Eating out or grabbing food away from home has become the norm. I often have clients requesting quick, easy, and convenient meals because of the lifestyle we had adopted. Recently there are even new websites that provide menus and information meant to simplify ordering take out (skipthedishes or justeat). While I feel there is a time and a place for eating out, and I myself eat out more that I did when I was growing up. I think we also need to rethink what we're doing at home and what we're ordering when we go out. If you realize that you're 'treating' yourself to french fries instead of side vegetables more often than not, then that is no longer a 'treat'.
In my home, meal planning means finding a few recipes, taking stock of what's in the kitchen, making a grocery list, and having an idea of that meals we'll have that week. I don't necessarily get set on which meal goes with which day because things come up, but I have given it forethought, so it's an easy decision when supper time rolls around. As with any new habit that you're trying to create (or old one that you're trying to break), it helps to think about it ahead of time, or spend a moment planning.
That way, when you come home from work exhausted, you already have the ingredients, perhaps your child(ren) or partner even started prepping the meal because you left the recipe out, and you don't have to look blankly at the full fridge feeling like there isn't any food in it. It's important to figure out what works for you, your household, and your lifestyle. A plan can help you stay within your food budget (you're buying what you need and using it = less waste) and make sure that meals offer nutritional value as well. It can serve as a way to create variety if you challenge yourself to one or two new recipes each week, and can also create lunch leftovers when you have planned extras.
Healthy Families BC has a meal planning tool and pantry planner to get you started. Whether you're planning for a busy week of work and activities, or creating your menu for a week at the lake. Plan for vegetables and fruit, plan for meals at home, and get rid of the excuses (healthy cooking takes too long, there's no food in the house, I don't know what to make, etc.)
Have an enjoyable week (knowing what's for supper!)
Steph Langdon, RD
something nutrishus counselling & coaching