Meal Planning Made Easy

Hi! Good to be back! It’s been very busy indeed, with plenty of study and a fair amount of experiments in the kitchen.

Speaking of cooking … a blessing or a curse?  A pleasure for some but a headache for others.  Would you like some tips on  how to make your meal planning easy?

I came across “Planning Meals” in my course work Childhood Nutrition and Obesity Prevention and it inspired me to share these tips with you.

As a working mother, I always found meal planning very helpful.  But when my children left home, I was less fussed about planning meals. Old habits die hard and when I came across this section in my notes, it rekindled a passion from the past.

Historically, I used to spend a good couple of hours, typically on a Sunday afternoon, leafing through my cookery books.  I love it; so relaxing (agreed – not everybody’s cup of tea!) But the advent of the Internet changed all that!

From my course work I picked this very good tip – “theme nights” – which inspired me to write this piece and share it with you. Here goes …

Write down your “theme nights” – example: Monday – pasta; Tuesday – fish; Wednesday – mince / grains / pulses; Thursday – rice; Friday – soups / salad; Saturday – kids’ favourite meal; Sunday – family treat out / old favourite recipe.

There are various meal planning apps these days. Alternatively, you can go for a more flexible approach and run a search for the food you’d like to eat. Keep your searches simple – do not choose complicated recipes with plenty of ingredients – unless you are blessed with time on your hands.  The trend is five-ingredient recipes.

Refine your searches as you go – browse by ingredients instead of recipes.  If you have leftover pasta in the fridge and a broccoli head that’s losing it’s bright green colour, Google “pasta with broccoli” and presto! You end up with a number of recipes to choose from. It’s that easy!

Ask your kids for their suggestions, even if they’re still young.  Involving your family with meal planning will make it less likely you have complaints at supper time and instills good habits in kids.

What are the benefits of meal planning?

  • Meal planning saves time, effort and stress;
  • It’s cost effective;
  • You have all your ingredients readily available;
  • You can work around commitments by preparing ahead.


The secret behind successful meal planning is not how detailed your plan is, but how varied.  Make it interesting – present a rainbow of colour and texture with every meal.  Ensure meals contain carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats to meet your family’s nutritional needs.  Look for seasonal offers, especially at your vegetable man and buy local produce.  Local fruit and veg in season, is likely to save you money and give you a product that’s more fresh than it’s imported counterpart.

Download your weekly menu planner, courtesy of Future Fit Training School of Nutrition, to get you started.

Weekly Menu PlannerWeekly menu planner (1)

My thanks go to:

Future Fit Training School of Nutrition – Five Best Meal Planning Apps – 5 Ingredient Recipes – Dinner tonight: Pasta e Broccoli Recipe


Lose Weight in the Kitchen, get fit in the Gym

Diet vs exercise –  studies show it is easier to watch what you eat than to workout the extra calories in the gym. Exercise is a very important part of a healthy lifestyle, but controlling how much you eat is by far more important.

Today I would like to share with you 5 tips to help you lose weight in the kitchen.

  1. Your healthy eating starts at the supermarket – don’t buy junk food.  Don’t allow yourself to be tempted when you open your cupboard.  Spring clean your cupboards and fridge from all the biscuits, chocolates, ice-cream and all the processed stuff.  Instead stock up on fresh fruit, vegetables, grains, pulses and lean meat such as fish or chicken.healthy-looking-fridge
  2. Keep a food diary – it is not easy to remember all that goes through your mouth in the space of a day –  a generous spread of peanut butter, a fizzy drink, cake at eleven, biscuits with your afternoon tea, crisps or chocolate whilst watching TV – and the list goes on. Keep a food diary and take note of all you eat.  Be honest with yourself and go into detail. Note also the time of day and the mood you were in when you ate. Are you eating out of habit or because you’re hungry? Are you really hungry or thirsty? You’d be surprised how easy it is to eat out of habit, when you’re thirsty, when you’re stressed or tired.
  3. Weigh your food – portion distortion is the #1 culprit for weight gain. It is not easy to figure out how much food you need to keep healthy.  Unfortunately, we are made to believe we need more food than we actually do.  Take meat portions for instance – 250 / 350 g a piece – when in fact you only need 1 g of protein (meat or fish) for every one kilo of body weight.  Therefore, a 60-kg person requires 60 g of protein a day.  Keep cup and spoon measures on your work top and use them, all the time.  Smaller dinner plates help you control your portion size.
  4. Drink plenty of water – what is plenty of water?  There are various schools of thought about the amount of water you should drink.  Lately, I came across an article which I think makes perfect sense.  You can tell if you’re drinking enough water by looking at the colour of your urine.  If your urine is dark, you need to drink more water. I like using a two-litre bottle as a guide to how much water I drink each day.   You  need to drink more water if you drink alcohol or  workout at the gym. A good way to start your day is by drinking a mug of lukewarm water with lemon.
  5. Spread your meals over the daygolden rule #1 is don’t miss breakfast. Research shows that people who eat breakfast regularly are able to control their weight long term. Space your meals throughout the day.  Eat five small meals instead of three large ones.  This will keep you full throughout and help cut down on snacking.  Whenever possible do not eat your last meal just before you go to bed. Remember, your heaviest meal should be in the morning, not last thing at night.

