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Easy Tips for Healthy Meal Planning

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by Krisha McCoy, MS

These days, more people are eating on the go—at their work desk, in the car, and at restaurants. But it's hard to enjoy delicious foods when eating on the run, and to-go meals are notoriously high in fat and calories

As technology evolves and our lives become crazier, sitting down with your family to enjoy healthful foods becomes all the more important. With a little planning, you'll find that you can prepare tasty and healthy meals at home.

Tips for Weekly Meal Planning

Taking the time each week to plan your meals can help make the foods you eat more nutritious, bring your family closer together, and keep your grocery bill within your budget. Try these meal planning tips:

  • Pick a day to plan. Each week, designate a day and time to plan the upcoming week's meals and make a shopping list organized into sections of the grocery store. You can use our Weekly Menus, which include dinner recipes and categorized shopping lists to help. When you make a shopping list and stick to it, you'll spend less time and money at the grocery store.
  • Make a favorite foods night. If your family loves a particular dish, such as tacos or pizza, plan to make the dish on the same day each week (think Taco Tuesdays or Pizza Fridays). But instead of picking up greasy delivery or take-out, experiment with a variety of healthful and delicious versions of your family's favorites. Bringing fun into your kitchen is a great way to get your family to gather around the dinner table. 
  • Think variety. Too many people get into a food rut, eating the same foods over and over, with little variance. Shake things up and boost the nutritious quality of your diet by eating different types of foods each day. At least once a month, try to eat a fruit or vegetable that you have never tried before. CooksAid Weekly Menus incorporate a variety of main dishes, based around poultry, seafood, vegetarian, lean red meats, pork, and other lean meats throughout the week.
  • Become a coupon clipper. Look in the newspaper, online, and in supermarket flyers for food coupons, and keep them in a small accordion file. As your plan your weekly menu, go through your coupons to help choose what you are going to buy and save money at the grocery store.
  • Get your family involved. If you have kids, getting their help in making your weekly menu is a great way to teach them that healthful foods can be delicious, too. Ask them to help you with shopping and preparing the foods, and let them choose what tasks they would like to do.
  • Remember nutritious snacks. When you are making your shopping list, make sure to add nutritious grab-and-go snacks, such as apples, oranges, bananas, cut vegetables, yogurt, low-fat cheeses, whole-grain crackers, nuts, and seeds. Then, when you get hungry, you'll have a healthful way to satisfy your cravings.

Thinking about planning your family's meals can be daunting, but once you get into the routine, regular meal planning can make your life easier and make family meals at your house and healthful and memorable tradition.

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