Your kitchen is safe, uncluttered and organized. Now, let’s turn our attention to maximizing your time and efforts so that you can actually spend less time in the kitchen and get more done in other areas.
I don’t know about you, but mealtimes can be very stressful for me. The very thought of figuring out what to make for breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week drives me crazy, but only when I am not prepared.
What’s the best way to prepare? PLAN. You might think, given all of your caregiving activities, that you don’t have time to plan a menu, but nowadays, I wonder how I survived without a plan.
Advantages of meal planning:
Meal planning saves MONEY–If you purchase groceries based on a menu for the week versus just going to the store and grabbing some items, you will save money. In addition, working your plan, you can eliminate those supposedly quick trips to the grocery store. You know how it is, you run in planning to grab a couple chicken breasts and a frozen vegetable and $60.00 later, you are scratching your head at the cash register. Meal planning helps to avoid that.
Meal planning saves STRESS–If you plan your meals ahead of time, you don’t have to think every day about what to eat. You just execute your plan and if you are a wise planner, then you will work it so that you cook 3-4 meals and eat 6 or 7 times.
Meal planning saves TIME–It saves thought time and preparation time. I made a pot of penne pasta and two sauces. Last night, we had it with white sauce. Next time, we’ll have it with meatballs and red sauce.
Meal planning saves CALORIES–Most of us tend to make better choices when we plan a meal, versus eating out or just throwing something together. When you plan, you can actually be sure you are getting a balanced meal that includes fruits, veggies and whole grains, instead of just grabbing the fastest, easiest foods available.
How to plan your meals
First you have to decide your primary goal. Is it to save money, time or calories or all of the above?
If your goal is to save money, then start with the coupon section of Sunday’s paper and build your meals based upon what’s on sale.
If your goal is to save time, then start with ingredients that can be “recycled” for example, if you have beans and rice today, then another day you can have wraps using the same beans. If you do chicken breast today, then another day you can serve chicken salad. I rarely cook a meal that doesn’t have at least two “lives.”
If your goal is low calories or high nutrition, then build your meals around fresh fruits, veggies and whole grains. It really doesn’t matter which method you use. What matters, is that you PLAN. At first, it might seem time consuming, but you will quickly discover that it will save you time and money.
I generally make a chart that includes breakfast lunch and dinner for each day of the week. In the last column I list the items needed from the grocery store. You can check out an example of my sample-plan-ahead-menu.pdf
You can do this for a week or two at at time. If it seems like too much, start with dinner and build from there. Sometimes, everyone in the house can’t eat the same thing. For example, my mom, might have had a hard time negotiating a wrap, but she could eat the beans and the “fixins” without the wrap.
The bottom line is that planning your meals can save you time, money and stress as you battle Alzheimer’s disease.