Plan and Prepare a Weekly Menu that Includes Healthier Meals
I used to be pretty good about planning meals a week at a time. A long time ago I went through and made a list of our favorite and most-eaten meals. I have to say though, we've had to stop eating a lot of those things though because our budget just couldn't afford them. It's cheaper to buy things we eat regularly and use them instead of buying random things here and there for other meals. Does that make sense?
I do my grocery shopping on a weekly basis, so in the past, I've made my meal plans based on what's on sale and what we already have. I admit that most of our food is processed and packaged and just plain unhealthy. Isn't it terrible that the most processed foods are cheaper while the healthy, even organic, alternatives are more expensive. Somehow that doesn't seem right. Anyway, I find that meal planning helps me create a list of the items I need, and in turn I'm more likely to stick to the list instead of going to the store and buying whatever sounds good. I'm also more likely to make dinner instead of going out to eat if I know what's available to cook and I know that I have everything for it.
We don't eat out a lot, and when we do we always use coupons or discounts to bring down our cost. But of course, there's always room for cutting out the eating out part of our budget. Really, I'd say we eat out maybe 2 or 3 times a month. But even only 2 or 3 times a much isn't great. It's much more expensive and usually filled with an exorbitant amount of calories. I'd like to cut it down to only once a month, at the most. A step further would be only for celebrations (anniversaries, birthdays, etc) if desired. I don't want my children growing up eating only french fries and chicken nuggets. So here's how I'm moving forward:
- The grocery store sales start on Wednesdays here, so I spend Tuesdays going through the ads, and making my lists. At this time I will also make my weekly meal plan.
- Within 4 months (by the end of May), eating out will be cut down to once a month. By the end of the year, eating out will be cut down to only at times of celebrations. This excludes traveling, but only when packing our own meals is unrealistic.
Plan At Least 2 New Meals Per Month
I'm very bad about getting into a rut and eating the same things over and over each week. I get tired of it and I feel bad for my husband because he's probably getting tired of it too.
- Go through my cookbooks, the recipes stored on my computer, and any online resources to find recipes that sound good and that I'm willing to make.
- Compile these recipes into folders on my computer, for easy access.
- Print out a blank monthly calendar on which to write meal ideas/meal plans
Create a Cleaning Schedule
I've become a slacker when it comes to housework. I want to have a clean and pleasant home, really I do. But it's so much more fun to play around on the internet or spend time with my son. I don't want to waste my son's childhood cleaning because I'm afraid someone will see the dirt and dust. My apartment is lived in. Real people live here and *GASP* my child makes messes! I can clean up nicely though - when I have expected guests, lol!
That said, my home still needs to be a little cleaner. I love walking into or waking up to a clean home. I just love the feeling and the spirit I get from knowing that everything is in it's place. I hate waking up in the morning to my son's toys scattered about or trying to make dinner knowing that every single dish is sitting in the sink. I just hate that feeling.
I could use nap time to clean, but I usually have to spend that time cleaning myself, rather than the house. And by the time bed time rolls around, I'm so exhausted that all I want to do is sit on the couch and write blog posts. So, the only other option is to take time out of playtime and spend some time cleaning. My son is getting older and is getting MUCH better about playing on his own for short periods. So I think I'll have to take advantage of that fact.
- Set aside a week to do some deep, "spring" cleaning to get it all done.
- Using a calendar or spreadsheet, create a schedule to maintain the housework, so that it doesn't pile up and become unmanageable.
- Set aside an hour each day (can be split up) to get housework done.
Focus on a New Fruit or Vegetable Each Month
I have a hard time eating fruits and vegetables. I think it's the texture. Unfortunately I think the lack of healthy foods is what's gotten me to the point I am now with my weight. Even more unfortunate is that I think I'm passing on my dislike of fruits and vegetables to my son. Understandably, I think it's the texture that he has issues with. So hopefully, if he sees me eating them, he'll learn to like them too. He needs more than pasta and cheese in order to grow up healthy and strong.
- Learn what fruits and vegetables are in season when and use that to cut costs while focusing on them.
- Decide on 12 fruits and 12 vegetables to focus on and find recipes that are healthy and that incorporate the chosen fruits and vegetables.
- Let my son see us eating the fruits and vegetables and offer them to him at meals also. I need to be more diligent about offering them to him. He LOVED the purees, so I may need to go back to pureeing and slowly add in more chunks for him.