Even if you’ve got the best intentions when it comes to healthy eating, life always seems to find a way to throw obstacles in front of you. Whether you’re working late or don’t have enough time to get to the grocery store, don’t punish yourself by gorging on whatever happens to be in front of you. Instead, plan your week ahead of time. Not only will you step into the work week knowing what you’re eating, you’ll have one less thing to worry about on those busy days.
Five tips for simple, weekday meal planning:
1. Always create a list before going grocery shopping. Plan out what you want to eat during the week. Get some key ingredients for recipes that you want to make, this way you’ll save time because you won’t be floating aimlessly around the aisles. Also, do your grocery shopping on the weekend so you can prepare your meals on Sunday night before the weekly craze starts.
Organize your list and make categories like fridge, pantry, vegetables, fruit, grains and nuts as the main categories. The other option is to bring recipes with you and get those specific ingredients, crossing the ingredients off the recipes as you go. This helps to prevent you from wasting extra produce.
2. Make at least two main dishes (I suggest quinoa or brown rice pasta) along with one or two batches of vegetable soup, small salads or dips, and store them in your fridge. That way, when you’re rushing out the door, your ready-made food can be scooped up and taken with you. Try to choose things you don’t mind eating a couple of times a week, even if combined with different side dishes.
If, for example, you make quinoa one night you can have it with soup (our hearty quinoa and bean soup pictured above is a great option) one night, another night with steamed vegetables and later in the week blended into a veggie burger.
3. Store your food in glass containers and keep them in your fridge or freezer (ensure the containers you’re using are OK to put in the freezer). Compartmentalizing (don’t let that word scare you) is a perfect method for portion control and keeping your meals fresh. Also, get equipped with a cooler or cold pack to take food on the go. This will eliminate any excuses if your workspace doesn’t have a fridge!
4. Have a variety of snacks to take with you. Homemade trail mix, nut and seed bars, cut-up veggies and bean dip are all great options. With snacks as your sidekick, you won’t be hungry in between meals, nor will you have to rely on junk to get you through the day.
5. Meal Planning 101: Here are some more meal planning ideas to get you going for the week. All of these can be packed and taken on the go.
– Breakfast options: Sprouted toast with nut butter, oatmeal, homemade muffin, fruit smoothie or green juice.
– Lunch and dinner options: A wrap with hummus and veggies, homemade vegetable soup, whole grain pasta with pesto and veggies, cooked quinoa with raw veggies and salad, vegetable stir fry with brown rice or noodles.
When it comes to breakfast you can forgo the white flour and sugar with this yummy (and quick) muffin recipe:
Blueberry banana mini muffins
1 1/2 cups organic spelt flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp sea salt
2-3 ripe bananas (depending on their size)
½ cup rice milk
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
¼ cup maple syrup
1/3 cup applesauce plus 1 tbsp ground flax (equivalent to 1 vegan egg)
1 cup blueberries
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Add the spelt flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and sea salt to large bowl and combine.
3. In a separate bowl or blender mix the banana, rice milk, coconut oil, maple syrup and applesauce/flax mixture.
4. Now combine the wet ingredients into dry and fold slowly, and mix together until there are no lumps. Stir in blueberries.
5. Drop by spoonfuls into a mini muffin tray.
6. Bake for 12 minutes.
You can grab more ideas on quick, homemade meals and energy boosters in Weekday Meal Planning. It includes a five-day meal plan, grocery lists, recipes, and lots of other resources that make eating healthy (and finding information) easy.
Marni Wasserman is a culinary nutritionist in Toronto whose philosophy is stemmed around whole foods. She is dedicated to providing balanced lifestyle choices through natural foods. Using passion and experience, she strives to educate individuals on how everyday eating can be simple and delicious.