Fact of the matter is, following a meal plan will keep you healthier, on budget, and reduce stress around food prep because you’ll be organized and preventative - rather than reactive - around what and how you and your family eat.
Too bad hardly any of us do it - properly, that is.
Effective meal planning takes a bit of upfront time and investment to start - those that master this act get to brag about it on Instagram with tags like #mealprep #cleaneating. Meanwhile, the rest of us are left to internalize a sense of intimidation and guilt because clearly we aren’t managing this aspect of our lives - and our health - adequately enough.
Kristine Peacock is a Culinary Nutrition Expert, Teacher and Mom of 3 - she’s also a master at creating nutritious meal plans for herself and her clients to set up for healthy successes. Throughout her work in nutritional consulting and teaching, she’s been able to pinpoint what works and what doesn’t when it comes to finding balance and enjoyment out of incorporating meal planning into everyday life!
"I get it, I really do! A healthy lifestyle does take a little planning and preparation to run smoothly, but it isn't a burden or sentence! A well stocked pantry, grab and go fruits and vegetables and pre-washed containers of spinach go a long way to minimizing time and prolonging health!
I love using Daily Themes to plan my cooking for the week and my family has come to predict our meals (even if I don't always write it down)!! Our themes are Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Pick-a-Protein Wednesday, Casserole or Stir-Fry Thursday, Fish on Fridays, Surprise Saturdays, and Roast (in the Winter) or BBQ (in the Summer) on Sundays!"
For those of you who want a bit more detail when it comes to setting up the logistics, Kristine has a proven 5-step game plan for you to follow:
STEP 1: Categorize your Family's Favourite Meals
Family Favourites: Tacos, Pasta, Pizza, Burgers… Cultural Cuisines: Asian, Mexican, Italian… Methods of Cooking: Casserole, StirFry, Slow Cooker, BBQ, Soup, Salad, Sandwich… Design your Meal around the Main Protein: Chicken, Fish, Steak, Vegetarian, Eggs… Dietary Theme: Paleo, Raw, Vegan, Detox…
STEP 2: Consider your Weekly Schedule
Work, school, sports, hobbies, meetings, appointments, seasons and extra-curricular's all impact your weekly schedule. Embrace these commitments when meal planning to take the stress off your plate (pun intended!). For example, if you know you have a meeting on the first Monday of every month, or swimming lessons for your child on Wednesdays, then account for these obligations by meal prepping the night before or choose a quick and easy meal idea and save the “fussier” recipes for other days.
STEP 3: Grab your Favourite Cookbooks, Food Blogs and Pinterest Sites
For those of you on Meal Garden, it’s got a great database of recipes and is very user-friendly when it comes to search. For instance, you can search by time (e.g. filter by meals ready in 30 minutes or less), by ingredient (perhaps if you’d like to use something up that’s already in your fridge/pantry), and even by health rating if you want to get inspired - by only the most nutritious of meals! Of course, if you’re a fan of certain food bloggers you can always import your recipes into Meal Garden that way (by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org), or create your own recipe - which is something I’ve been experimenting with for my weekly recipe development.
STEP 4: Write your Grocery List or use a Grocery App
The natural next step after deciding on a menu for the week is to write a grocery list. Consider recipe ingredients, items you already have in the refrigerator and pantry, snacks, side dishes and accompaniments. A grocery list will save you time at the store, it will save you money as well as temptation! Whether you record your list on a grocery app, use a template or write it on the back of scrap paper, a grocery list is essential for Weekly Meal Planning. Luckily, if you’re a Meal Garden user, this entire step is done 100% for you. Once your meal plan is made in your schedule, your organized grocery list will appear below. I like to pull it open on my phone when I’m at the store, but you can also print it out beforehand.
STEP 5: Record your Meal Ideas, Recipes & Daily Themes
My family meal plan with daily themes changes week-to-week, but it’s outline is pretty consistent. Switching it up from week to week while still following a single template can keep things fun without getting too overwhelming. If you’re on Meal Garden, you can simply “copy” your week’s worth of meals to the following week, and then make all your adjustments from there. For instance, Meatless Monday might mean bean burgers one week, but then replacing that recipe with a quinoa and tempeh casserole for the next.
There you have it - a simple yet effective way to commit yourself to staying organized and eating healthy...all without the added anxiety!
With nearly 10 years of teaching experience as an elementary school educator, Kristine is passionate about Health, Nutrition and Fitness. She’s committed to inspiring healthy living with simple, scratch cooking, using whole foods, to promote optimal health through nutrition for the entire family! Meals that Matter offers a variety of Online Nutrition programs, Live Workshops & Cooking Classes, and 1:1 Nutrition Consulting.
Meal Garden is excited to announce that Kristine will be an active participant and mentor for our next upcoming Healthy Eating Bootcamp. We’re excited for the enthusiasm and valuable nutritional and culinary expertise she’s always ready to bring to the table. Hope you can join us!
To help get you pumped for this event, feel free to check out some of Kristine's recipes in already uploaded in Meal Garden with full nutritional analysis - ready for you to get meal planning with: