Monday, September 14, 2015

Meal Planning Tips

With the start of fall comes the craving for routine and getting back to the basics. This fall my twins have started preschool and I have returned to work after an amazing maternity leave with baby Rhett. But let’s face it, even if you are a stay at home mom of twins and nothing is changing for you this fall, you are still SUPER BUSY keeping those two little ones alive, safe, and entertained. So new routines or not, this post is for you.
A strategy that I use to make sure my family stays on top of being healthy is to plan our weekly meals every Saturday and then do the groceries. I need to restock on a few things mid-week, but at least I know we are in a good starting position as we hit the ground running Monday morning. If you are interested in doing a bit more planning ahead this fall, here are some tips for you….  
1. Choose a day each week (I choose Saturday but it doesn’t have to be) to look at your calendar and the grocery store flyers.  Here are some questions to consider…
  • What nights are you home for meals?
  • Are there any nights that are really busy and you need to cook ahead and re-heat?
  • Are there nights that some of your family members are out of the house and need a “to-go” meal?
  • Are there any nights that a cold meal would be better than a hot meal?
  • Do you have anything in the freezer that should be used up?
  • What items are on special this week at the grocery store that you could incorporate into your meal planning?
When you feel ready, determine your meal plan and the groceries that you need for that plan for the week.

2. Do as much meal prep as possible when your children are sleeping and/or at school.  This will free you up during the “witching hour” when your kids want you and only you! Here are some strategies for nap time or night time…whichever is your free time.
  • Prepare fruit for everyone’s breakfast/lunch/snack/etc. Perhaps it is washing and slicing strawberries or grapes or cutting up a watermelon.
  • Cut up fresh veggies for quick and easy snacking as well as potatoes and vegetables that need to be cooked. Portion out any that will be packed into lunches such as baby carrots, cucumber, peppers, baby tomatoes, and snap peas.
  • Do whatever you can to make the next day easy. If you can, make everyone’s lunches at night too. You will make healthier and less rushed choices if you make lunches the night before rather than during the “time-pressured” morning.  Even if you and your children will be home this strategy works. Cut up veggies. Make wraps, sandwiches, salads, etc.
  • You may also want to cook things while your children are sleeping in the evening and reheat the next day. If you are a stay-at-home mom, then get things into the oven during nap time and/or while your kids are at school so that when they are up/home you can focus on them. This works well for lasagna and casseroles, as well as chicken, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and beets.

3. Keep your house stocked with healthy foods and leave the less healthy foods on the shelf at the grocery store.  The number one strategy for making healthy choices is to have only those choices in the house.  I am all for moderation and a fun treat but treats are only treats if they are not part of your everyday regime. Here are some healthy ideas to help you avoid chocolate at the 3 pm crash and 10 pm exhaustion craving…
  • Greek yogurt with any fruit. Some of my favourites are…
    • Keylime yogurt with watermelon and strawberries
    • Caramel yogurt with banana and apples
    • White chocolate yogurt with raspberries and blackberries
  • Big glass of cold chocolate milk
  • Homemade or Starbucks latte with non-fat milk
  • Homemade muffin
  • ½ cup of trail mix with roasted chickpeas, almonds, raisins, Chex cereal, and a few chocolate chips

Hope some of these tips are useful for you and your family. Wishing you all a safe, healthy, and happy kick off to fall 2015!


Find Noelle on Instagram: @mealsformeandmyminis

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