Over the past year, I’ve had many conversations with people who are desiring to eat healthier but don’t know where to start. A couple common questions are, “How do we begin making this lifestyle change?” and “Do you have menu plans?”
Where to start? My first response to this question is stressing the importance of reading labels on the items you currently have in your pantry, spice rack and refrigerator. If you’re like me, you might be surprised by the ingredients in some of the items you assumed to be healthy. Gradually replace these items with healthier products as they run out – this would include spices and condiments. See page 18 of our book, Eating Pure in a Processed Foods World® for more suggestions.
Getting into a healthy routine and making this a lifestyle change is easiest when you have a menu plan. I know for myself, “life happens” at our home and it’s much easier to make it through those times if I’m following a menu plan. Below is an example of a menu plan for one week. I’ve included the shopping list for these meals and am excited to hear how the meal plan works for your family!
Weekend: Food Prep!
I like preparing my stock Chicken Stock and Broth (pg. 158) over the weekend because I have more time to do it, and it helps with meal preparation. On Friday night, I place my chicken in a slow cooker to cook through the night. I also soak my beans (pg. 121) on the counter that night. (Making use of the overnight hours will make more free time on the weekend.)
On Saturday, I cook the soaked beans while I’m deboning the chicken. I use some of the broth to make a double batch of Cheesy Potatoes and refrigerate the rest of the broth for the White Chicken Chili.
*Make ahead tip*
Make two pans of Cheesy Potatoes (bake for 30 minutes, cool and put in the freezer)… it’s the same prep, but you just reduced the cleanup for yourself and have one for future use!
I prep as much food as possible during the weekend for the week ahead. This includes chopping the veggies for Monday’s Stir-Fry, browning the hamburger with seasonings for Tuesday’s Taco Salad, making the Meatloaf/Meatballs (freezing them raw) for Thursday, and making the Summer Garden Casserole (bake for 30 minutes, cool and freeze) for Friday.
Short on time?
If you’re short on time, buy organic chicken broth, canned beans, and chicken breasts for the week. You will still be feeding your family healthy meals. The shopping list DOES include all the ingredients for making your own broth and beans.
Monday: Italian Chicken Stir-Fry (pg. 170)
Normally, I like to use fresh cubed chicken to cook in my stir-fry. But if you really want to save on time, use the chicken you already prepared on the weekend. Simply cook the prepped veggies and toss the chicken in at the end to reheat!
Tuesday: Gluten Free Taco Salad
Taco salad is a great meal that everyone can make individually with the toppings of their choice… a big bonus in my eyes when you have a family with lots of taste preferences! And, it takes just a few minutes to prepare the toppings while your meat is reheating. It wins in every category – nutrition, time and taste!
Wednesday: White Chicken Chili (pg. 121)
YUM! Use the beans, chicken and stock prepared earlier to make this recipe.
Thursday: Easy Meatloaf/Meatballs and Cheesy Potatoes (pg. 184)
This is a home-run meal in my family! Simply thaw and bake; and add a vegetable, or two, and you’re set!
Friday: Summer Garden Casserole (pg. 91)
Thaw, bake and enjoy a delicious “meal-in-one” dish!