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National Nutrition Month: Incorporating meal planning into your weekly routine

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Have you ever tried to incorporate meal planning into your weekly routine? There are so many benefits to planning your meals ahead of time. Not only can it be very cost effective, but it can make your life easier to have meals already prepared for the week.

Here are my top recommendations on how to incorporate meal planning into your weekly routine:

  1. Look at your schedule ahead of time. Find out how many meals your family may need for the week based on your work and personal schedule. 
  2. Get creative with recipes. Try looking for recipes with overlapping ingredients or meals that you can cook in bulk. Use a crockpot or pressure cooker to make dishes like chili, meat, soups or stews. You can also make one sheet pan meals that include a protein, carbohydrate and vegetable that can be cooked all at once. If you struggle with incorporating vegetables in your meals, you can bulk up dishes like spaghetti sauce or tacos with vegetables like mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, squash and zucchini. You can also add vegetables to omelets, casseroles, burgers, soups and stews. Something I like to do is roast a tray of vegetables on Sunday night to have vegetables already cooked for the week that I can throw into different meals.
  3. Make a grocery list based on what meals and snacks you plan to make for the week. It will be more cost effective if you have a list and only purchase what you need for the week.  Make sure to read nutrition labels and fill your basket with nutrient dense options.
  4. Cook once or a few times throughout the week. You can make a few dishes at one time for the week, or you can cook in bulk a few times. Cooking in bulk involves doubling or even tripling the recipe to make multiple servings you can put in the refrigerator or freezer. You can repurpose dishes like shredded chicken in different recipes as well.
  5. Make snacks for the week. I like to portion out nuts in some containers or baggies as a snack option for the week. It is great to have non-perishable snack options in your purse, car or at your desk in case hunger strikes. Another thing I like to do is portion out containers of hummus and then, I will bring bags of vegetables like carrots, cucumber, celery and broccoli. It is a very satisfying and filling afternoon snack and an easy way to increase your vegetable intake.

Once you have your meals prepared for the week, you can enjoy your week!

Here is one of my favorite one sheet pan meal recipes:

Maple Glazed Salmon

Ingredients

  • 2 sweet or regular potatoes peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil
  • 4 cups of broccoli, brussel sprouts, butternut squash or any other vegetables of your choosing
  • 4 salmon fillets about 4-6 ounces each
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together maple syrup, mustard, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper to spread on salmon.
  4. Spread sweet potatoes and vegetables onto prepared pan and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil. Toss the vegetables in the oil and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add salmon and roast for 25 minutes, or until potatoes are just about fork-tender.
  6. Broil for a few more minutes until salmon flakes easily with a fork and top is browned and crispy.

As National Nutrition Month comes to a close, I hope you enjoyed our series on nutrition and found the information useful in helping you and your family achieve a healthier lifestyle. If you have any questions about nutrition, or want to learn more about our nutrition services at Texas Children’s, visit our website.

External Author
Staci Tobolowsky Astrein, MCN, RD/LD