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Benefits of meal planning

Benefits of meal planning

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Living a healthier life through

better nutrition

The benefits of meal planning for your week ahead

“A clear vision, backed by definite plans, gives you a tremendous feeling of confidence and personal power.”

– Brian tracey

There are so many quotes around planning and the motivation and success that can come from it, and that is because it is undeniable that planning ahead does encourage higher levels of success than just muddling through. 

This is true of all areas of life, and in many industries. Businesses aren’t successful because they played each day by ear – they had plans. Your family holidays are definitely better for planning when you are going, how you will get there, and where you will stay. Of course people do just get up and go and see where it takes them (brave brave people!), but on the whole people plan.

Now put that same theory towards your eating habits. Are you better off seeing how you feel in the moment and having something in the fridge that will satisfy your level of hunger, or what you fancy there and then? Come dinner time are you going to be able to rustle up a satisfying meal for the family if you haven’t planned ahead, or are you just hoping that you picked up enough random items at the supermarket to be able to cobble together a cooked meal?

Are you seeing the benefits of planning yet?

I’d like you to try something ready for your next big food shop. Get out your favourite notebook, a spreadsheet, a chalkboard, a Pinterest board (see the previous post about Pinterest planning), the family calendar, whatever takes your fancy, and work out what you are going to eat for the week.

You can just plan out your evening meals, so that you know what they will be and then see what you fancy for breakfast and lunch each day, or go the whole hog and plan it all. The option you choose depends on you and your personality. 

Do you need a full on routine and need to know all of your meals are planned, or are you better having planned but still having some flexibility, and so the evening meal planning is best for you?

There are a few reasons why it’s a good idea. Firstly, it’s motivating. If you are trying to improve the variety in your diet, eat more fresh food, lose weight, gain weight, or improve your regularity of meals then planning is super motivating. It gives you the starting blocks to build on and a plan that you can start to follow.

It helps you to shop smarter. You can buy just what you need, reducing food waste and maybe cutting back on the spending too. 

When you know what you want to eat for the week you can form a shopping list, so when you get to the supermarket you can just pick up the items that you need rather than hunting around for options that you may be able to use. Doesn’t that sound less stressful? I really don’t enjoy food shopping so I like to have a list, get in, get what I need, and get out! Don’t forget, you can use online supermarket shopping to plan out your basket and check your costs as you plan, so there will be no nasty surprises when you get to the shops.

It helps you to evaluate your own diet (if that’s what you are hoping to do). It’ll help you to spot patterns, see what you are eating overall, see where you might want to make some changes. Do you think you could use it as a way to plan in some more fruit and veg, or some more wholefoods, so that you can get more fibre in your diet?

 

Meal planning also takes away some of the stress of deciding what to eat each day. If you work full time for example, and need to feed the family at the end of a long day, then having a plan can help with this.

Maybe you could plan ahead and be prepared enough to pop the slow cooker on in the morning, or even just have some veg peeled and chopped ready to cook.

 

Make meal planning a nice time too. Grab a coffee in the morning, or a tall cold drink in the evening if that is better for you. Find a space you like to sit in and look through some recipes. Get online, or check out one of the free magazines that your local supermarket offers you. Recipes are everywhere. Enjoy the satisfaction of having lots of lovely meals planned for the week ahead.

 Just some ideas. There will be other ways to plan your week, but I hope that’s got the brain ticking and got you inspired. Now where’s that pen and paper………?

 

Use By, Best Before & Sell By dates

Use By, Best Before & Sell By dates

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Living a healthier life through

better nutrition

Best Before, Use By & Sell By dates

“Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of those who are poor and hungry.”

– pope francis

Food labelling can be confusing, especially around the dates that we find stamped on them. Best Before, Use By, Sell By…. so similar yet mean different things. I will try to break them down and explain them for you.

Best Before 

This date is all about the quality of the food, and not so much the safety. It may say Best Before or Best Before End.

If you eat the food before this date you’ll be eating it at it’s best in terms of flavour and texture. For example, fruit and vegetables may start to lose their ripeness after this date. Tinned or dried foods will also have this date. Although they last much longer than fresh foods, there will still be a time where it’s not so good to eat.

You won’t do yourself any harm eating after this date, it just won’t taste as good as it would before if you’ve stored it correctly. 

Use By

 

This date is about safety. You’ll find it on foods like fresh meat and fish.

If you store the food correctly it will be safe to eat until the Use By date, but after that you risk food poisoning. Once this date has passed you should not eat the food.

