The first step in shopping for healthy foods is meal planning. Meal planning is the process of choosing meals ahead of time that you can then prepare (usually in advance) for you and/or your family.
While programs like e-meals are very popular, there are plenty of free resources for meal plans. My favorite place to get healthy, free meal plans is through Whole Foods. The Whole Foods meal plans provide recipes for each day a long with a plan for how and when to prepare them.
A good meal plan includes enough variety to keep you from becoming bored with your food, but also uses a few key ingredients in different recipes throughout the week to help save you money. With any meal plan, you will usually have a few meals that repeat, which means that you will have to cook enough food to have leftovers. If you are only cooking for yourself, this will usually mean making 1 recipe that serves 4. If you are cooking for a large family, you may need to double or triple the recipes in order to have enough to provide multiple meals.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to use an established meal plan, you can always create your own using recipes from sites like Allrecipes.com or Pinterest. Pinterest is a great website for meal planning because you organize your pinned recipes into different categories – by day, week, or meal type. Pinterest is also great for making meal planning a social event. Friends can share new recipes with you, and you can browse theirs and save the ones you like. You can even create a shared “board” and share recipes and meal plans as a group.
When creating your own meal plan, it’s important to remember this acronym: FREE. Choose recipes that are Fast, Repeating (ingredients overlap with other meals that week), Easy, and Excess (provide multiple servings for leftovers).
Lastly, since we are talking about healthy food shopping this week, it is important to choose recipes and meal plans that are healthy and nutritious. The Whole Foods meal plans are all healthy and provide both individual recipe and daily total calorie, fat, carbohydrates, and protein totals. We’ll cover these nutritional needs in another section. For now, use your best judgement when selecting healthy recipes and meal plans.
Comment Below: How much time do you have to devote to cooking each day? Each week? Would you rather take 20 minutes to cook something fresh each day, or would you prefer to spend a few hours cooking on one day and then not have to cook at all for the rest of the week?