Meal Planning 101!

Meal Planning is Fun for the Whole Family!

The New Year is the perfect time to create new habits!  If making sure that you and your family eat healthy tops your resolution list, learning how-to meal plan is a must to succeed!  I plan the nutritious meals for 50+ kids, ages 3-12, each week for the classes at HealthBarn USA, and I can tell you that it would be a disaster if I didn’t meal plan.  How do I do it?   I’m excited to share this helpful list of tips to get you started.  Planning ahead with the whole family’s involvement is the best way to make everyone happy and healthy!

Here are some meal planning tips:

  • Start your go-to recipe file that includes simple meals with lots of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy or dairy alternatives. And, of course, keep my Appetite for Life book close by
  • Do a power shop the first of every month to make sure that all-natural food staples for recipes and snacks are in the kitchen, so you won’t go sideways with the artificial stuff.
  • Consult your regional seasonal produce list during the week with your child and select a new fruit or vegetable and match it with the featured recipe of the week.
  • Sit down during a quiet time over the weekend with a cup of tea and creatively fill-in the meal plan chart to insert recipes and help to make a shopping list for the upcoming week of fresh ingredients.
  • Look to make leftovers the next day’s lunch (e.g. roasted chicken, to make chicken salad).
  • Try to plan for fish at least once a week.
  • Aim to have the whole family eat the same meal with whole food, not “kid food.”
  • Prioritize which organics to buy by using the Dirty Dozen list

    Plan trips to the market for the fresh stuff 2-3 times a week; shop at fun places with good choices that are on the way to other activities you are doing throughout the week.

  • Shop on off times, when it’s not too busy.
  • Make the meal-of-the-week a family activity that can be eaten several times (e.g. Cheesy Lasagna Rolls (freeze extras, too), chili, soup, etc.).
  • Enjoy the structure… but always be creative!
  • Always make meal-time family time.

I hope you will use the HealthBarn USA meal plan chart (link above) because I modified it for home use.  Also, please note that fresh fruit qualifies as a daily dessert!  Good luck and please email me at [email protected] with any comments or questions.

Do you meal plan?  Share your tips for your success or how you have overcome challenges.

– Stacey Antine, MS, RD, author, Appetite for Life, founder, HealthBarn USA, director, HealthBarn Foundation, and recognized as top 10 dietitians nationally by Today’s Dietitian magazine for her work with HealthBarn USA.

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