..Doesn’t it seem like weekly meal planning is 10 times harder when you are eating healthier?
I want healthy meal planning to be quick and easy.
I have to be honest and tell you that I am not a fan of making a meal plan. Probably like you, I enjoy using them when they are finished, but I loathe making them. Thinking of healthy options that everyone would like and eat was hurting my brain.
But, I didn’t want to give up or give in. So I came up with a low-cost and straightforward process, and some shortcuts!
I think you will find this process adaptable to your family’s tastes and much faster and easier! There are lots of pictures so you can see how to make one for yourself. (I also added links to the products for your convenience. You can use anything you already have in your home too!).
Make Healthy Meal Planning Quick and Easy with a Notebook
The first thing to do to make healthy meal planning easier is keep everything together in an inexpensive 3-ring Notebook. I found some pretty ones in a 2-pack on Amazon for less than $4 each.
Then, thanks to a tip from one of my fabulous friends, I bought some clear sheet protectors. These are Amazon Basics Sheet protectors – not fancy but does the job beautifully. One of my annoying problems was that I kept losing my recipes. The protectors fix that problem for me.
I have a pretty extensive recipe book collection in addition to lots of paper and online recipes, and I kept forgetting where recipes were. Now, I make a copy of a recipe from one of my recipe cards or books or print an online recipe, so I have a copy at my fingertips.
Make Healthy Meal Planning Quick and Easy with a Template and Erasable Colored Pens
I created a menu planning template, made a copy (front and back), and I now have a clean form to use each week. Then I put several copies in a sheet protector and marked my original, so I have enough ready for the month.
(FYI-I will keep the ‘used’ ones to watch for trends or areas I can improve by substituting with healthier options or different planning.)
I also started using Erasable Colored Pens. These pens have been a life-saver and seriously reduced my frustration because now the ink doesn’t smear like a pencil, but I can quickly change anything which was a problem with our busy schedule.
Also, I use the colors as codes for myself. I circle food in red when it is running low in my pantry or frig. I will use pink for new recipes (which means I may not have the time to do it, so I put a * by my backup plan).
The most prominent reason why I like using the colored pens though is that I can identify an item that I decide should be replaced with a healthier option next time. I circle the food item with a green pen as a reminder to look for a substitute moving forward. I save the forms, so I see the green circle and can think about it while I watch for other food ideas or recipes to try.
Then, after I find a new food or recipe and test it with my family, I ask for feedback. If it is deemed as something they want to eat at least once a month I add the new healthier option to my list of favorites cheat sheet (see below).
Once a healthy choice is on the cheat sheet, it becomes easier to remember which healthy foods your family likes to eat.
It takes a few weeks, but you’ll start to find that you are making healthier menus. And, if you keep these old menus for a couple of months, you’ll begin to see how fast you can make progress when you use a meal planning template, favorite food lists, and colored pens.
Make Healthy Meal Planning Quick and Easy with a Cheat Sheet of Family Favorites
Here is one of my shortcuts. I made a list of my family’s favorite foods. Some are just foods, some are entrees, and some are names of recipes. I use this cheat sheet, so I have something to start the ball rolling. I can add new options to the menu too, but I find I’m way more creative and productive if I have a list to draw from in the beginning.
Make Healthy Meal Planning Quick and Easy by adding Snacks to Your Meal Plan
Another shortcut for me was to make a cheat sheet for snacks. This was always hard for me to come up with and we’d eat junk or nothing. As I see or think of more ideas for snacks, or as seasons and schedules change, I’ll add them to my cheat sheet!
This meal planning process has worked out to be a super awesome solution for me. I hope this works out awesome for you also.
In closing, meal planning is a wonderful way to eat healthier and save money at the grocery store. With this simple process and shortcuts, it makes the process quick and easy. So, then you can keep making better choices and healthy meals for your family.
Are you interested in eating healthier? Be sure to sign up for my free mini-course How to Start Eating Healthy in 5 Easy and Peaceful Days here.