Meal planning for a balanced plate
Eating mindfully should be a planned and thoughtful process.
Eating mindfully is a planned and thoughtful process. We need to pay attention to what we sow into our bodies now to be able to stay healthy, active and avoid chronic health conditions in the future — six months or 16 years away.
This month, let’s explore meal planning and what’s required to achieve a balanced plate.
Meal planning is an easy simple tool to boost your health. It’s a simple concept that helps manage your time, reduce the stress of what to eat and what to cook and adds variety to your week while increasing nutrient density and saving time on hectic weekday evenings.
- Write down meals you want to make for the entire week. A meal plan worksheet is great for planning your week and figuring out what items you may need to buy.
- While making a meal plan, visualize your day. Include activities or commitments for the day which will give you a better idea of time on hand on a particular evening or day to fix a meal. Be realistic as to how much time and effort you can dedicate to cooking and thoughtfully place meal ideas on the meal plan worksheet.
- Check your refrigerator, freezer, and cabinets to see what you already have. First use these items and thereafter shop for the rest so you are prepared to make meals for the upcoming week.
- Make a list starting with listing ingredients for meals you plan to make.
- Take account of what you already have.
- Buy healthy options such as frozen vegetables that can be used in a rush.
Stock your kitchen:
- Stocking the pantry, freezer and refrigerator with healthy, minimally processed staples while clearing out the over processed foods will help in successful meal planning and mindful eating.
- While stocking, think of food in the following groups: healthy carbohydrates, vegetables and fruits, dried beans and legumes, dairy, animal protein, nuts and healthy fats, treats and extras. Below are few suggestions, add based on your menu items.
- Freezer staples: Frozen vegetables and fruit; pre-soaked, ready-to-cook dried beans; fish; lean cut chicken and turkey; salmon; shrimp and ground meats.
- Refrigerator staples: Leafy greens, fish, plain greek yogurt, eggs, low-fat milk, plant-based milk, organic nut butter, washed fruits, lemon and variety of flavoring sauces. Do not forget flavor enhancing herbs such as mint, parsley, cilantro, ginger and garlic.
- Pantry staples: Whole grains (as in rice, wheat, oats), dried beans, canned beans, legumes, unsalted walnuts, unsalted almonds, flax seeds, healthy fats such as nut butters.
- Snacks: Apple sauce, dried fruits, plain popcorn. Seasonings/spices- salt, pepper, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, chili powder, curry powder etc
- Oils: olive oil, sesame seed oil, grape seed oil.
- Onions, potatoes.
Batch cooking & prepping
- Pick a day of the week that you can commit 2 hours to prep work, which will set you up to eat healthy for the rest of the week.
- Make meal components, which gives us an option to mix and match to create a quick meal.
- Some meal components that prep and store well include cooked grains (rice, pasta, quinoa), mixed salad greens, variety of cooked dried beans such as garbanzo beans, black beans, roasted vegetables, chopped vegetables, grilled/baked chicken and tofu.
- Pre-portioned washed bags/boxes of fruits, yogurt, baby carrots, celery, homemade trail mix works well for grab and go snacks.
- Store the meal components as solo in containers. Which allows you to add variety in simple ways. (Ideas below)
- Rotation of menu items helps to stream line the planning process.
QUICK COMPLETE AND SIMPLE MEAL PLANNING IDEAS
MEXICAN BOWL – Brown rice + black beans + frozen corn + chopped pepper + salsa, sliced avocado.
BAKED SALMON – Frozen salmon + Olive oil + ginger + garlic. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Add whole grain of your choice along with a choice of vegetable on the side to make a complete meal.
CROCKPOT SOUP – Veggies, stock, seasonings, protein and herbs offer a variety of soup options.
SALAD – Fresh greens + beans/chicken + nuts+ dressing (1 tablespoon olive oil with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar)
First seen on The Indian SCENE