast options in your house with all ingredients available on a weekly basis and then you don’t require much planning. See my list (at bottom) that I made for a client of healthy breakfast options. Especially at breakfast try to plan on having a combo of some healthy grains/protein. This will sustain you and your family through the morning much longer than if you only eat one or the other.

Additional Tips – If idea of #7 above is a bit overwhelming, a great source for you will be Allrecipes.com. On that site you can plug in a few main ingredients you would like to use and it will then produce a slew of recipes that you can consider. I USE THIS A LOT. So for example, I want to use ground beef and cauliflower. I type that in and voila’, instant options. When using this site I do a lot of recipe modification to keep dishes healthy, but at least you have a main recipe as a starting point.

Pinterest – What an incredible recipe resource as well as organizational tool. If you currently are not using Pinterest I would highly suggest getting started. Tip – When you create your Pinterest boards, break your recipe categories down quite a bit. If you are to broad it will make it hard to find recipes later as your collection grows. Some of my categories are: Breakfast, Brunch, Beverages, Appetizers, Soups & Salads, Entrees, Slow Cooker, Breads, Desserts, Side Dishes. You might choose to break yours down even further.

This delicious dish includes spinach, tomato and heart healthy avocado.

This delicious dish includes spinach, tomato and heart healthy avocado.

Have fun with your planning. Experiment with new recipes. Let your children and husband chime in with requests. If they are requesting something that isn’t healthy, I guarantee you that you can find a healthy option very similar to the original online. Sneak vegetables in at every opportunity. Vegetables can often be hidden in dishes and kids won’t even know they are eating them. Add  heart healthy nuts, chia seeds etc to your yogurt, oatmeal and smoothies. Adopting a healthy eating lifestyle will benefit your family in every possible way and you will be teaching your children excellent habits. Please feel free to message me with any questions you have. Bon Appetite!



Breakfast ideas:

Breakfast #1

1 Bread choice – see options listed in Breakfast #2
1 tsp butter or light butter or butter spray
1 fried egg (with Pam), boiled or poached or (1 egg scrambled with 1/4 c. Egg white in carton
+1 T RF grated cheese)

Breakfast #2
Yogurt – options Danon Greek Light & Fit Yogurt, Kroger Carbmaster, Oikos Triple Zero, or Plain Nonfat Greek yogurt (add your own fruit and honey)
1 bread options: Thomas Whole Grain w/w english muffin, whole wheat bagel thin or 1/2 of a regular whole wheat bagel, Dave’s Killer Bread 21 grain thin slice,
1 T. RF cream cheese if you choose bagel

Breakfast #3
P.B Chocolate Oatmeal
1/2 c. quick oats
1/2 c. nonfat milk or almond milk
1/4 c. water
1/3 scoop vanilla or chocolate protein powder
1 T. mini chocolate chips
1 T. Natural P.B. (I prefer crunchy style)
shake of ground cinnamon if you like it, option to add 1/3 banana chopped
Put oats, milk and water in a good size bowl. (needs room to expand) Put in microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. Watch to make sure it does not boil over. Add protein powder, P.B., chocolate chips and cinnamon, banana. Stir and eat

Breakfast #4
Chocolate, Banana, Peanut Butter Smoothie
In Blender or Bullet add all ingredients and then blend:
4-5 Ice Cubes
1/2 c. Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt
1/2 T. Natural P. B. (I prefer crunchy)
1.5 T. PB2 (dried peanuts)
1/3 scoop vanilla protein powder
1/2 c. almond milk or nonfat milk
1.5 T Cocoa Powder
3/4 of a medium banana

Breakfast #5
See same egg options from breakfast #1
Hilshire Farms Turkey Polska Kielbasa Sausage/Hilshire Farms Smoked Turkey Sausage 2 oz
Bread option – 1 piece Dave’s Killer 21 grain thin slice, 1/2 of a W/W Bagel Thin or 1/2 of w/w Thomas English Muffin
1 T. RF cream cheese or spray of butter

Breakfast #6
1/2 C. Cottage Cheese
1/2 c. chopped fruit
1 Bread option – See options for breakfast #2


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