you are what you eat

Menu Planning and Shopping for Healthier Eating

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Planning a Nutritious Day

The first step to planning a nutritious day is setting out an enticing and healthy menu. Plan a menu for the week ahead so that you can shop in advance. This really cool menu and shopping list planner is available on http://www.designfinch.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/menu-planner_vt_03_13.pdf. It has each day highlighted in a different colour and lets you add items to your shopping list alongside it.

This is my menu for the week ahead. I usually shop on a Tuesday or Wednesday and tomorrow i will not be doing a lot of my basic shopping like yoghurt, bread, cheese etc as i still have enough of those available. I also try not to buy too much in bulk so as not to waste money in spoiled food items. I have not included lunches as we are all not together at lunch time. Lunch for us is something light like a sandwich or leftovers. Lunch items like tuna, sandwich spreads etc can also be added.

With menu planning you know what your meals will look like and what you need to buy. That makes grocery shopping more efficient and cuts down on unplanned trips to buy one or two items. And with a grocery list in hand — a byproduct of good menu planning — it’s easier to resist impulse purchases. Your shopping strategies should focus on fresh and unprocessed foods. That means spending more time in the produce section, where you can stock up on fruits and vegetables, and avoid lingering in the sweet and snack isle. Keep an eye out too for whole grains and low-fat dairy products

 Menu-planning basics

Menu planning doesn’t have to be complicated. To get started, jot down some of your favorite meals and favorite meals in your household.

Include side dishes as well as entrees and some healthy desserts, too. When you have your menu plan filled in, create a shopping list of the ingredients you’ll need.

Some things to consider as you contemplate menu options:

            Duplicate ingredients. Plan a menu that has ingredients which can be used in 2 or more dishes. (As you can see, I do not specify vegetables as a lot of them I                                   use over and over in different meals in different forms)

            Clear your pantry. That can of beans in the back of the cabinet could be the starting point for any number of healthy meals.

            Think seasonal. What fresh produce is available this time of year? Is it salad season or soup weather? I hardly ever include fruit on my menu as I like to buy whats in season and sometimes what is on ‘special’. Towards the end of the summer season mangoes and peaches are cheap but are not always of a very good quality. I will judge the produce when I see it and buy accordingly. If you feel you will forget, include these items on your shopping list, and decide in the fresh produce isle if its good enough to take home or not!

            Mix things up. Keep the menu interesting by planning some meatless meals or substituting a breakfast for a dinner. Alternate new recipes and old favourites. Eggs make a fabulous, quick supper. See Wednesday, I’ve got lamb steaks, a salad (mushrooms on a rosemary stalk), grilled marrows and sweetcorn as my starch. I can picture my plate as I plan, and already I am so excited to get started! Remember to make half your plate vegetables.

            Picture the plate. As you plan each meal, keep in mind that vegetables and fruits should cover half your plate, lean protein should cover a quarter, and the rest of your plate should be grains, preferably whole grains.

Get into the menu-planning routine

Like any new habit, menu planning gets easier with practice. Over time, you’ll figure out ways to make the process work for you. Some tips to get you going:

            Give each day a theme. Don’t start from scratch every week. Establish theme days. For example, designate Mondays as lentil nights, Tuesdays as chicken night.

            Recycle your menus. Don’t throw away your menu plan at the end of the week. Instead, hold on to it and reuse it later.

            Be flexible. Your menu isn’t written in stone. Feel free to swap things around. Or designate one night as “cook’s choice” and use that night to clear out the refrigerator by making a casserole, stir-fry or other mix-and-match meal. I often keep my eye open for items that are discounted, for example Norwegian salmon in Woolworths, john west tuna at checkers.

Bask in the glory

Take a moment to feel good knowing that menu planning is making it easier for you to follow a healthy diet. And give yourself an extra pat on the back for saving money while you’re at it!

Research has shown that the longer the time between meals the poorer the food choice. Think back and is this u? Do you not eat all day then at 4pm find yourself ravenous and reaching for a packet of chips and coke?

Part of a nutritious day is including nutritious snacks. A snack can range from a cracker with a topping to fruit, dried fruit, mini breakfast bars, nut, yoghurt, or popcorn. Choose snacks that are naturally low in fat and have no added salt.

Lunch boxes or cooler bags can be packed the night before to avoid the early morning rush.

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This entry was posted on March 25, 2014 by in Healthy Weight Tips and tagged , , , , .
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