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http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-hand-writing-list-front-open-fridge-image21748014By: Dr. Natalie McCulloch ND

A wise patient once told me if you ‘fail to plan, you plan to fail’.  This really stuck with me and has been my motivation to ensure I take the necessary steps to meal plan each week.  It became evident to me that despite having all the elements to create healthy meals, if I did not have a plan my veggies would go to waste and I would be looking for takeout menus.  By meal planning, I save time, energy and money each week.  I have also become inspired in the kitchen and find myself experimenting with new recipes and get excited about the meals ahead.  Here are some tips that have really helped me stick to my health goals and ensure a stress free week in the kitchen:

1- Pick out 6 dinner recipes for the week: Use your favourite cookbook, healthy food blog, Pinterest account, whatever you need to collect 6 recipes ( I plan for leftovers one night or for a dinner out)

2 – Create a grocery shopping list: Look at all your recipes and create a shopping list based on that

3 – Start preparing your meals: When I get home from the grocery store, I start preparing some of my meals for the week.  If I have picked a stir-fry for dinner one night, I will chop up all the veggies and then all I have to do the night of is cook, not prep. If I choose a slow cooker recipe, I will prep everything and put it in the slow cooker and place that in the fridge until the day that I am going to cook it.

4 – Don’t stress about breakfast and lunch: I usually will have a staple brekkie – smoothie, vegetable omelet or something that is easy and doesn’t require me to think about it too much and for lunch I just pack dinner leftovers, so all I have to think about mid week is dinner…makes my life so much easier!

Some of the things that I make each week in addition to my 6 dinners include:

–          Chopped veggies for quick snacks
–          Gluten free muffin recipe or homemade protein bars for a healthy treat
–          A soup or chili (to add to lunches if leftovers are sparse – if I don’t use it, I just freeze it for future use)

In total it usually takes me about 30 minutes to pick out recipes and create a list and 2 hours to prep all my meals.  This saves me so much time and energy mid week and ensures I have a week full of healthy nutritious meals.  Happy Planning!