We’ve all been there: eating a meal out of speed and convenience, only to feel bad about it after.
If your goal is to eat healthy meals on a consistent basis, planning plays a critical factor in holding you to a healthy meal plan.
Regardless of how busy you are, meal planning on a weekly or monthly basis cuts down on grocery shopping time and effort, because it focuses your search and ensures your money is spent wisely. You know exactly what you need for the week and are able to buy in bulk when your chosen recipes require overlapping ingredients.
One of our favorite and most successful meal-planning strategies is to plan in themes.
Below are some tips and sample theme nights with recipes to help you focus your family’s eating habits with ease and simplicity.
Perfecting Your Themed Meal-Planning Method
Before assigning meal themes to each night of the week, you want to consider some questions:
What does my family like to eat? Answering this question is critical for ensuring enthusiasm and participation.
What patterns exist in my family’s eating habits? If your family sticks with chicken or prefers red meat, then you need to get specific with your themes.
Which night is the busiest night of the week? Reserve time-saving recipes for nights when kitchen time is restricted. Pasta, slow-cookers and sandwiches are all easy on meal prep.
Which day of the week is best for grocery shopping? Just because the official start of the workweek falls on Monday doesn’t mean you have to do all of your grocery shopping on Sunday, or that new meal themes have to begin every Monday. Find a method that works best with your schedule.
What are your eating and cooking goals? If you have specific kitchen equipment or cookbooks you want to use, take them into consideration when planning themes. If you’re trying to eat more vegetables, consider substituting starches with a double side of vegetables.
Planning Nightly Meals By Themes
Meatless Monday: Start the week off right by eating healthy. Look for recipes the emphasize vegetables or meat substitutes, like beans or tofu.
Sample Recipe: Quinoa With Kale, Mushrooms And Sweet Potatoes
Taco Tuesday: The most meal prep involved with tacos is preparing your fixings. The meat filling – when focusing on fast marinades or pre-made seasonings – is often easy to prepare.
Sample Recipe: Tilapia Tacos With Guacamole
Breakfast For Dinner Wednesday: Daily breakfast options should be fast, simple and delicious. When you find the right recipe, breakfast for dinner can be a delight.
Sample Recipe: Tasty Breakfast Burrito
Italian Thursday: Eating around the globe is an idea that lasts for weeks. Once you’ve cycled through your favorite world cuisines, focus on the recipes that were the biggest hits and try another one of the same style.
Sample Recipe: One-Pot Pasta With Tomato-Basil Sauce
Pizza Friday: Making pizza is a hands-on activity that takes the pressure off you and puts the fun in the hands of other family members. Plus, who doesn’t like pizza?
Sample Recipe: Pesto, Sausage And Tomato Pizza
Crock-Pot Saturday: What’s better than prepping your ingredients and letting the entire concoction cook while you go out and enjoy a freewheeling Saturday?
Sample Recipe: Dad's Spicy Chili
Sandwich Sunday: Put a new spin on an old sandwich favorite or try out new ideas with fresh ingredients and locally baked breads. Also, feel free to substitute wraps for breads if you’re concerned with cutting carbs.
Sample Recipe: Crispy Chicken BLT
Understanding The Importance Of Meal Planning
Waiting until the end of the day to decide what’s for dinner is stressful for anyone, even if you’re a whiz in the kitchen. When you feel pressured to put anything on the table for dinner, you start to eat foods that leave you feeling unsatisfied and, above all, unhealthy.
Meal planning helps you and your family eat right, regardless of life’s other pressures. Plus, meal planning with your family gets everyone to sit down at the table for good food and good company.