Doesn’t sound complicated, does it?  You do not need to reinvent the wheel to lose weight. A few changes and some awareness should help you get on track and manage your weight long term.

Increase your level of activity as part of your healthy lifestyle for better results.

One final tip for the festive season – don’t miss out on celebrations – moderation is key.  If you’re going to a drinks party, have a bowl of homemade soup before you leave the house and avoid the finger food that goes round.  As for drinking – take one glass of water for each one of alcohol you drink.

The choice is yours – big changes start with small steps.  Let me know how you get on.

My thanks go to

The Unbounded Spirit


Mirror online

Popsugar for image

5 Tips to prepare easy, healthy meals

Don’t know about you, but when I get home at the end of a day, the first thing I reach out for, is my supper. I try to make it a point to have food ready in the fridge, cause otherwise I nibble until supper’s ready.  I’m OK if I’m out and about, but when I get home, I’m starved! From experience, I know this is especially true of young children as well.

How do you get supper ready ASAP?

1. Get organised – plan your meals: everyone has their own way of planning meals.  You can use a physical calendar, a diary or an app.  Go with whatever works for you; the secret is, do not leave meals to chance.  Make time once a week or once a fortnight to plan your meals. If you don’t, the likelihood is you’ll go for take-outs which are less healthy and more expensive. meal-planning-ideas-and-calendar-printable

When planning your meals, choose simple recipes.  Look at your diary and check what commitments you have after work; plan meals to suit your timetable.

2. Shop wisely:  keep a well-stocked store cupboard with basics such as rice, pasta, canned tomatoes, olive oil, beans, tuna, grains and pulses, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, spices and herbs etc.  Save time on shopping by getting the non-perishables in bulk and fruit, veg and fish once a week or as you go.  Save money by preparing meal plans round produce in season; it tastes better and is less expensive.

3. Have theme nights:  make your life easier.  Work with theme nights – pasta nights, chicken nights, fish nights, soup nights, etc. – and rotate every couple of weeks to keep the meal plan varied and interesting.  Ask your family for suggestions when you’re preparing your meal plan. Involve your kids and try work around meals suitable for the whole family.7 day meal plan

4. Be flexible with your meal plan: do not be hard on yourself.  Be ready for the odd night when you do not feel like preparing what you planned. Maybe you left work late and could not stop to get that last minute ingredient.  Never mind … if you have a well-stocked cupboard, you can always whip up something quickly – a plate of pasta, an omlette with homemade potato wedges and beans or a green salad with canned tuna. You can also swap the menu from another day, unless you have leftovers to save the day.

5. Batch cooking: over the week-end, when you have a little bit more time on your hands, prepare what you can – tomato sauce, soup, casserole, pies.  Cool the food completely and put it in the fridge or freeze for another day.

Cook ahead – prepare your meals one or two days in advance.  It avoids you having hungry mouths waiting for supper when you get home and allows you to enjoy preparing family meals. Cooking ahead also allows you to have a day off, every now and then, when you can put your feet up and relax with your family.

If you’re always rushed off your feet when you get home, give these tips a go – you have nothing to lose.  Organise yourself and draw up a meal plan.  Look up some simple recipes and shop for the ingredients.  Stock up your cupboards so you do not have to run to the shops every day.  Make allowance for when things do not go according to plan and prep food ahead so you make time for yourself.

Go for it and let me know how you get on …

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