Meal Planning Basics: Setting the Stage for Success

by Estela Schnelle | August 20, 2013 at 2:41 pm | comments

As a busy working mother of two little girls, I have learned that when it comes to consistently feeding my family and keeping them healthy, meal planning is key. As a Together CountsTM program ambassador, I find it easiest to go back to the basics and make a plan for balanced eating. Our lives are getting busier by the minute. Setting a goal to provide our family with three nutritious meals per day may sound daunting, but with a decent plan in place, our goals can easily be accomplished.

The first step towards getting your family on the right track is to make a plan. Sit down together as a family and make a list of foods each person loves. Here is what each person’s list should include:

  • Three fruits
  • Three veggies
  • Two whole grain snack options
  • A favorite lean protein such as chicken, fish or lean red meat
  • Cereal/bread items (each should have at least 3-4 grams of fiber per serving)

Here are some of my family’s favorite mealtime staples:

This list will serve as your core items, which should all be included in your weekly grocery trip.

Need some help assembling the foods above into a daily meal plan? Here’s a great sample way to incorporate them.

  • Breakfast: Whole grain cereal, low-fat milk and strawberries
  • Snack: Banana and granola bar, water
  • Lunch: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, hummus with carrots, snap peas or any veggie
  • Snack:  Low fat yogurt and 1/2 cup whole wheat crackers
  • Dinner: Lean protein such as grilled chicken, fish or steak, servings of veggies such as broccoli, or another family favorite, serving (1/2 cup) of rice or pasta, and low-fat milk to drink.

Include kids in creating their lunches and family dinners. The more the kids are involved in meal creation, the more they are likely to eat it. Once a few meals are chosen, include those items on your grocery list. The idea is to set your family up for success by planning and having plenty of options at your fingertips. The secret to success is consistent action. If you make a goal together as a family there is a greater chance of success. You and your family will be well on your way to a healthier lifestyle.

How does your family do meal planning for the week?

Estela is a Registered Dietitian & stay-at-home mom living in Southern California.  You can often find her writing on her personal blog Weekly Bite, a lifestyle blog centered around food, life and mommyhood.

For additional meal planning tips, check out additional posts from the Together CountsTM Program.