Molly Molofsky, a certified nutritionist and personal chef (who also happens to be from Sonoma), is bringing you 5 tips on how to meal plan healthy food! Meal planning is a great way to ensure that you have healthy food accessible and ready to go at all times so that it is actually easier to eat healthy than eat junk food. Molly studied holistic nutrition at Bauman College and her recipes have been featured in Athleta, The Body Book, The Chalkboard and PopSugar! She is an expert at all things health and wellness related when it comes to nutrition, so without further ado, here are your five tips from Molly.
Are your New Year's resolutions to step up your health already a little blurred?
You’re not alone if you’re feeling the motivation that came with first weeks of January start to wear off.
But often, it’s not lack of motivation that will deter you from your healthy habits. It’s the lack of the right tools and support.
Good news: there’s one tool that only takes 15 minutes per week and can keep your healthy eating game on point all year long.
And we don’t mean the “meal prep” that makes you think of 15 identical tupperwares filled with diet food. Or planning out your entire months of food in one sitting. There isn’t a right or wrong way to meal plan. It doesn’t have to mean a diet scheme or an unbendable set of rules. Rather, it’s a sustainable tool to help design a lasting healthy lifestyle for you.
Here’s 5 steps to use meal planning to help you stay on track in only 15 minutes per week:
Step 1: Write it down.
Use an online meal planner (I love mealplannerpro or pepperplate) to mix and match recipes from week to week. That way you don’t waste time racking your brain of what to make every week. The dishes you’ve made in the past are all right there in front of you. You could also use a Google Doc or Evernote to record your meals and grocery lists. Even an old notebook or day planner works great. The point is, taking the couple minutes to jot down your meals and grocery lists for the week will save you so much time and brain power when you’re exhausted after work and trying to think of what to make.
Step 2: Use your calendar.
When making your meal plan, look at your work/social calendars at the same time. Take into consideration days you have plans or might get home late from work - maybe that’s a good day for the quick 1 skillet meal, or crock pot recipe. Plus, you’ll reduce waste by only planning meals and getting groceries for nights you’re home. Nothing is worse than stocking your fridge with healthy food you love and forgetting you have 3 nights of dinner plans that week.
Step 3: Consider your goals.
Before you set off to the store with your list, consider your goals. Take a step back and make sure the meals you have planned are in line with those intentions you set in January. For example, are you trying to eat more vegetables and less meat? Swap your tuesday taco night for a black bean version. Looking to cut back on pasta? Keep wednesday's marinara but serve it over zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash instead. The beauty of taking this time to plan your meals is that your giving yourself the opportunity to make mindful choices.
Step 4: Add a to-do section.
When thinking about what meals you’ll be making, also think about what prep needs to be done to make the meal. Do those beans have to be soaked? Does a whole chicken need to roast for 3 hours? Does a piece of meat need to marinate? We suggest tackling all the prep you can in one big batch cook day. For example, every sunday you can do all the prep for your recipes for the week. You can cook the grains, make a marinade, or cook your proteins. If that doesn’t work for you and your lifestyle, don’t worry - you’re not doing it wrong. You just need to make sure all your recipes can be made in the amount of time you’ll realistically want to spend in the kitchen on weeknights. Having a to list for recipes that have multiple steps takes the stress out of weeknight cooking.
Step 5: Stay inspired:
If you need inspiration on what to make - look in your pantry. Do you have a bag of lentils or jar of marinara that’s been on the shelf for weeks? Maybe you can look up a recipe to use them up. Not only will the help you think of what to make, it will save on that grocery bill!
While it is definitely useful to repeat meals, don’t forget to have a little fun with this. Use the seasons to try new vegetables. Leave 1 night per week to try a new recipe. Meal plan with a friend or family member who cooks and eats like you to exchange recipe ideas. Keep this weekly task enjoyable and your much more likely to stick to it long terms.
That’s it! Now, it’s your turn to get to action.