#WinbyLosing: Planning family meals made easy

 

The Win by Losing competition continues on and with that, your questions about health and fitness continue to come in.  While we cannot answer your personal health questions in a blog post, we do get questions we know resonate with many of the contest participants and will use those as ideas for future posts as space allows.  If you are a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan subscriber, be sure to take advantage of our Health Coach Hotline for help with specific questions about your weight loss.

The mid-point for Win by Losing is fast approaching and I thought it would be good information to share how to plan healthy meals for the family. Not only will this keep you on track for your weight loss goals, but it is also a great way to get your family supporting you, while learning to live healthier too.

1. Be Real

This means a couple of things; you want to be realistic about your schedule that week and decipher how much time you will have to prepare meals. Maybe the family has a lot of evening events this week and everyone is going to fend for themselves, then that means less for you to do. Also you have to be aware of what foods you already have on hand in your refrigerator and pantry. Here are a few websites that help you use all the food in your kitchen. These sites allow you to identify what foods you have on hand and then they give you recipes that you can prepare with those foods; Super Cook,  My Fridge Food or Recipe Matcher. These definitely have helped me when I was in a time crunch or didn’t get to go to the grocery store.

2. Stay Organized

Meal planning is a term that automatically is associated with being a pain in the neck. However, with meal planning you actually save time and are more likely to stay on track with healthier food options. I know it doesn’t seem like you save time, but I swear you do. Give it a good month and then you won’t know what you did before. Looking at your weekly schedule also allows you to focus to see if you have any parties or events coming up. Going out usually means an increase in food consumption, now with that knowledge you can plan other meals to account for that birthday party on Saturday.

3. Write it down

Next thing you will want to do is write down the menu for the week. Figure out what you will create for each day and each meal. Maybe even display it for the family to see. This may be as simple as oatmeal for breakfast, but by writing it down, it will help your build your grocery list. Write down the grocery list and this will also help you to stay on track and not impulse buy “junk” foods.  A few things to think about during meal planning, is how much time you will need to prep the food you are cooking, think about the potential for using the slow cooker on a busier day and think about batching some recipes to freeze for the future.

Other tips and tricks

Here are a few other ideas to help with meal planning:

  • Stay consistent.  Write your meal plan and grocery shop on the same day every week as much as possible. Make it a routine.
  • Do your food prep as much as possible on the weekend to save time.
  • Make it a family affair.  For example split the grocery list so each person in the family goes to one section of the grocery store and have them help with meal planning or food prep. Maybe every Thursday is the night that the kids choose the meal or even prepare it.

What do you and your family do to make meal planning easy?

Photo credit: paige_eliz

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