Summer vacation is quickly coming to a close - meaning it's time for back-to-school supplies and packed lunches. This time of year can be overwhelming for most parents. However, one area you can put your mind to ease is around mealtime. Here are three easy meal planning tips for busy parents.
TIP 1 | Start with a Basic Weekly Guide. Meal planning means planning in advance. Sounds daunting, but it saves a lot of time during the week. Start by creating a flexible plan one meal at a time, then work your way up as you become more comfortable. Some plan one week at a time while others may plan month at a time. Find what works best for you. When planning - consider whole food groups to help ensure you provide balanced nutrition at meals.
- Protein: beef, poultry, fish, eggs, soy products
- Fruits: apples, bananas, oranges, peaches, grapes, pineapple, berries, melons
- Vegetables: broccoli, mixed greens, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, corn, legumes
- Grains: brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta
- Dairy: milk, yogurt, kefir, cheese
- TIP 2 | Create a Shopping List and Try Curbside Pickup. Many busy parents go to the grocery store on a whim and leave with a cart full of impulse purchases. Instead, try curbside pickup and save time from in-store shopping and even time loading up the trunk. Start by creating a shopping list on your favorite store app and plan a pickup time at your convenience. Pretty soon you may never want to step foot into a grocery store again!
TIP 3 | Buy Grab and Go Ingredients. Most days we'd like to say we have time to sit down for a traditional meal, but sometimes we just don't have that luxury. Prepare for these moments and have ready-to-go options available for you to dash out the door. Aim for a protein plus carbohydrate option whether it's a meal or snack. Below are examples of simple, quick breakfast meals
- Hard boiled eggs + apple
- Yogurt + berries
- Protein bar + banana
Meal planning can be challenging at the start, but once you've got it down - your weeks will shift from focusing on frustration to focusing on family. Trying new things can be hard but give at least one of these simple tips above a try and see how much easier meals can be.