These 5 healthy meal planning tips for busy families will make eating healthy easy. Nix the struggling to put healthy meals on the table.
Healthy meals don’t have to mean spending hours in the kitchen daily.
Read on to learn how to implement healthy meal planning for your busy family quickly and smoothly!
I need to emphasize that healthy meal planning is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that healthy eating habits become routine.
But meal planning can be challenging when your life is busy. I have gathered the 5 top ways to make healthy meal planning easier.
You might have heard that you must start planning far in advance. Yes, you do need to do some work ahead, but no, you don’t have to spend your precious Sunday off from work cooking all day long.
Health Meal Planning Success Starts Here with These 5 Tips
1. Make a list of meals for the week.
Start your meal planning off right by creating a week of menus all at once. This vital task saves you from thinking hard about what to cook each day.
Mornings are usually rush-rush, and there is little time to develop a healthy meal without forethought. And, at the end of a long work day, no one wants to worry about what to serve for dinner.
First, try choosing recipes that use up some of the foods you have on hand. Then, you might not need to buy as much of something else to complete a recipe.
Second, ask your family what they want to eat for meals and snacks. Surveying them helps makes everyone happy about what you serve and, as a result, meal time is more pleasant. And, you can work with each person to find what healthy food they will happily eat.
After you have created a few weekly menus, remember to save your menus from prior weeks. This way, when a busy week hits, you can choose to repeat what you have done before. This tip can be a lifesaver when you are low on time and energy.
Over time, you can choose your top favorite four weeks for hot weather meals and four weeks for cold weather meals, and repeat, repeat!
Planning ahead helps ensure you get all the nutrients you need each day because you have chosen nutritious meals when you are focused. If you wait and grab something at the last minute, nutrition usually falls to the wayside.
Another tip for successful healthy meal planning is that you’ll be more likely to follow through with your plans if you make them as simple as possible. Don’t suddenly decide you are Martha Stewart and plan four-course meals for each work night.
2. Make a Shop-Once-Per-Week Grocery List
Yes, you can create a system where you only need to drive to the grocery store once per week. This step alone saves you time for other essential tasks and fun in your life while ensuring healthy meals.
The first step is to look through your pantry and refrigerator to see what items are out of stock. I use the free AnyList app on my phone to keep a “Staples List” on my phone for items I want to ensure I purchase every week.
Next, since you already have made a list of meals for the week in step one, you can quickly scan each recipe to know what you need to buy and add those items to the shopping list.
It is also easier to adhere to a diet when you have the healthy food you need for every meal, and you don’t have the junk that would throw you off track – so stick to your list when shopping.
3. Add vegetables to everything.
Vegetables often get left out. They round out a meal in terms of nutrition as well as satisfaction. Meals with colorful vegetables are appealing to the eye and get a boost of flavor and variety.
Also, vegetables fill you up, so you eat less junk from a lack of satisfaction with your meal. This extra nutrition and fiber help you not to overeat when you want to lose or maintain weight.
Add vegetables to soups, salads, sandwiches, pasta, rice, smoothies, and desserts. Yes, vegetables go in desserts – think carrot cake and zucchini bread.
4. Don’t Forget About Leftovers.
It is important to remember the role leftovers can play in a healthy diet.
In fact, purposeful leftovers are a healthy meal planning dream helper.
Purposeful leftovers are leftovers that you make “on purpose.” Purposeful leftovers would be making extra servings to bring to work for lunch. I do this every Sunday. This strategy makes eating healthy for lunch a breeze.
Purposeful leftovers would be making an entire second batch, such as two pans of a casserole, and refrigerating or freezing one for another night.
5. Cook Simple Meals.
If you learn to cook simply, you can still have fantastic nutrition but save a lot of time in the kitchen.
Cooking simply means one-pot, quick cooking, or small ingredient list recipes. Cooking this way does not mean you have to give up elaborate celebration meals, but those significant endeavors can be saved for special occasions. These meals will be even more appreciated when they come around.
Finally, keep your healthy meal planning simple by cooking recipes that take less than 30 minutes.
I, of course, highly recommend my cookbook, SHORTCUT REAL FOOD: 20-minute meals for the best of the best in healthy meal planning. Every snack, drink, dessert, and entire meal (sides included) in the cookbook is complete in 20 minutes or less.
To learn more about SHORTCUT REAL FOOD: 20-minute meals, click To learn more about SHORTCUT REAL FOOD: 20-minute meals, click here.
Click Click here to purchase SHORTCUT REAL FOOD: 20-minute meals cookbook. to purchase SHORTCUT REAL FOOD: 20-minute meals cookbook.
Bonus Healthy Meal Planning Tips:
Have your kids make their lunches and help in the kitchen.
Kids love making lunchtime fun by choosing what goes into their packed lunches. They also enjoy meals more when they help prepare the food.
See my “Quick & Healthy Lunches for School” post for all the details to make this a success.
For more on making healthy eating easy read the post, “The Key to Easy Healthy Quick Meals.“
This blog post is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat any health condition or to be prescriptive for anyone. Always be sure to work with your healthcare practitioner before making any changes.