Let’s face it, we’re all spending more time at our jobs, and with both partners bringing home the bacon, cooking on the fly just doesn’t cut it anymore. Lengthy drive-times also impact the time and energy we have when we get home and have to prepare meals.
The temptation then is to reach for something less than healthy. But takeout, while convenient, is taking its toll on our waistlines and our budgets.
If you think menu planning takes too much time, think again: It can actually take the burden off of busy people trying to shop and cook in quick succession after an already-hectic day working. With a little forethought, we can get back the time spent grocery shopping during weeknights after work, racing home to cook, eating late (which can contribute to putting on extra pounds), and cleaning up even later. Planning allows us to sleep better so that we can be more rested and productive when we rise and shine. And you might even have more time to work out!
Try these menu-planning tips to restore some time, money and nutritional balance:
- Make a list of favorite dishes (have your family chime in!), and search for new ones you’d like to try online or via cookbooks and magazines.
- Plan out a week of meals at a time, and make a shopping list in advance of hitting the grocery store.
- Police your pantry (what’s in there already that you can use?).
- Shop only once a week, think about what’s in season, and keep it fresh – with veggies aplenty as well as a mix of cuisines (try lighter Italian fare one night, Middle Eastern another).
- Rotate your menus to keep things interesting. But also feel free to make a switch and swap things out! Also, utilize leftovers for weekday lunches or weekend meals.
- Your picture-perfect plate should be heavier on veggies and fruits (half the plate), with lean protein (especially chicken or fish) covering one quarter. Make the rest whole grains (give brown rice or quinoa a go).
Menu planning can help you and your family be healthier, wealthier and wiser!
By Lisa Miceli Feliciano
Sources include: www.mayoclinic.org