Saturday, February 25, 2012

Meal Planning: How to Eat Healthy While on the Run

Written by Nicole, Contributing Writer

There are plenty of us out there that have so much going on throughout our days that it makes it hard to make dinner each evening.

Some work all day and some have kids with evening activities that make it difficult to make dinner.  Whatever the case may be, I understand.  I’ve been there!  It is so hard to try to plan meals when you aren’t home and should be fixing dinner!

This is why I suggest that every home own a crock pot!  Preferably one that you can set for a certain time and when that time is up it automatically goes on ‘warm’ mode.

Even if you have a crock pot, you still have the chore of ‘planning’.  I know lots of women talk about doing meal plans.  I’m telling you guys, meal plans are where it’s at!  If you don’t already do it, please start now.  I have been doing meal plans for a few years now and it has really taken the stress out of dinner.

If you don’t know how to do it, here’s a quick run down on meal planning: At the beginning of each week, before you go grocery shopping, make a list of what meals you will make for the week and figure out what you need to buy for each meal.  When you do this, there is no decision making during the week because you already know what you will be making each night.  It is definitely a good idea to have your calendar out when you make your meal plan so that you can plan crock pot meals for the days you won’t be home until right at dinner time.  That way dinner will be ready when you get home!

Here are some of my favorites to get you started:
  • Stir Fry on the Fly  - Make sure you cut up everything ahead of time.  Then when you get home, follow the directions…you will need about 30 minutes and then dinner is done!
  • Cuban Black Beans – 4-5 hours in the crock pot.  You can cook up the rice ahead of time and put it in the fridge and then just warm it up on the stove before you eat.  Have the kids take their baths while you warm up the rice and when they are done, dinner will be too!
  • 16 bean soup – (or 15 bean or whatever) – This is great for when you are gone ALL DAY, because it is meant to be cooked all day long.  When you get home, there is nothing to do and you can eat right away!
  • Baked Potato Soup – You will need about 30 minutes of prep before you can eat this when you get home, so this is another ‘get the kids a bath while you finish dinner’ kind of night.  It’s super yummy.  Serve with a simple salad and/or bread and you’re good to go.
Okay, there are 4 meals to get you going… now add 3 of your favorites for the rest of the week and you have one week planned already!

I cannot stress enough how important it is to plan your dinners ahead.  When you do this, I promise you will eat out less often AND you will have less stress.  It is so nice to not have to worry about what to fix for dinner because it was already decided days ago!

What do you think?  Do you already plan your meals at the beginning of the week?  Do you feel it takes the stress out of dinner?  If you don’t already meal plan, do you think you may start??  Please don’t hesitate to ask questions or give advice in the comments section below!


About Nicole

Nicole from Some Call it Natural is the real deal when it comes to living a natural, sustainable lifestyle.She homeschools her three children, cooks from scratch and does her best to do everything as naturally as possible when it comes to health and parenting.

She enjoys blogging about her family happenings, home school adventures, giveaways, and information on how to live more naturally.


Melissa K. Norris said...

You are so right, Nicole. Planning meals is crucial. It also helps knock money off the grocery bill.
I enjoy putting a pot roast in the crock pot. I put a packet of ranch dressing mix, italian dressing mix, and brown gravy on top, with a 1/2 cup water on cook on low 6 to 8 hours. It's the best. Plus, I can then make french dips the next night, so we get two meals from one.
I also started baking our own bread (and I work outside the home 4 days a week, plus write). I'm using the Bake Fresh Bread in less than 5 minutes a day. I have a tutorial on my blog w/ pics. And it's the best bread ever.
Thanks for your recipes. I need to get back on the meal and grocery planning kick.

Nicole @ Some Call It Natural said...

Yes, it definitely helps with the grocery bill too! You buy much less 'extra' stuff. :) I hope you enjoy these new recipes!

Nick Ashley Reagan Coen & Ike said...

Thanks for some great dinner ideas. I'm always so proud of myself when I actually plan it out, but unfortunately that only happens maybe one week a month. :)

Mama Chocolate said...

I love having a menu plan set up! I haven't really fully developed the habit of doing it every week, and I am always kicking myself every night when I don't have anything planned...again. :-P
I need to work on my crock pot repertoire.

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