Sell By 

This one is a bit confusing to you as someone shopping, because it is really there to help the shop keep their shelves stocked correctly. You don’t need to worry about this date when wondering whether or not to eat something. 

The smell test 

Lots of people say that if it doesn’t smell bad then it’s still fine to eat, despite the Use By date, but don’t be tempted to do this. There will be times where food is not safe to eat even though they smell fine. There are bacteria that you just cannot smell if they are present. It’s not worth the risk.

And drinks?

 

What about drinks? Yes, the dates apply in the same way for these too. Stick to the dates on the bottles and cartons to be on the safe side.

 

Remember, all of this applies if you are storing your food correctly. You can prolong the life of some foods by freezing them, and again the label on the package should tell you how long you can safely freeze it for.

 

Ultimately, if we can consider what we are going to eat in advance we can help reduce the amount of food that we have that passes these dates. If you know what you need, you can buy what you need, and throw away less food. This can only be a good thing right? 

 

Fresh eggs don’t float

Fresh eggs don’t float

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Living a healthier life through

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Fresh eggs don’t float

“A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.”

– bernard meltzer

It’s true, fresh eggs do not float.

It’s a quick and easy way to test whether or not your eggs are still fresh. 

Pop the egg in a jug of cold water. If it sinks to the bottom and lies down it’s fresh as they come. If it sinks but stands on end it’s still fresh and good for eating.

As the egg ages it will sit higher and higher in the water, so if it floats to the top it’s not fresh at all and so you might want to consider discarding it.

Why is this? It’s because of the amount of air in the egg. When eggs are super fresh they have just a tiny amount of air in, but then over time the amount of air in there increases, and that is what makes it float in the water.

Don’t just throw away your eggs just because you THINK they’re not good. Test them first.

Pinterest for meal planning

Pinterest for meal planning

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Living a healthier life through

better nutrition

How to use Pinterest for meal planning

“I cook and I really believe in the family dinner, I think that’s a nice time to bring the family together.”

– Gwyneth Paltrow

Deciding what to feed the family every day is tough. It often feels like a thankless task and you end up sticking to the same faithful meals you have always made because sometimes that’s just easier. 

If you know the family will like it and won’t moan you’ll keep on making it. Isn’t it getting boring though? Wouldn’t you like some new meals in your life, and meals that everyone is happy to try? Here’s an idea for you to put a bit of life into your meal planning for the week, and get the family involved.

Pinterest is one of those sites where I could lose hours of my life if I’m not careful, but it’s great for getting ideas together in one space, and finding new ideas. There are so many recipes on there, and here’s where you can use Pinterest to help you refresh your meals and step away from the same old same old.

First, why not create some boards for meal ideas.

Boards are like folders where you can save groups of ideas. 

They are personal to you, and you can call them whatever you want. My own Pinterest account has boards such as ‘Slow cooker recipes’, ‘veggie ideas’, ‘packed lunches’ and even the very fabulous ‘pies’ board. They are really easy to set up, and then as you scroll through posts you can add meals you like the look of, saved for trying when you are ready.

Searching for ideas is simple too – give it a go. Search just the word ‘chicken‘, or try ‘quick dinner ideas‘ (in fact, just click those words – I’ve already searched them for you). You’ll be amazed at how much is there to inspire you.

I like the idea of going one step further and get the family involved. Set up a board and share it with your family members. You could call it something like ‘Dinner this week’ and then add the meals you decide you would like to cook for the week so that everyone knows what will be on the table, or you could ask everyone to add one or two meal ideas each and share the planning. You might find they are really keen to contribute, which then takes some of the pressure off you.

Thank you so much to my friend Lyndsey of Lyndsey Smith Photography for this idea. I shamelessly pinched it and absolutely love it!

Once you’re confident and in the swing of things you could contribute your own recipes. If you find a recipe on a website that you want to save you can also pin that directly into your Pinterest board to link back to. You could add your family favourites, or recipes that you create. It’ll store it somewhere safe for future, and it’s fun to see how many people pin your ideas to their own boards. There is the option to keep your boards secret, so if you just want somewhere to store recipes but don’t want to save them, that’s fine too.

If you find an account that you love you can choose to follow them, just like you can on Instagram. Go ahead, set up your Pinterest account and have a look at some accounts and ideas that you like the look of.

Be warned though, before you know it you’ll have your recipe boards plus a heap of ideas for the house….. and shoes…….. and hair…….. and holidays…….. and the garden……….

References and Links:

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/