Meal Planning 101

standard October 20, 2017 Leave a response

Loved last week’s post but still stuck on where to even begin? Overwhelmed by ALL the resources out there that can help you plan, prep, shop, and cook?

Whether you are brand new to meal planning or you regularly try to keep a plan for each week, here are a few ways to make the process easy and even fun.

1. Be smart.

Start with these 4 Tips for Better Meal Planning 

Also check out this post on how to meal prep in 30 minutes or less.

2. Share ideas.

Check out these sites for inspiration, and share what works for you with your friends and family! (Also, don’t forget we have awesome weekly menus right here on Neat & Nutritious!)

3. Make freezer meals.

Instead of meal planning for just the week, think ahead to the whole month. Make an extra batch of something and freeze it for a later week. Prep bags of crock pot recipe ingredients for easy pour, heat, and go. Make baggies of smoothie ingredients and keep in the freezer for quick breakfasts.

Here are some freezing tips plus recipes. And here are some ways to make batch cooking freezer meals easier.

Check out these posts for some great recipe ideas to get you started:

4. Use an App.

These smart phone apps make the process a little easier:

5. Subscribe to a service.

In a bind? Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and Green Chef all do the work for you (a pro/con comparison post of these services is coming soon!)

I have tried both Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, and as a dietitian, LOVE Hello Fresh’s meals. You can check out my review here and click here to get $40 off your first box when you sign up! (This is an affiliate link. Thank you for supporting businesses that support Neat & Nutritious!)

 

Easy Fall Recipes for Busy Weeknights

standard October 16, 2017 Leave a response

The weather is finally started to cool down and hint at Fall here in Texas. And since by the time it finally feels cool enough for cozy dinners, we’ll already be in the middle of December, I’ve decided to hurry things up with some comforting Autumn classics this week. All of these recipes feature seasonal ingredients, take 30 minutes or less to (actively) make, and are sure to please kids and parents alike. Win-win-win!

Recipes

  1. Fall Forest Salad  from Full of Plants // A hearty grain salad that is sure to fill up everyone’s belly.
  2. Slow Cooker White Quinoa Chili from Simply Quinoa // Creamy, cozy goodness.
  3. Fall Harvest Salad // For those nights when it’s not quite cold yet, but you want something hearty. Roasted vegetables over soft, massaged kale.
  4. Vegan Pumpkin Spice Pancakes from Minimalist Baker// Because breakfast for dinner is always a good idea! Plus, pumpkin means vegetables are consumed. 🙂
  5. Sheet Pan Winter Buddha Bowls from Yummy Mummy Kitchen // As easy as roast, assemble, and go!
  6. Farro, Mushroom, Cranberry, and Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash from Running in a Skirt // Quintessential fall dinner perfection.
  7. Pumpkin Alfredo // For the nights you just want a bowl of comforting pasta.
  8. Vegan Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells from Love & Lemons // Fresh and hearty at the same time.

Have a delicious, Autumn-filled week!

 

4 Tips for Better Meal Planning

standard October 13, 2017 Leave a response

Starting our journey into Baby Led Weaning has meant I’ve started to get serious about meal planning again, instead of just loosely planning out days of freezer and Hello Fresh meals. And to remind myself that it does not have to be a big weekly chore, I’m revisiting my own tips to make it easy.

Most of us like the idea of meal planning but the execution is just too daunting most weeks. After a long week of work and appointments and activities, the weekend is for house chores, more activities, and hopefully some relaxation. Not sitting down with a grocery list or trekking to the store to fight checkout lines with everyone else in town. So how can you still have a week’s worth of healthy meals for you and your family ready without sacrificing a lot of effort or precious weekend time?

1. Start simple.

You don’t have to make something different for every meal every day of the week. Start with one breakfast, one lunch, and three dinners. That gives you five meals to rotate on different days. And of course, some days you want dinner leftovers for lunch. Or breakfast for dinner. Just double up the recipe if you need to ensure you have enough.

You also don’t need to make fancy meals. Peanut butter and jelly works. So does incorporating pre-made items or convenience foods. For instance, a boxed soup that you can jazz up with a few extra veggies, rice, or a protein. Thin with a little water to balance the sodium and make it last even longer.

2. Don’t wait until the weekend.

Schedule a weeknight that is not otherwise taken with activities, sit down with a cup of tea, and make meal planning an enjoyable evening activity. Or keep a running list of ideas for next week up on the fridge. Maybe make it a communal activity, where everyone has to add something (and then help make it when the time comes!).

Also, try grocery shopping during the week. Or go in the early morning on the weekend before the stores get crowded if weekdays just don’t work for you. Having a standard grocery night that you either tackle alone or with the whole family to help out (whatever works best for you!) can make sure the weekends stay relaxing and stress free.

3. Rotate favorites.

When you find a recipe you love, especially one that may also be quick and easy to prepare, write it down. Keep a list of go-to recipes on hand, and make sure to rotate one or two in to each week. That way you there is one less new recipe to try out, and there is something to look forward to, particularly on an extra crazy night or week.

4. Prep is your best friend.

You may not want to spend time washing, chopping, and prepping everything all at once, especially after the planning and shopping. But if you take the time to at least wash and chop veggies, marinate proteins, or batch cook starches, it will make each day’s prep that much easier. And the fridge will look a little neater, so win win!

Any other tips for making meal plan easier? What are your biggest challenges when meal planning each week?