Hello and thanks for stopping by! My name is Angela. I am a scientist, wife, cat-mom, and fitness enthusiast. This page is my personal blog, and you will find a range of topics, centered around healthy living. Why “The Chicken Scoop”?  Well, when I started this blog, we had just gotten a small flock of chickens and the name just stuck!  I hope you enjoy your visit!

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Tips on Meal Planning

This week, I made an effort to plan out my meals and it worked really well.  I used to do this in the past and I think it was a giant factor in my weight loss and weight maintenance.  When you start it for the first time though, it can seem daunting and meal plans you find online aren’t always going to suit you so making your own is really best.  Here are just some of the things that I keep in mind when I sit down to prepare my plan for the week.

Tip #1:  Make an inventory of what you have.

First off, you need to see what you already have so you don’t buy doubles.  So as to not waste food, check your fridge and see what needs to be used up.  It could be full leftovers or maybe just some veggies you never got around to using this week.  Toss anything bad and write the rest down.

Tip #2:  Think of simple meals that use what you have plus a few additional ingredients.

I hate recipes with too many ingredients.  They make my grocery bill too expensive.  So after I’ve made my list of things I have, I try to think of recipes using those items with only a few extra ingredients added in.  Write down lots of ideas along with how many servings the recipe would make.

Tip #3:  Make sure these meals work in your life/schedule.

Nothing is worse than planning to make an elaborate meal on a night where you have 10 minutes to cook.  That’s not going to happen.  Make a meal plan that keeps your schedule in mind.  Are you rushed for lunch one day?  Maybe a sandwich would be a good idea since you can eat it on the go rather than soup and salad.  Plan to use leftovers on days that you won’t have the time (or maybe the energy?) to cook.

Tip #4:  Account for leftovers.

My biggest pet peeve about meal plans you find online and in books is that they hardly ever use leftovers. I never cook for more than 2 people so when a meal plan has you make a recipe for 4 servings and only shows up for 1 meal, that really irritates me. Maybe it will just be lunch the next day or you can change it into a new recipe by adding something to it.  Whatever you do, eat those leftovers.  Not only will it save you some time for certain meals but you grocery bill will also thank you.

Tip #5:  Make a shopping list as you go.

The second I add a meal to the plan, I write down what is in it directly on the meal plan.  Then from there, I can see what I still need by comparing to my inventory list.  Jot down anything you are missing and will need to buy.

Tip #6:  Don’t forget snacks.

It is almost guaranteed that I will forget about that tub of yogurt I bought if I don’t write it down.  I don’t plan out my snacks exactly but off to the side, I write a list of possible snacks, both savory and sweet.  This way, if I notice I have yogurt but no berries to top it with, I can buy some berries while I’m at the store.  Or maybe I have veggies but no hummus.  You get the idea.  Make sure you have complete, quick, available snacks so that when the munchies hit, you are ready to go and aren’t caught grabbing whatever junk food is closest to you.

Tip #7:  Account for all ingredients.

You recipe called for 1/2 a can of beans.  What are you going to do with the other half?  You made banana pancakes on Monday for breakfast.  What are you going to do with the rest of the banana bunch?  Unless it is something you can buy individually, recipes usually leave you with some stragglers.  You can hope to use these in your next week’s meal plan (and risk brown bananas) or you can remember to account for those in your plan too.

Tip #8:  Keep it simple.

The whole point of meal planning is to help you stress over 1 less thing so this shouldn’t be hard.  Make things you know how to cook more often than trying new recipes.  Trying to make a new pancake recipe for breakfast followed by an elaborate lunch and then a complicated dinner will just leave you wanting to order take out for the rest of the week.  The point of the meal plan is to take away the thought from meals so that you can invest that energy into other, more important things!

So that’s it!  I am not saying this is a good tip (which is why I didn’t list it) but I even throw in a freebie day where I don’t plan anything (usually Saturday because I like to leave it open for social events).  This way, I can use up things that I missed during the week or maybe just order pizza.  I hope these tips can help you be successful in your own meal planning!

 

Picture source:  http://www.supergluemom.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/meal-planning-weekly-menu.jpg

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