Nutritionist and founder of Nordic Health & Wellness, Karin von Zelowitz, tells us how to meal plan once a week to make family life more enjoyable, less stressful and totally delicious! Here’s how she does it!
For more than 20 years now I’ve planned out my entire food for the week on Sunday evenings. Since I am a nutritionist and a confirmed foodie, most of my waking moments revolve around food. But a meal plan (and prepping) is something everyone can benefit from, no matter how agile you are in the kitchen!
Here are my top 10 reasons to organize your meal plan once a week:
- No stress. You know what you will be cooking so no last minutes stress and dilemma about what’s for dinner.
- Supports healthy eating habits. When you plan your meal in advance, chances are high that you will make healthier choices and avoid fast food and take out!
- Variety. You will probably enjoy more variety in your dishes since you plan your meals. No need to resort to pasta every night because you can’t figure out what to make with what you have!
- Time saver. Spending an hour or so on Sunday night (or whenever you decide to meal plan) is worth the investment! So much time saved by planning ahead!
- Save money. You save money by shopping after your list and eating more meals at home.
- Less food waste since you plan your meals and what to cook and buy only what is needed. This is a big one as you can often plan your meals around what you already have at home!
- Always prepared. Since you know what you will be cooking you can prepare some in advance and have a quick dinner one of the other days.
- Fewer trips to the grocery stores. Does anyone actually like to hang out at grocery stores more than is necessary?
- Shop more efficiently. And your trip or trips to the grocery store should be shorter as you are armed with a list and you already know what you are going to buy!
- Supports family meal times. This is hugely important! When you’ve taken the time to plan and cook a meal, serving it to your family at the dinner table and sharing a moment together is invaluable.
Here are my tips on weekly menu planning:
- Establish a weekly food ”routine” that will help you select your meals. For example: Meatless Mondays, soup on Thursdays, Italian on Tuesdays, Kids’ Choice on Fridays, Leftovers on Sunday, etc.
- If you have particularly crazy evenings because of activities or other commitments, then choose an easy meal that night every week. For us it’s Thursdays! So I make a soup during the day, then at dinner I serve it with fresh bread, cheese and cold cuts.
- Once you’ve decided on a meal routine, get ideas for your meals! Pull out your recipe books, ask your family for their favorites or ideas, go on social media and get inspired (Pinterest is particularly great for ideas and recipes).
- While getting ideas, take stock of what you already have and include them into your meal planning! Less waste of food and less money spent at the grocery store!
- Write down your menu ideas, then get started on your shopping list. Have it totally ready for your weekday shop so you don’t have to waste time going back to the supermarket for forgotten items!
- For side dishes, I rotate the type of starches I choose for each meal with whatever I have available (pasta, rice, potatoes, couscous, other grains). I try to use seasonal vegetables every day, otherwise I have a stock of frozen vegetables which are also a cinch to prepare.
- Keep your weekly meal plans on your computer or in a notebook. If you set up a few weekly meal plans, you can then rotate them so you don’t reinvent the wheel every week. You can even rate them and look back to see what your family liked more or less.
It might take some time and organization at first to get into this kind of routine, and sometimes it might seem like you spend a lot of time on Sunday nights meal planning. But once you get into it, you will realize not only how much time you save, but how much stress is released from your day-to-day life! I promise you, once you get going, meal planning will eventually become a habit you will not regret!
Karin von Zelowitz is a certified dietician and nutritionist. A resident of New Jersey where she now lives with her two children and husband, Karin is originally from Sweden. Prior to becoming a nutritionist, she was the personal chef to the Swedish Ambassador to Switzerland for six years. Visit her site on www.nordichealthandwellness.com.