Wellness Wednesday – Meal Planning 101

Happy Wednesday, y’all! I hope everyone is having a great week thus far! This week’s Wellness Wednesday focus is on how Meal Planning benefits us in multiple ways. I personally love to meal plan for a variety of reasons, some of which are below…

  1. Meal Planning is a great way to stretch your budget dollars. I typically check the Sunday newspaper to see what is on sale that week (I usually check specifically for meats since most of our meals include little processed food and for veggies we have a great local food stand about a mile or so down the road that we buy in season produce from). By knowing what is on sale, those are the types of meals I gravitate toward that week. I also see if there are some really good deals for stocking up to make some freezer meals.
  1. Meal Planning in addition to stretching your budget dollars can help shrink your waistline. Curious what I mean? Well, if you plan out your week and know what your caloric intake will be that week, you can also make sure you are either maintaining your weight or create a caloric deficit. I find it beneficial to plan not only dinners but breakfasts and lunches as well. For me, having my meals (for the most part) planned out helps keep me on healthier eating habits.

Curious how to meal plan? Well, I am by no means an expert, but I have found it helpful to do a couple things:

Be on the lookout for sales. Know your local grocery store. Oftentimes they will cycle their sales on a 6 or 8-week basis. Plan accordingly. I also like to stock up on items when they are discounted. During certain times of year you can get excellent specials and by doing this you can help stretch your budget farther (always important).

Sunday Paper! Full of useful coupons!

Sunday Paper! Full of useful coupons!

Write It Down. I cannot emphasize this enough. Write down your meals for the week and post somewhere that you can see daily. This gives you and everyone in your house time to get excited for each meal! I personally love my CarrieElle Meal Planner. I love that I can meal plan next to the page for my groceries. I always put our meal plan up on the fridge, so hubs can see which of his favorite meals we are having that week!

My Meal Planner!

My Meal Planner!

I also write it down in my fitness journal. This helps me ensure that I’m getting the right balance of calories and nutrition! You can use anything for this; I personally use a Plum Paper Designs Fitness Journal. I find that having something specifically dedicated to health works better for me, but everyone is different, so please do what works for you!  I also use my Fitbit app (AWESOME). Some people use an app; some people make a spreadsheet, etc. Do what works for you.

My Fitness Planner

My Fitness Planner

Have your recipes where they can be easily stored and found. If you are like me and Pinterest is perhaps too close of a friend (addicted???), I have a ton of recipes I have printed and I love to write notes on them as we make them and figure out how to make them “ours”. I use a notebook and put them in plastic sheet protectors. I sort them by type (Poultry, Beef, Pasta, Dessert, Appetizer, etc). I then scratch notes on them about when I made them, who it was for, what we thought, any changes, etc. This makes meal planning so much easier if you have your meals all in one place. Again, this is nothing against cookbooks, I use those as well, I just make sure that on the meal plan I’ve written down, I write which cookbook it is in and the page (trust me, on a weeknight when life is CRAZY, this step is a lifesaver).

One of my recipe notebooks! FYI - Plastic sheet protectors are lifesavers when cooking! Not that I know from experience!

One of my recipe notebooks! FYI – Plastic sheet protectors are lifesavers when cooking! Not that I know from experience!

There are just some nights that it is just too crazy to cook. Life happens folks, trust me, I know! Some days all you want to do is just pick up something or order in. Please don’t be afraid to “break the schedule”. Just remember to check the date on the meat (if there was meat in the meal) and put it in the freezer. Incorporate that meal into the next weeks plan, enjoy your dinner and move on.

Have fun with meal planning! I promise, planning can be fun! I have a group of girlfriends who also meal plan and we check in with each other, cheer each other on as we help stretch budgets, and there are weeks that maybe one of us is just crazy and we cannot plan for ourselves, and that is when we all pinch in and send each other our plans from that week. Remember, folks, if we all took just a little time to help other, this world would be a much better place!

Have fun planning! I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas! I’m always up to try new things!

JPF

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