Meal Planning – love it or hate it?
A quest to re-invent my meal planning with more nutritious and wholesome recipes has been a dismal failure for the last 12 months, and I now realise why. My recipe files are overflowing with the latest back to basics, wholefood trends, and I have been overwhelmed by CHOICE!
As my health journey progressed, my attention to new wholesome recipes became an addiction. The problem is out of the hundreds of recipes I have printed I have probably only tried a handful and the reason, apart from spending all the time printing out new found “favourites’ rather than cooking them, is too much CHOICE.
The internet and Facebook pages are full of delicious, wholesome, gluten-free, dairy free, sugar free, vegan, paleo, low carb… (insert your preference) recipes and they all look amazing, but how will I ever know if they truly are delicious if I don’t actually get to make them?
I realise that my regular meal plan was perfectly fine to start with but the desire to “re-invent” it,“super-charge” it, and “inject new life” into it totally backfired. Amidst the “what’s for dinner?”, “not something new again”, and “what happened to our old meals?” from the kids, I was drowning in 50 recipes for Spaghetti Bolognaise [slight exaggeration but you get what I mean ] so I fell into paralysis by analysis and then I would find another “must try” recipe to add to the pile.
As I coach others on making meal planning easier it has helped me to step back and look at what worked for me, what clearly hasn’t, and come up with a simple strategy to cope with the influx of tempting delights we see daily.
TOP TIP – Keep it simple
1. Start with the BASICS – utilize the family favourites first.
2. Choose ONE DAY for your “new” recipe
3. SAVE your recipes into files online or on your computer for quick reference. Beef, Chicken, Vegetarian, Salad, Baking, Basics, etc. whatever works for you. Fill up your hard drive not your bookshelf. Let’s face it, it is actually easier to find a recipe if you’ve saved it to a file rather than searching through 100’s of printed recipes even if your filing system is immaculate.
4. Choose ONE RECIPE - When it’s time to try a new recipe, search it up and just choose one. Test it out and if it’s a success keep it for next time and add it to your regular meal plan. If it’s a dud, not the right fit for you or the family, delete it. It might look great but take too long to prepare, the ingredients might be too hard to find, too fiddly, too spicy, too bland, too crumbly, whatever it is accept it just isn’t the right fit for you and move on.
5. LIMIT yourself if you need to so the overwhelm of too much choice, too many options, doesn’t take hold.
6. COMMIT to it, add it to your next meal plan so you try it while it is fresh in your mind. The longer you “keep it” the more likely you are to forget and find another just like it.
My latest attempt at organisation includes a cheap simple Display Book with my meal plan in the front and the shopping list second, followed by the recipes I need for the meal plan. I have two recipes for snacks and two for extras like granola, or freezer recipes, whatever my focus is for that week. When I’ve tested them they either stay as a new favourite or they go. Less choice, less distraction.
What have you found works for you?
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