5 Tips for Successful Meal Planning

weekly-meal-planningMeal planning can be pretty tough. Sometimes it seems impossible to find the time to plan, prep, and execute. The truth is, it isn’t impossible at all. In fact, it is very possible! Here are a couple of tips that can help you avoid falling into common pitfalls of that come with the territory of meal planning:

1. Make food you will want to eat. This one seems pretty obvious, but it is really important to be realistic about the kinds of food you will want for the entire week. It can get pretty tiring having oatmeal every morning and salad for lunch every day. As long as you spruce it up and keep it interesting, you will be more inclined to stick to your plan!
Things to consider: Do you have a special recipe you wanted to try? Are you craving something? Most importantly, is your week extra busy? If so, you might want to think of recipes that are fast and easy, especially for the weekdays. Note: having a list of ~20 recipes is extremely helpful.

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2. A well-balanced diet starts at the grocery store, so when creating your grocery list make sure there are components from all food groups. You don’t have to have a recipe for every item you buy, but have an idea of when you will eat the food you purchase. Example: is the fruit you buy for a snack and/or a topping for oatmeal? Also, consider what is on sale, in s

eason, and if you have coupons for an item to be more budget-friendly.

3. Don’t plan a meal to cook for every day of the week. If you can recycle leftovers or ingredients, you can save both time, money, and room in your fridge. Example: think of meals that have ingredients in common; if you made grilled chicken on Monday, make enough so that you can chop up leftovers for a chicken salad for lunch on Tuesday or shred the meat for tacos a later night in the week.

4. FREEZE! Make extra servings of a dish on a day you have more time to cook. For example, if you made a huge pot of soup, you can freeze it in individual freezer bags or heavy-weight/ air-tight containers. For portion control or an easy packed lunch, you can even freeze them into individual servings. This helps prevent waste and is a useful tool for saving food that you might not have eaten before it goes bad.

5. Give yourself some wiggle room. If you planned to cook one night and were just too exhausted and bought take-out or just reheated leftovers – it’s no big deal! Just switch up the days in your meal plan so that you can cook what you planned later. Try to keep your plan flexible and don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t stick to what you planned.

Meal planning, like most things, gets better with practice. The more you try to do it, the better you get at it! I’m sure you will even develop your own little tricks and methods that work for you. If you do have some other tips, please mention them in the comments to share with other readers!

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

Take a quick break from finals to nourish your mind and to satisfy your appetite! Each bell pepper is graciously stuffed with complete sources of protein, vegetables, and healthy grains that may even kick a meat-lovers craving. If I can guarantee you passing anything this week, you will definitely pass the act of rewarding your body with the wholesome nutrition it deserves. If you haven’t done so yet, get creative in the kitchen and “enjoy the taste of eating right!”

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 3 cups quinoa, cooked
  • 1 (4-ounce) can green chilies
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, or more to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 bell peppers, tops cut, stemmed and seeded

Method

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a baking dish with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, combine quinoa, green chilies, corn, beans, tomatoes, cheeses, cilantro, cumin, garlic, onion and chili powder, salt, and pepper
  • Spoon the mixture in each bell pepper cavity. Place on prepared baking dish and bake until the peppers are tender and the filling is heated through, about 25-30 minutes.
  • Best when served immediately
  • Enjoy!

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Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 Bell pepper

Calories: 220; Fat: 4.5 g; Total Carbohydrates: 37 g; Dietary Fiber: 7 g;  Sugars: 7 g; Protein: 10 g

Vitamin A: 10% DV; Vitamin C: 200% DV; Calcium: 20% DV; Iron: 15% DV

No-Bake Peanut Butter Energy Bars

Peanut Butter Energy Bars

You know those days when you just want something sweet, but don’t want to go through the whole tub of ice cream? Many experts would suggest we settle for a square of dark chocolate, but we all know that’s not happening. The trick is finding a balance between the two. By choosing the right ingredients, we can satisfy our sweet tooth without feeling bloated and sluggish in a few hours. This recipe I came across combines protein-rich nuts and oats with the natural sweetness of maple syrup. Not only will these treats give you a sweet kick, but they’ll keep you feeling full for longer with their combo of healthy fats, protein and fiber. Plus, they’re super easy to make!

You will need:

  • 7 tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 cup dry old fashioned oats
  • 3 tbsp mixed nuts (or seeds)
  • Square tin or pan

Makes 9 bars

Directions:

  1. Mix peanut butter and maple syrup in a pan over medium heat. pouringStir until completely smooth.
  2. Add oats and mix thoroughly.
  3. Sprinkle on nuts or seeds and mix thoroughly.
  4. Transfer the mixture into a square tin and press it down evenly.
  5. Chill in the fridge for 30-45 minutes.
  6. Once firm, cut into 9 individual bars and enjoy!

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Nutrition Facts per Bar:

164 calories; 63 calories from fat; 7 g fat; 22 g carbs; 1 g fiber; 4 g protein