Has this ever happened to you? You get so caught up with your work that you completely lose track of time. You look at the clock and what do you know, it’s time for dinner. You quickly come up with an idea but when you check your refrigerator, you are out of some of the ingredients. Not a good start to dinnertime. 

Make stressful food preparations and mealtimes a thing of the past by giving meal planning a try. Limelife Planners has an amazing and easy-to-use Meal Planning Add-on 

The first few pages are dedicated to Family Favorites. Here I like to write down all the foods I like to make. I usually dedicate each column on a page to a specific type of cuisine. There’s a column for Italian dishes, another for Mexican and of course one dedicated to South Asian dishes. If I need in-depth instructions for a dish on this page, I will go pull it out of my recipe box. (I picked up these cards from AC Moore).   

I like to make to sure that I get in my recommended servings of fruits, vegetable, proteins and grains every day or almost everyday, if I’m being honest. To make it easier, I like to include information about the food groups that make up the meal on the Family Favorites page.  

Next to the name of cuisine, I include the nutritional information with color-coded dots. The light blue is for carbohydrates, magenta for proteins, green for vegetables, purple for fruits and orange for fats. For example, Baked Mac and Cheese with Broccoli, includes carbohydrates (the pasta), protein (the low-fat cheese) and vegetables (the broccoli). On the Family Favorites list, next to Baked Mac and Cheese with Broccoli listing, you will find a green dot, a magenta dot and a light blue dot.  

This may seem tedious but it makes life easier for me. When it comes time to plan out the meals for the week, I use the color-coded information to make sure my meals for the week don’t include too many servings of one food group and not enough of another.  

On Friday night or Saturday morning, I like to plan out the meals for the upcoming week. This works for me because I usually go grocery shopping on the weekends.  

Included in the Meal Planning Add-On, you will also find weekly meal planning pages that start on Sunday and end on Saturday. There’s also a handy grocery list column on the same page. I use the Family Favorites to come up with ideas when I’m stuck or if I want to change things up a bit. It’s such an amazing and easy reference tool. 

Once I plan out the meals for the week, I quickly go through the recipe to make sure I have all the ingredients. If I can’t remember the exact recipe for certain dishes, I usually pull out the cards at this point and clip them to the book for easy reference during that week. If I am missing something, I add it to the grocery list.   

Once the grocery shopping is done, I’m ready to go for the week. 

Meal planning is a great way to minimize your stress. It might be difficult to plan out the whole week, so start with a couple of days at a time. If you are grocery shopping on Wednesday, try planning out the meals for Thursday and Friday. You can pick up those missing ingredients during your trip.  

Not only does meal planning minimize your stress, but it also helps you eat healthier. When you plan out your meals for each day, you are less likely to overindulge on calorie-rich foods. I didn’t believe this until I started recollecting at night, what I had eaten that day. I realized I was eating way too many servings of carbohydrates without consciously realizing it. I was eating a bagel for breakfast, followed by pasta at lunch, and then rice and chicken for dinner. Talk about carbo-loading. Once I slowly started meal planning, I was eating better-balanced meals throughout the week.  

Give meal planning a try. It may seem daunting at first, but take those baby steps. You’ll minimize some of the stress and you’ll be improving your health. That’s a win-win.   

This blog post was written by Sadia Chowdhury for the Limelife Planners Media & Creative Team. For more information about Sadia visit her on Instagram @sadias_ruminations. Please share and repost this blog entry with your friends! All we ask is that you give credit to Limelife Planners and the post author.