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This guest blog post is by Jim Thompson, CAE, IOM from Capitol Hill Management Services.
When you think of meal planning, the old saying really rings true here. “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” And that statement couldn’t be more true when it comes to making good choices with your food intake.
Usually when I make bad food choices for lunches or dinners, its because I had no plan. We’ve all been there. You have no idea what you are having for dinner. You find yourself hungry, and either wandering around the isles of the grocery store or rummaging through your pantry trying to decide what to make. If you are like me, it’s been a while since lunch and you are hungry and pretty much anything sounds good to eat at that point. That’s when you make some pretty bad choices. The same thing happens when it comes to lunch. Its after 1, you are hungry, and you didn’t have time to make lunch because you got out of your workout class late and had to take a shower. You’re starving at this point and you either run out to the grocery store to get whatever or make that dreaded decision to rely on Uber Eats to bring you your lunch. So, not only have you eaten something unhealthy for lunch, but you’ve also just spent $10.
The great part about meal planning is that it doesn’t take that long to do it and it can help you make better food choices and can save you money in the long run.
For me, Sunday afternoons are usually the time when I do my meal planning and prepping. For example, today I will go to my local grocery store and I will pick-up a two pounds of ground turkey, a bag of spinach, an onion and a few peppers (I love red). Additionally, I will get two boxes of wild rice and then I will make my way home. All for a total cost of about $13.
Once home, I sauté the onions and peppers and then add in the ground turkey. At this point, I get the wild rice started. Throw in your favorite spices (I like garlic salt, pepper, and some basil and thyme). When your ground meat is cooked, add in your spinach and let it cook down.
One of the most helpful purchases I made when it came to meal prepping were these containers off of Amazon. These are great because they stack easily in the cabinets when not in use. And when you are ready to prep, you fill them up and they stack well in the fridge, too. Additionally, because of their size, they help you with portion control and making sure you don’t overeat.
As far as recipes go, I try and stick to about 4-5 meals that I really enjoy and don’t mind eating 4-5 days in a row. The other key with meal planning and prepping, is planning out a menu for the week for dinners. With a busy household, this can be tough, but you just do the best you can do, knowing that some nights you may have to wing it and I always make more than I really need on some nights, knowing that the night or two afterwards might be leftover night. The meal prep containers work great for that, too. You can store all your leftovers in them and then you are ready for a busy night where one kids is off to youth group and the other off to soccer.