On day 104 of my 366-day self-care challenge, I explored how planning a menu impacts my eating habits.
I’m always on the lookout for ways to improve efficiency when it comes to recurring tasks like laundry, cleaning, running errands, cooking, and menu planning, but as much as I’ve learned to embrace these unavoidable chores, there are other things I’d rather be doing with my time.
That’s why I’ve refined my menu planning process to the point that it takes me about 2 hours each week, grocery shopping included.
The process starts with a 10- to 15-minute planning session, where I jot down meal ideas on my worksheet and then fill in the grocery list as I go. For evenings when I know we’ll be dining out, I simply mark the day with an “X” so I don’t buy more food than we need.
To generate meal ideas, I use several sources: magazines, Pinterest, websites, and my personal collection of recipes and cookbooks. To simplify things even more, I designate one day each week as “leftover” night, which often results in a giant salad with various (leftover) toppings. This helps reduce waste and it also saves time.
Some weeks I plan breakfast and lunch, but typically I focus on planning dinners. Breakfast is pretty easy, since I rotate through a few simple options during the week: eggs, cereal with fruit, peanut butter toast, or a smoothie. Lunches tend to be leftovers from dinner the night before.
However, you choose to approach healthy eating, careful planning on the front end makes grocery shopping a breeze, and it also increases the likelihood that you’ll eat well (rather than just thinking about the fact that you should).
How do you plan your menus?
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