Welcome back to week 2 of our new “Good Habits” series. If you missed it, you can get caught up with the post that introduced the Good Habit
s series. Each week we will be discussing good habits. Some you may already have, some you may want to strengthen, and some which may be brand new to you. We will look at combining these good habits and look forward to things running smoother and in a more healthy way…….both physically and mentally. It will come as no surprise to find out that one of the Good Habits that I feel is important to really Juggling Real Food and Real Life is meal planning.
Meal Planning means different things to different people. When the phrase meal planning is used, many people think, “Ugghhh! I don’t want to be trapped down to having to cook certain meals on certain days. I’m a free spirit and I’m doing just fine flying by the seat of my pants.” Believe me, that’s what I thought for the longest time. My schedule seems to be always changing. That trend seemed to get worse with each additional child. I would think that I had tons of time to cook and then we would have a last minute meeting or fun opportunity spring up and all my plans would go out the window. I’m here to say……….”The busier you are, the more you need to meal plan.”
“The busier you are, the more you need to meal plan.”
If you want to avoid the fast food lines and eat more real food, the best way to achieve this is to always know what you are going to eat next. My family has been eating real food for a few years now and to this day, if we are starving and we don’t know what to eat because we haven’t planned properly, we are going to make a bad decision. That is why we really need to plan. Make a commitment to begin meal planning and you will quickly (dare I say) become addicted to how good it feels to always know what you will be eating next. I have found that even when the schedule changes, I am more easily able to adapt with my meal plan in place.
Tips for Using the Juggling Real Food and Real Life printable calendar
1. Activities Section: What makes this calendar unique is that it is focused on busy families. How do you know what to cook for dinner if you don’t know how much time you will have to cook? Some days I come home from work and can start cooking. My daughter’s dance night takes me out of the house till after 8PM. Obviously, those are two different dinner prep experiences for my family. I start by filling in all of the activities for the week. At a quick glance, I can see how much time I will have to prepare meals. An added bonus is that this serves as a reminder of all the activities going on in a particular week.
2. Meal Sections: Grab your master meal planning lists and fill in the foods that you want to eat for the week making sure you will have enough time to prepare them. Quesadillas, breakfast for dinner, or crockpot meals work really well for nights that there isn’t much time to cook. Meals that take longer I fill in when there is more time to cook. Be realistic about your time. There may even be times when you need to pack dinner like you do your lunch to avoid the fast food lines. If you are eating in the car on the way to a meeting, you can still eat real food. Don’t give up.
3. Evening Prep: The very bottom of the meal planning calendar is “evening prep”. It’s not pictured above, but it is a very important step in the meal planning process. This is another area where you are going to use your pockets of time. Are you going to make up your favorite crockpot meal, which is nice and easy to return home to, but takes a lot of chopping? You are going to want to chop the night before to make the morning rush easier. Did you include muffins in the kids’ lunches, but you haven’t made them yet? You are going to want to make sure to make them before you are supposed to pack them. Sometimes I start prepping on Monday for dinner on Wednesday. It just depends on what the week’s schedule looks like. It takes some practice and you are likely going to make some mistakes along the way, but that is OK. Keep with it and soon you will be Juggling like a pro.
There you go……..our first Good Habit to get to work on. Each week we will introduce new Good Habits. Remember that habits don’t happen overnight. Keep practicing and soon you will have a new normal. Do you already meal plan? What tips do you think will help others with meal planning? What scares you the most about meal planning?
If you are looking for help in making the transition to eating more real food, you should check out the Real Food Experience posts. You can get started at the beginning or jump around the challenges. You can find a complete round-up of the program here. Each week’s challenge is full of terrific advice to help you transition from fast and processed food to a real food diet. Changes that will help you to live a healthy lifestyle and have the energy to keep up with your busy schedule. I would also love for you to join me on social media. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on a regular basis. Leave me a comment and let me know you are there. I love to visit with my readers.