Meal Planning Basics

Some helpful tips on Meal Planning Basics from our friends at  Nutritious Navigation! 

There is no right or wrong way to meal plan but doing it yields many benefits!

  • It can be harder to eat healthier when you’re making quick food decisions
  • Portions are likely more controlled when you’re in charge
  • Money saved!  Those $12 lunches on a regular basis can add up

Let’s highlight some concepts…

Embrace leftovers

Time can be the biggest challenge when it comes to meal planning.  The task of cooking every night can be daunting but knowing there’s leftovers for lunch or dinner can take the burden off.

Simplicity Wins.  Stay within your comfort zone of ingredients and time available to cook.

Pick you day.  Maybe it’s #mealprepsunday  or another day.  Align your energy and time available and bunker down in that kitchen!

Batch Cook.  This involves dedicating a part of a day (4-5 hours) to cook a recipe with a high yield to eat ½ in the first part of the week and freeze ½ for later.  Here’s where a slow cooker could be helpful.

Write it down. Make a point to write down the recipe you’re making, what ingredients you need, and the day you’re making it.

Develop a top 5 recipes list.  Keep a record of your “go-to” recipes and take not of what worked or maybe why a recipe didn’t work.

Quick Meal Ideas

Quinoa Power Breakfast Jar

Mix ½ mashed banana (~1/4 cup),  1 Tb almond butter, and 1 tsp honey until smooth.  Add ½ cup unsweetened plain almond milk and whisk to combine.  Add ½ cup cooked quinoa and 2 Tb blueberries.  Pour mixture into 10-ounce glass jar and top with 2 Tb blueberries.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.  (Store up to 3 days).

Quesadillas – Layer half of a whole-wheat tortilla with black beans, cheese and salsa.  Fold tortilla in half and put on a baking sheet.  Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for about 10mins.

Italian Grilled Vegetable Chicken Salad (from todaysdietitian.com)

Serves 4

Ingredients
5 T extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper
1 lb chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 eggplant, sliced thin
2 zucchini, sliced thin on bias
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
2 slices of whole wheat pita bread, quartered

Directions
1. Combine oil, garlic, rosemary, and 1/4 tsp salt in liquid measuring cup. Combine chicken and half of oil mixture in bowl, and let marinate for 30 minutes. Toss vegetables with remaining oil mixture in separate bowl.

2. Stir-fry chicken and vegetables over a medium-hot fire until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are well-browned and tender, 8 to 12 minutes, flipping often.

3. Arrange chicken and vegetables on serving platter. Garnish with basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with warmed pita bread.

We just picked up a fellow dietitian’s new cookbook, “The Healthy Meal Prep CookBook,” by Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN.  We are loving her ideas and used a few of her thoughts and recipes to put together this piece.  As always, Nutritious Navigation is happy to talk to anyone about their health goals in more detail.  Check us out at www.nutritiousnavigation.com.