Meal Planning

Supermarket Savvy & the Taste of Eating 'Right'

Happy National Nutrition Month all!

This year, the theme for NNM is 'Enjoy the taste of eating right!', and I just love that sentiment because food tastes great.  There are a plethora of flavors out there, and as an honest foodie, it makes me sad when I hear about people being addicted to three things: salt, sugar, fat.  This isn't because they don't have interesting flavor properties, it's because they tend to dominate, and start to slowly drown out a lot of other amazing flavors.

Real food tastes great.  Real herbs, spices, produce, eggs, cheese, poultry/meat/fish.  And the list goes on... All great.  The awesome bonus to this is the role that good food can play in meeting health goals.  That means that your health goals can be reached by eating real, whole foods.  This is not an accident.  I always joke to patients that if they were busy eating their recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, they'd have little room for 'the crap'.  We laugh together, but I mean it.  

Learning how to properly grocery shop, stock a pantry, make a meal out of a few basic ingredients, and utilize a few basic knife and cooking techniques are essential life tools.  Essential life tools that become part of your roadmap to 'eating right'.

Some great resources I love to help get you there!

  • Supermarket Savvy: A virtual tool for healthier shopping aimed at consumers, chefs, and RDNs!
  • Meal Makeover Moms: Two RDN's that have dedicated their careers to developing family-friend cookbooks and spreading the news on necessary tools for a healthy kitchen.
  • MyPlate Healthy Eating on a Budget: From the MyPlate messaging, tip sheets and tools to help with meal planning for the budget-conscious household.
  • Fruits and Veggies More Matters: This public health campaign is the most important thing you can learn for meal planning.  And seasonality matters.  I beg you to check out the site and use their tools!
  • Whole Foods Healthy Cooking Guide: Great tools for the visual learner - watch their healthier cooking videos to master new kitchen techniques and use their whole grains guide to rotate in new options.
  • Healthy Aperture: A foodie-nutrition community of health & food bloggers that have uploaded their recipes with beautiful photos.  Your new free cookbook complete with professional input.
  • Fruitable: Ever wonder how to pick and store fruits and vegetables?  Use this website (launching an app soon!) to figure it out!

Have any other ones to add to the list?!  Happy cooking, and more importantly, happy healthy eating!

The Concept of Planning

A Little Backstory

So today I was sitting down and looking through recipes and for one of them, an egg salad sandwich, it called for the ingredients to be mixed together, chilled, and then later combined into a sandwich.  Reading this, I thought to myself, "Huh, that means you have to plan lunch earlier on in the day and make it ahead of time."

And then it hit me that my thinking was absolutely backwards.  I realized that I expected meals to be completely thoughtless and easy.  I know that I personally tend to make lunch when I'm starting to get a little bit hungry (unless of course I'm bringing food to work).  Part of this thoughtlessness is because I feel comfortable in the kitchen, and part of it is because I keep a lot of the same foods in my pantry and fridge...  Those meals become routine for me.  

Jolting Back to Reality  Photo courtesy of WhatShouldIEatForLunch.

The truth is that this was one of those eyes-wide-open moments.  I realized that while I may take food for granted, I was overlooking the importance of meal planning.  I had become stuck in a rut and looking for new and exciting meals would help me to break this.  I think that this lack of consciousness about our meals is contributing to the desire for fast and easy.  Unfortunately fast and easy are often traded for (although not always!) nutritious.  

I'm thankful I had this mini wake-up call and I hope sharing it can cause you to think twice about your own meal planning.  In planning one meal (or in the case of most of us grad students; a dish that will last for several meals) making those decisions may lead to healthier choices.  Meal planning gives the individual time.  It allows time to select recipes and look up new preparation methods.  It provides time to shop the best ingredients afforded, and allows several points along the road to make nutritional decisions.  The average person makes about 250 food decisions daily.  If those food decisions are for foods consumed today as well as tomorrow, you may have greater control over the healthfulness of the meal.  Incorporating meal planning into your weekly grocery and cooking routine can only help over the long run.  

How do you feel?  Are you aware of most of your food decisions?  Or realize you're making them in the kitchen or at the point of purchase?  Do you find it hard to think ahead of time when it comes to food and meal planning?  

Questions, anecdotes or comments welcome!