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Plan to Eat Healthy, Watch Your Weight and Save Money

Healthy eating, menu, menu planning, reduce stress, eating out, weight, watch your weight, save money

Plan to Eat Healthy, Watch Your Weight and Save Money

Do you find life too busy to spend in the kitchen cooking? Do you feel just a little bit guilty about that? Life can get so busy your family hardly knows what it’s like to sit down to a relaxing home-cooked meal. A quick run through the drive-through becomes too common on busy days.

The good news is you can improve the quality of food they consume without spending all day in the kitchen! Plan a menu each week and look at these benefits:

· see at a glance what you’re eating and what you should be eating
· reduce your grocery bill and money spent eating out
· reduce the stress on your waistline

Healthy Eating and Menu planning? – “No way – Won’t work” or “What if I plan a menu and then don’t feel like eating what’s on it?” My challenge is that you try it for one month. It sounds like a control mechanism (which it is) and who wants that? But – it’s YOU at the controls and the benefits are too valuable to ignore.

Find one quiet hour during your week to sit down and plan your menu. Have your calendar handy. Make sure your hunger and thirst are comfortably satisfied.

Plan Healthy Take-Out Meals

Now check the family’s schedule for day 1 on your menu. If it happens to be soccer night then you don’t want to plan a big family dinner. You do want to plan something and you want it to be a grab and go meal. Use the days you are at home to prepare for the days you aren’t. It isn’t difficult to put some chicken into the oven or boil up some eggs while you’re watching the late show on TV. Cut up fresh vegetables and cheese to have ready. On soccer night when you have half an hour to get home and get the kids to their game you can quickly grab your own – healthy - take-out meal.

Planned Overs – Not Left Overs

You can also benefit from “Planned Overs”. This means you cook once and eat twice but without the feel of left overs. Planned overs would be more like – cook a basic tomato sauce and divide it into three. Put some in the freezer for next week. Spice up some for spaghetti for day one and put aside some for day two to fix up for taco salad or chili. If the grill is already on - take advantage and add some marinated boneless chicken breast. Once grilled and chilled it can be used the next day in a wrap or a green salad. Cook once and eat twice.

Once you have the menu finished you can quickly write up your shopping list – checking each day to make sure you have everything you need.

How does all this planning help you to eat healthy? You can see what you’re eating and what you’re missing. You can use a stress-free time to plan the menu reducing the temptation to opt for convenience foods or takeout. How often do you find that deciding what to cook is the hardest part? If the decisions are made when you are already tired, they won’t be the best. Take that stress out of your busy weekday and move it to a quieter time when you can take the time to make better choices.

How to Know You are Eating Healthy

For a healthy diet include a good variety. Avoid pre-packaged or convenience foods as much as possible – you know what’s in the foods you make yourself. Many of those pre-packaged convenience foods take just as much time and effort as making the same dish from scratch – only you can pronounce everything you put into it! As well, you control the fat, salt and sugar. Make sure you include foods from every food group into every day and try to use at least three food groups in every meal. You’ll stay full longer and be less likely to snack.

What about the excuse that you might not want to eat what’s on the menu? It’s hard to stop for a minute in the early morning to decide what you want to make for supper, but if you can see that tonight’s menu is already planned to be vegetarian chili with a baked potato and salad, then that’s exactly what your mouth will be expecting when suppertime comes. It actually does work. It’s like looking forward to Christmas turkey with all the trimmings – your mind knows what’s coming and soon your mouth can almost taste it. You’d be disappointed if you were looking for ward to turkey dinner all day and then found out the menu had changed to meatloaf instead.

You do want to build in some flexibility because life doesn’t always follow your calendar – nor do your want it to.

Save Money on Food Bill:

You create a shopping list based on what you know you will eat rather than buying boxes of things you might want. Go through your grocery cart and look at all the stuff you put in that you have no plans for. When your plans do materialize day-by-day, you probably end up back at the store to buy the things you do need.

The kids will leave that bag of nachos alone when they get home from school because they can see that nachos are planned into the menu and they don’t want to miss that meal!

You will have fewer days of eating out because you have neither time nor energy to cook – that’s better for your waist and your wallet!

Get the Family Involved

When you’re planning the menu you can plan family involvement. Kids (and partners) of all ages can enjoy preparing or helping to prepare a good meal. That doesn’t mean those are days to cop out and have hotdogs. Give kids a sense of accomplishment by letting them into the kitchen to help prepare meals that are interesting, nutritious and enjoyed by the whole family. You can count on lots of enthusiasm if you let them help choose the menu for that day. I only ever heard one excuse for getting supper started – they assumed I had something planned and they didn’t know what it was. Once I started posting menus, I also started getting more help in the kitchen.

Reduce Stress

Eating shouldn’t add to your stress or your guilt. Move the planning to a quiet time in your week when you can make better choices and then enjoy mealtimes!

Help your waistline, your wallet and your well-being:

· Plan your meals
· Plan for variety
· Plan to include all food groups
· Plan to avoid convenience foods
· Plan to have something ready ahead of time for your busier days
· Do the planning when you’re not stressed or rushed

Published: 2006-06-27
Author: Leanna Hoos

About the author or the publisher
Leanna is a freelance writer specializing is lifestyle writing. She retired from a career as a Registered Practical Nurse and now holds a BA in Mass Communication. She is the mother of three grown children. For more information check out

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