Maintaining a healthy real food lifestyle can be a challenge on your first attempt. Some people start moving towards a real food lifestyle with every intention of following through for good but seem to struggle to maintain it. There are many things you can do to increase your chances of making it work such as family support, creating a plan, or working with a health counselor. Meal planning alone can be one thing that can make or break your experience. Working off a plan reduces stress, saves time, and makes things more manageable.
Planning Method that Works for You
How you do your planning is all up to you. There are many ways to go about it and it's important to find the way that works best for your lifestyle. Some, including myself, like to have a physical book and paper to work on. As much as I am a fan of technology and use it often, there is something about having a book with recipes that just works for me. My personal method includes a binder with dividers and recipes printed out from the internet, copied from cook books, or ones I have created myself. I like to make notes on the recipes that say how we liked it and if I thought it needed any modifications. Keeping them all together in one book makes it easier for me to plan each week.
If you prefer to do all your planning on the computer there are some nice websites that can help you do your planning online. Some of them have apps for your phone so that you can refer to your shopping list while you are at the store. If this type of thing appeals to you more then this option might work better for you. Whatever method that will make it more enjoyable for you is what you should chose.
How to Come up with Ideas
A challenge that I hear often is that it is tough to come up with ideas for what to make. As you meal plan more often this gets easier and easier. You will have a bigger database of recipes to chose from and you will know which ones your family likes. Initially, start with recipes you know. Make your plan using your already perfected recipes to make the process easy to start. As you go along start incorporating 1-2 new recipes per week.
To find new recipes it's a great idea to invest in a few new real food cook books or eBooks to get some new things to try. I am a big fan of eBooks from bloggers I follow because I know they have already tried the recipes themselves. A free way to get new ideas is to subscribe to recipes sites and blogs. Not all of the recipes will appeal to you but when you see something interesting, print it out and keep in in a folder of “recipes to try.”
Why this Works
Having a meal plan is takes a lot of stress out of meal time. Most moms will agree that the hardest time of day with little ones is 4pm-7pm and this also happens to be the time that we are preparing dinner. If you don't have a plan it is very stressful to look through what you have in the house, find a recipe, and try to throw something together. Dealing with this often is the reason why we turn to convenience foods – it's less to think about. During this time of day if you already have all your ingredients, a recipe, and a plan, things will go much more smoothly. When Moms are stressed, children feel it too and it changes the dynamic of the house.
A meal plan also saves time and money. You are less likely to buy take out or junk food if you have a specific grocery list to follow. When you have a plan to follow and a list to shop off, things don't go bad, and junk doesn't make it into the pantry.
A meal plan ensures more real cooked food on the table, less stress, less junk, more family time, and less time and money wasted. With all these benefits it's a no-brainer to implement this into your life.
If you are interested in learning my detailed meal planning method, look out for my new virtual meal planning workshop coming up soon. More details to come…