Long before I got pregnant, I worked really hard at cleaning up our diet. I started researching food chains, ingredients, products, and healthy eating. I doubled my grocery shopping time because I started reading each and every label. It’s been a slow process. And we are still by no means perfect. (if you open my freezer, you will find two pints of Ben and Jerry’s because sometimes you just need ice cream) After I made it through the first trimester and actually started to feel like eating again, I was meticulous about what I ate because what I ate, the baby ate. But for all the planning and preparing, cooking with a newborn is a whole different game. Add cooking with a newborn after you work all day and it makes me tired just thinking about it.
So after one too many frozen pizzas, I decided we needed a plan. Eating healthy is not always easy or convenient, but it is a high priority in my life so a meal plan is essential. I have started printing off a blank calendar near the end of the month and meal planning for the entire month. I have done it weekly as well, but it takes about as much time to do it weekly as it does to do it for the whole month. I usually tweak my weeks throughout the month, but at least I have a general idea of what I am going to make each day. If you haven’t done much meal planning, I have included a few of my favorite resources to help you get started.
What did we do before Pinterest? I use it for quite a few things, but overall my favorite way to use it is for meal planning. We get our meat from a local farmer and so once I have figured out what type of meat we have for the month, I spend time looking for healthy recipes using what we have. Pinterest is great for searching for something specific like “healthy desserts with strawberries” or “crock pot meal using hamburger”. There is also a huge variety of healthy options. You can find my Pinterest boards here and follow along if you want!
I have used this website off and on for a little while. I love the fact they curate a variety of different types of recipes to accommodate different healthy eating styles and different schedules. Do you need a quick meal, crock pot, or something more elaborate? They are all pretty easy to find. You have to sign up for a subscription to use all of their features such as already-prepared weekly plans and grocery lists, but if your pretty savvy you can just clip the recipes and create your own plans.
One of my favorite things about this service is the recipes are seasonal. This means you can prepare healthy meals and lower your grocery bills by capitalizing on the in season produce. This is a subscription service so there are plenty of other free ways to meal plan, however, so far I have been really impressed with the taste and ease of the recipes I have made. One caveat, I tend to adjust the meals to use meat I have on hand to save costs. I also sub ingredients if there is something I know we won’t eat.
CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Shares
Purchasing a CSA Share is another way to incorporate healthy eating into your diet at a slightly lower cost (as compared to buying equal quality items at a grocery store). We signed up for a vegetable share for this growing season with a local farm and I am so excited. First off, I LOVE knowing exactly where the food I am eating is coming from and second, the service you get with a local producer/grower is second to none. We are also have a meat share we purchase from a different local farmer. This past weekend, he hand delivered our meat to our house- talk about excellent service!! Living in Southern Indiana means fewer options for Farmer’s Markets and local produce, but a movement is growing locally and I love being part of it. I am also looking forward to challenging myself to try new recipes with the veggies I get in my crop share.
Odds and Ends
A few other things you need are a crock pot, a willingness to try new things, and a detailed grocery list. The worst thing in the world is getting to Thursday night to prepare a meal only to find you forgot a key ingredient. I have done this one too many times so now my grocery lists are laid out by department. I am a huge fan of meal planning and will try to highlight some other resources I have used in the future. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and I will try to answer them!