The 12th October marks the start of National Nutrition Week 2014. This year’s theme is ‘Cook, Eat, Enjoy!’ so instead of relying on take-away or pre-made meals, we are challenging you to cook nutritious meals from scratch.
Cook: Develop skills and confidence to cook meals from scratch. We place a strong emphasis on choosing budget conscious meals with a focus on seasonal variety.
Eat: Appreciate the tastes and textures of wholesome foods.
Enjoy: Experience the celebration, social and emotional connectedness that food brings.
Ever gone to the grocery store and filled your trolley with various food items, and then come home with no idea what to cook?
Ever thrown out food because it has spoilt and you haven’t had the opportunity to use it?
Becoming an effective menu planner takes time and a little effort – two things that can be hard to find at the end of a busy day. To give you a hand, we have put together a few tips to help get you started on the way to being an effective menu planner.
Other than avoiding wasting food, other good reasons to menu plan include:
1. Saving money!
Menu planning allows you to be efficient with the meals you prepare and minimises your food waste. Only buying the ingredients that you need to follow your meal plan will help ensure you are less tempted by the supermarket sales tricks, which encourage you to spend extra money on items you don’t really need.
2. Better nutrition
By planning meals you can have a look at how much of the five food groups you require daily and how you can fit these into your meals. By eating a variety of foods from each of the five food groups ensures you get all the nutrients you need.
3. It makes shopping easy!
Once you have a menu plan in place, make your shopping list, and then you can plan your track around the grocery store so that you don’t miss items or have to back track through the maze of aisles. You will save time and energy - winning!
How to start a menu plan
1. Jot down the days of the week – starting from the day you usually go grocery shopping until the next. If you shop once a week you will need a 7 day meal plan, however if you like to shop every 2-3 days you will only need to plan a few days in advance.
2. Start with a protein component – meat, chicken, fish, eggs and decide when you will have this for lunch or dinner. Choose if you will have vegetables or salad with this meal. Consider a carbohydrate like bread, wraps, pasta or starchy component like rice or potato to accompany the dish. Finally – what will you snack on during the day? A piece of fruit, raw nuts or a dairy product are easy to have at work and require no preparation time in the mornings.
3.Once you’ve got your menu sorted, write your shopping list. Start with the vegetables aisle as this is usually the entry point to the supermarket. Then work your way around the store, grouping foods where they will fall in the supermarket. If you’re shopping for a family, ask them for their input into the meals that they would like during the week.
4. Shop, eat, enjoy!
Remember – it may take time to get into the swing of menu planning, but you will benefit greatly from the rewards.
To get you started or for more recipe ideas and our ready-made menu planning tool, visit www.healthyfoodhealthyplanet.org.
Use the hashtag #CookEatEnjoy to join the conversation and share your meals on social media.