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Here are eight tips for creating a perfect meal plan
1. Pick your favourites
The entire family unit should be encouraged to sit down and participate in a healthy and delicious meal-planning meeting. Ask your children what their favourite foods and meals are - tacos? barbecue chicken? avocado sushi? - and try to build healthy choices around everyone's likes and dislikes. Make mealtime as fun and inclusive as possible to make it a special and healthy time for you and your family.
2. Make a healthy grocery list
Once you have decided on your foods and meals for the week, write out all the ingredients you will need for your one "super" shop. One big shopping trip will help prevent several trips back to the grocery store throughout the week, and save you money. Having your grocery list right beside your planned meals will help keep you organized and on track for the week. Make an extra copy of this chart and stick it on the fridge or somewhere in the kitchen where everyone can see. A family food chart also keeps interest high around mealtimes.
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3. Keep some staples on hand at all times
There will be times where you are so rushed that all dinner plans fall by the wayside. When this happens, you can always turn to some food basics that are ideal to have on hand. Here are a few fave picks:
• Whole grain pasta
• Whole grain bread and cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches
• Veggie, salmon or turkey burgers in the freezer
• Whole grain pizza crusts
• Cans of tuna for tuna wraps or sandwiches
4. Plan the approximate time you will be eating each meal
This will ensure the whole family will be around for dinner, promoting a healthy environment where everyone participates in the preparation of the meal and sits down together to enjoy it.
5. Have ingredients prepared in advance to help make the dinner-making process go smoothly. You can cut up fruits and veggies, and measure out parts of the recipe in advance to reduce the prep time when you make your meal.
6. Try one new recipe each week to keep your meals fun and exciting.
7. If you tend to have a lot of leftovers from your dinners, make one meal a "leftovers dinner." Or, you can package up leftovers and take them to work for a healthy lunch.
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Dr. Joey Shulman is a bestselling author and the founder of The Shulman Weight Loss Clinics. For more information, visit drjoey.com.