One of the first steps that you can take toward being healthier is cooking at home more often! My family eats at home five to six times per week together at the dinner table. It's a little easier for us to round up the whole family, since my two kids are still young, ages eight and four, but if you can make the effort, it's worth it. 

So how do you start cooking at home? The first step is creating a meal plan for the week. I only plan one week at a time so the food stays fresh, and it allows us days to finish up any leftovers we may have. 

Meal planning is one of my least and most favorite things to do. Sometimes it's hard to get those creative juices flowing to figure out what we're going to eat for the entire week, but at the same time, I love knowing exactly what foods are going into my family’s bodies when we eat at home. 

How exactly do I meal plan? Here is my routine and hopefully it’ll help one of my readers
  • Gather your blank shopping list, calendar, and extra paper.
  • On the calendar, write down any events coming up for the next week. If we have something going on that prevents us from being home, I write it on the calendar. That way I know not to plan anything for that day.
  • Ask the family if they have any suggestions for meals for the upcoming week. Getting them involved with the meal choices takes some of the stress of planning off of you, and it also gives them a sense of responsibility by offering suggestions. Plus you know that they will be looking forward to at least one meal you are making.
  • On a blank piece of paper, write down the days of the week that you need to make dinner for. On that paper, write down the suggestions that you have already received. I like to write down everything we are having with the meal. So if we are having spaghetti and meatballs, I’ll write that down along with any vegetables and rolls that will be included. This helps me keep track of the food I need to buy at the grocery store. Nothing is worse than going to the store, leaving with a cart full of groceries, then having to go back the next day to grab something else.
  • Once you have the suggestions written down, start filling in any additional days that you need meals for. I like to pull out recipe books, magazines, websites, etc. when I plan our meals. It helps keep our meals fresh by trying something new, and allows me to be creative with someone’s help.
  • I try to shoot for one protein, one fresh vegetable, and one whole grain per dinner.
  • Once you have all of your meals planned out, start with your shopping list. I start with the first meal I wrote down and work my way to the end so I don’t miss a meal or item. Don’t forget to check your fridge and cabinets for anything you may already have on hand. This will cut down on your grocery bill, so you aren’t buying multiples of an item you already have.
  • When you get home, freeze any meat that you may have purchased that won’t be used until the end of the week to ensure it doesn’t go bad.
  • On my shopping list, I will also go through and add any fruit I may need, breakfast and lunch items, along with any other groceries I may need.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com


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