Food is a big deal in our home and eating healthy is a priority but being practical is a necessity. While we are far from perfect eaters we have made crazy progress since our days of top ramen and boxed mac and cheese. Here’s how we try to eat clean without the pressure of being perfect about it. Our level of success always depends on the week, how busy our schedule is and all that good stuff. No matter what your food challenges are I hope you find something that’s helpful or encouraging, below.
HOW WE MEAL PLAN –
- FOOD GOALS – I think it’s important to start with a clear goal in mind and feeding a family is no exception. My goal is to make healthy food accessible to my family and teach my kids how to take care of their bodies. Yours might be similar or maybe you want to lower your food budget by eating out less or resolve a health issue with food or just look and feel better!
- WRITE OUT A MEAL PLAN: kind of a no brainer, but also the most important part so I made a FREE PRINTABLE for you to download. I also love my friend Emily’s PaperWorks collection which includes a lot of meal planning resources.
- PINTEREST: is my favorite resource for recipes.
- PLAN 4 DINNERS PER WEEK: Between our work schedules, the kids’ activities and social get togethers, our schedule is busy and no matter how meticulous we might be about keeping a calendar, things change. For the sake of being flexible and avoiding food waste we assume that the other days we’ll eat takeout, with friends, have leftovers or make something super easy (like hippie bowls, burritos or rice and chicken).
- PLAN OTHER MEALS & SNACKS TOO: We plan 2 options for breakfast, lunch and snacks too. This takes out the guess work and negotiations.
- GROCERY SHOP 2x PER WEEK: At the beginning of the week we buy groceries for 3 dinners, other meals and pantry staples. Our second trip we buy the last dinner and whatever we’ve run out of.
- DIVIDE & CONQUER: On a typical week, I do the meal planning and make a shopping list and Johan does the shopping. This arrangement was honestly so painful to adjust to. The first couple months he would get frustrated with certain items on my list that he couldn’t find or maybe an ingredient he thought was too expensive, etc. and I would be annoyed with items missing and other ones that weren’t on the list. Ha! It took some time but eventually we both relaxed a little and now it works out perfectly-ish!
- BABY STEPS – Going cold turkey is not something that has worked for us, unless there is an end date (like a 30 day cleanse). Not only that but changing things suddenly and drastically makes for very grumpy kids. So if we feel like we need to be eating less sugar, processed foods or gluten we start by removing it from a particular meal or part of the day. I’ve found that it’s easiest to adjust breakfast and dinner since the middle of our day is the busiest.
- KEEP IT SIMPLE – when it comes to recipes. Every once in awhile I plan a meal that’s more elaborate but most of the time I make simple, whole food meals with ingredients that are easy to adjust based on whats in season or in my fridge.
- HOMEMADE – is always best but sometimes function and convenience is more important. Just add some fresh fruits and veggies and call it good.
- WHITE CHEDDAR – this is sort of a random tid-bit but did you know that cheddar cheese isn’t naturally orange?! They did a consumer study in the 50’s (or something) and found that more people bought cheddar when it was orange so they’ve been adding coloring ever since. Moral of the story? Do research when inspiration strikes and buy white cheddar :).
- PICKY EATERS ARE OK – We have 2 really good eaters, 2 that are a little particular and another that wants nothing to do with anything that’s not processed. Sometimes I get (really) frustrated but I try to keep it in perspective. This is were having a goal comes in handy. Again, mine is to offer healthy foods and teach my kids how to take care of their bodies, not force them to like everything I make. So we give them the freedom to eat what is served or not but they don’t get options or dessert if they don’t eat. I also try to emphasize manners over pickiness. They may not be able to control their taste buds, but they can control their reaction to what food is served. Both are a work in progress.
Here is the printable MEAL PLANNER & SHOPPING LIST, PDF is you missed it above.
Thoughts, questions, frustrations or tips about eating healthy? Spill the beans in the comments!