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Healthy Eating Made Easy: Meal Planning Tips

This time of year a lot of families are focused on fresh and healthy eating. We all see and hear of the Whole30 and sugar detoxes, which help us refocus our eating habits to more wholesome and fresh foods. But the real question is, how can one save time in the kitchen when making all this fresh food? The answers and more are inside these meal planning tips.

If you are already doing one of these programs, keep up the great work! If you tried to but got worn out in the kitchen after week 3 because you found yourself making multiple meals for your family, check out the Family Kickstart Program. The recipes are kid approved, they cut out gluten, grains, dairy, processed foods, and sugar, and the program comes complete with shopping lists, meal prep tips, meal plans, and all the recipes needed.

meal planner

No matter program you are on, or you are just trying to eat healthier, we can all agree that one major challenge is getting all the fresh foods prepared so you can make the meals you planned.

Today, I want to share with you some of my meal prep tips that I use to feed my family of 5 fresh foods every day!

I like to start by mapping out the meals I plan to make for the week, yes this means breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Don’t be overwhelmed, just keep it as simple as possible, and choose recipes that you know your family will love.

Thankfully most programs come with the recipes, but every now you might need to swap a recipe. My go-to resources are grain-free cookbooks. In particular, my Grain Free Cookbook, which is filled with family-friendly meals, a few of which are included in our Family Kickstart Program’s Recipe Guide.

Another option is Pinterest, but that is dangerous since a simple ten-minute scroll can turn into 2 hours of browsing leaving you dazed and recipe-less.

Choosing the right recipes for your family is a key component in keeping everyone on board as well as sticking to the program. I usually look for meals that are kid-friendly and well balanced. Some recipes might need a little adjusting, but that’s perfectly fine since the overall goal is to make one meal that everyone can and will want to eat.

After completing your meal map, take a look at the recipes and see what things can be prepared ahead of time. Pre-chopping veggies, making marinades, boiling eggs, and bagging veggies and fruits for snacks, are all great ways to start ahead.

Once you have the plan, you will need to create a shopping list. Our Family Kickstart comes with both the Meal Map and Shopping List for each week, saving you even more time. However, if you are using a different program just write down all the items, you will need.

With meal map and shopping list in hand, its time to shop! Make sure to set aside time for grocery shopping; this is one step you don’t want to do in a rush. Since you want to avoid multiple shopping trips in the week, the majority of your items will be purchased at once.

You will be eating A LOT of fresh produce, and I have found that buying the pre-cut options saves a lot of time, especially on those weeks where I know my family will be extra busy. Many grocery stores offer spiralized veggies, such as squash and zucchini as well as riced cauliflower, allowing you to skip those steps and still be prepared for meal time!

cauliflower rice

Buying frozen fruits and veggies is also an easy, cheap and great time-saver. They are often picked, washed, pre-cut, and frozen at peak ripeness, which means fresh produce all year around! I’ll use the veggies for a stir-fry, in soups, or fajitas while the fruit is tossed into smoothies or eaten as is, making a refreshing, healthy snack!

When it comes to protein, purchasing a cooked rotisserie chicken has been one of the biggest time savers! Use them to make lunches like my Southern Chicken Salad or Greek Chicken Salad Lettuce Cups!

As soon as you get home from the grocery store, I recommend you start prepping all items in your planner. Why? With all the planning and shopping you are in the mindset to “get things done”! From personal experience, I find that if I wait for later, not everything gets done. At first, this process will take a bit more time in the kitchen then what you are used to, but as you stay consistent you will get faster!

Staying prepared is the key to succeeding in any program! Make sure to check out the video above for more tips. And if you are interested eliminating gluten, dairy, processed foods, and sugars for your family for 30 days, check out the Family Kickstart Program.

Stay on track with your KickStart, Sugar Detox, Real Food, Paleo, or Whole30 with these meal planning tips.

Stay on track with your KickStart, Sugar Detox, Real Food, Paleo, or Whole30 with these meal planning tips.

Stay on track with your KickStart, Sugar Detox, Real Food, Paleo, or Whole30 with these meal planning tips.

Stay on track with your KickStart, Sugar Detox, Real Food, Paleo, or Whole30 with these meal planning tips.

Stay on track with your KickStart, Sugar Detox, Real Food, Paleo, or Whole30 with these meal planning tips.

Stay on track with your KickStart, Sugar Detox, Real Food, Paleo, or Whole30 with these meal planning tips.

3 Are you spending too much on food, trying to figure out how much you should spend on food, or trying to calculate your family’s monthly food budget.

How to Calculate Your Family’s Monthly Food Budget

Are you spending too much on food? Or maybe, you are still trying to figure out how much you should spend on food. Or maybe, you are still trying to calculate your family’s monthly food budget.

Creating a food budget is imperative to maintaining a healthy overall budget in your household. If you want to create the ideal food budget for a family of four, check out these tips to see how you should go about it.

To start out, you need to sit down and look at your family’s monthly budget; what income you have coming in each month and what expenses you have each month. Next figure out how much you have been spending every month on groceries. Have you been spending too much? Taking your newfound budget into consideration, think about how much you can afford to spend and create your family’s new grocery budget from that.

For more specific budget standards, check out the USDA’s cost of food tables. Each month they take into consideration an updated cost of food and create standard budget guides.

For example A family of four, with two adults and two kids between 6-11 years old could estimate a budget of $180 week (average) on a “low-cost” option and $240 on a “moderate-cost” plan. That same family can get ultra-thrifty and spend an average of $140 for all meals but that would take some planning for sure. Check out our budget-friendly 6-week plan.

Now that you know the amount that you have budgeted, it is time to create a meal plan based on your family of four. It’s important to create the meal plan and even more important is that you follow that meal plan. Creating meals outside of your menu, you will often find yourself going over your budget since you have to make extra shopping trips, etc.

Related: The $50/week Dinner Meal Plan

At the point that you have figured out your food budget, you can try it out for the first month and then decide if any adjustments can be made to make your budget better. You can do this by doing a food audit of your household. This means that you ask yourself a couple of questions such as:

  • How many meals are we eating out?
  • How many of those meals can be eaten at home?
  • Do we have a lot of unused leftovers?
  • Do we have a freezer full of food that is not being eaten?
  • Is there anything that we are buying, but not using? Could we cut these out of the budget to save?

After assessing how many meals you might be eating out that could be replaced with a homemade meal, you’ll need to add some of the dining-out funds towards the grocery budget. Typically, for every $10 spent on dining out, you allocate $5 to the grocery budget and save the other $5.

It will take some trial and error, but once you get your food budget created and you follow it, you will see how much money you can save and, surprisingly, how much better you will be eating.

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