Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Two - for - One!

Today, I thought that I would combine a post about being healthy with a post about meal planning b/c they really do go hand in hand. I started meal planning probably about 2 years ago. I was frustrated with going to the grocery store, buying lots of random stuff only to find out when I got home that I was missing all sorts of ingredients to make a good meal. Plus I was spending WAY to much at the store!

I came up with a quick word document where I could think through what we would be eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I always do two weeks at a time. (** I was trying to link to my document but I haven't been able to figure out how yet!)

First, I list any activities that we have going on in the week so that I am able to plan accordingly. Next, I add in meals that maybe I had already bought ingredients for but never made. Then, I start filling in the blanks with meal ideas.

I will usually look through the grocery store ads/ coupons to see what I can get on sale as I decide what to plan for. I also try and balance out our meats. For instance, I try not to plan three meals in a row w/ red meat, reasons varying from cost to trying to find something a little healthier. I also try and plan at least one meal a week that doesn't have any meat in it. This can really cut down on your grocery bill! Good alternatives are Mexican dishes w/ beans instead of beef or veggie pasta dishes.

Also, when I go shopping I try and specifically plan for breakfasts, lunches and even snacks. When I neglect to do this we are far more tempted to go out, which costs more and can once again not always be the healthiest.

For breakfasts I try and always have: bread, eggs, oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, fruit...

And now I can't lie.. I like to have a can or two of biscuits in the fridge. I love them! I also always have a big box of Bisquick at hand for pancakes/waffles.

For snacks: once again yogurt, fruit, carrots or other veggies, trail mix, lunch meat, tortillas are good to have to whip up a variety of snacks- quick cheese quesadilla or warmed up w/ peanut butter, and once again.. I can't lie.. I'm a sucker for chips and salsa!

Finally, before I completely settle on a menu I go through and do a rough estimate of what each meal will cost. I make sure that these meals together will keep us within our budget. I always try to be under seeing as how things can sometimes end up costing more than I had thought.

I also check to see that the meals don't all consist of rich, hearty foods. Now, I in no means have gone and cut out all of our favorite casserole dishes. I just try and make sure that my menu is balanced out and try and find new healthier spins on some of our favorite meals.

In the beginning this use to take me quite some time to plan everything out.. but now it doesn't take me long at all. I guess its like anything, practice does help!

Next week I'll post on how I organize my grocery lists/coupons!

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