Think it sounds boring? Some people feel that they’ll never get organised to add meal pre-planning to their day or week of chores – let’s face it we’re all so busy anyway!!!
But if the main person in charge of food shopping and preparation in the household, is trying to lose some extra kilos, then the chances are that once they get used to this process, they’ll find not only do they save time and money, they’ll be less stressed, and they’ll also avoid food wastage.
So, what is the best way to develop a meal pre-planning habit?
Pre-plan meals for a week in advance – this should only take 30 minutes and will limit the emotional labour of thinking about what’s for dinner to once a week. There is a lot to be said for reducing decision-making processes. Develop a list of family favourites to get rid of starting from scratch.
Meal planning ensures that people never get caught out and end up ordering take-away if the day suddenly gets busy or sometimes people get caught out working later than expected. Meal pre-planning is one of the best strategies we know to help get and stay on track.
Make up a shopping list. Warning: Never go shopping without a shopping list. Ask “What sort of shopper am I? Weekly or daily?” Some may choose to do one big shop on the weekend, saving even more of time and petrol money. If two or three times through the week, always plan for at least two days in advance and always use the shopping list.
Most shopping trips are opportunities for discretionary purchases. The less times a person shops, the more time and money they save.
Allocate cooking day(s) and times. Decide to batch cook all meals on the weekend and portion out over the week. Some people may prefer to cook daily but prep all the ingredients in advance, cutting up vegetables and marinating meat, so they can get straight into cooking.
After learning some favourite recipes, try 1 or 2 new recipes each week. Get ideas from the family and get them involved in the process and this adds variety as well.
Our Health Coaches have put together a list of 10 meal pre-planning tips:
- Doing a roast? Why not cook two different pieces of meat? Try a whole chicken and a pork roast – this provides lots of extra cold meat for lunches throughout the week.
- Roasting vegetables for dinner – why not do a second tray and use these for lunches?
- Cook double for dinner and have leftovers for lunch – this is one of the easiest ways to get started.
- Baking a dozen protein muffins? It’s just as easy to do a double batch. Great for breakfast or lunch and can also be frozen. If the oven is on – think what else could be cooked.
- Slow cookers are life savers!!! Don’t have one? Buy one and use summer and winter. Great for soups, casseroles, soups, meats, virtually anything. A great investment in saving time and food bills.
- Salad boxes can be put together while dinner is cooking – mixed lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, nuts – just add left-over cold meat, tinned salmon, hard boiled eggs or the protein of choice.
- Get stuck sometimes? – buy a hot chicken to provide an instant meal and cold cuts for tomorrow.
- Place the weekly meal plan on the fridge, this way everyone knows what’s for dinner. Sick of others asking “What’s for dinner?” It also makes the cook accountable to do meal planning!!!!
- Have a commitment word – we like the word Focus. Write it on sticky notes and leave everywhere: on the fridge, the bathroom mirror, in your wallet, in the pantry cupboard, office desk – get the picture!!!
- Lay out your exercise clothes at night so they are ready for a morning, lunchtime or evening workout. Keep a set in the car. Simply No Excuses!!
Now it’s time to put some of these tips into action – pick the tip(s) that suit best.
Put simply – pre-planning will save you time, money AND stress. It will be an enormous help with losing weight – and then maintaining a new body and lifestyle forever. Enjoy!!!