Friday, 28 November 2014

Meal Planning is the Answer - Now what are the questions?

I've thought about meal planning so many times. I've even tried it a few times too. When I do it, it seems to work. But I just don't stick it. Sometimes I don't have time to do what I planned. Sometimes I just don't feel like eating what was planned. Mostly it's because I have cravings for food that was not on my list. Or because we eat out. Or because BB is hungry earlier and I haven't cooked yet. Yet it seems that a good number of the challenges I face on a daily basis could be so much easier if I did just embrace this meal planning thing.

For example:

How can I make sure my child gets a good balance of nutrients?
Feeding your child is so much harder than I ever imagined. I am lucky too, BB is generally a good eater. But sometimes I make a meal and he outright refuses to even try it. Often I get the timing wrong and he's hungry before its cooked. Generally I like us to try and eat the same things together, but that doesn't always work. I really need to cut out wheat and sugar from my diet, and though I am more than happy that he eats less of those than the average child, he can have a little of both - in fact it makes it easier in many ways. A very quick go to meal for BB is orzo, with ham cheese and peas - he loves it and its saved us many times - but I really can't eat that! But perhaps sometimes, with a bit more planning, we could have variations on the same meal - I can make courgette pasta for me for example. I know toddlers are notoriously fussy eaters. I also know that if you give them the opportunity to eat a wide range of foods they will self select a balanced diet from that, and learn about food. If I plan for lots of different foods to be on our table over the course of a week, I should have that covered.

How can I reduce our food bills?
I can't believe how much we spend on food. We always seem to be food shopping but it seems there is never anything in the fridge to eat. It's because I don't think about it enough when I shop. I grab things that attract my attention at the time but they don't necessarily go together. Or we nip out for a few things for tonight's meal, and grab other bits we don't actually need while we are there. Or we have a voucher for money off something so just can't resist getting one - even if it's a pack of Smartie Cookies that we would never normally buy! When we move we will have a bigger house, so running costs will be higher,  and although we will save £50 a week on fuel, getting smarter with our shopping is still a good idea.

picture of an empty plate for the #clearaplate campaign
#clearaplate


How can I reduce food our food waste?
I throw out food all the time. Today a mouldy courgette and some festering asparagus tips have gone in the compost bin, having never even been cooked. I cook too much too. Some of last nights potatoes still sit on the baking tray in the kitchen as I type, though they will at least make their way into the fridge of later. I often put too much food on my plate too - never good when you are trying to lose weight, but I don't eat it all. I have become much more conscious of this since attending Blogfest a couple of weeks ago and hearing about #clearaplate. The campaign is designed to raise awareness of food waste and food poverty, as whilst 75% of families in the UK regularly throw food away, 22% of parents regularly go without food so as to feed their children. To raise awareness of the campaign, people are asked to tweet a photo of their empty plate, showing that they didn't waste food. We were each asked to tweet a photo of our empty plate when we had finished our blogfest lunch. The challenge made me be really careful about what went on my plate; nothing that I might not like, and a smaller portion than I would normally have, just to be sure I could eat it all. I should do this more often! I was given a #clearaplate plate! I should use it every day to remind myself.


How can I help myself to only eat the foods that make me feel good, and lose weight?

Having spent so much time looking at the foods I eat and how they impact on my health and well being as well as my weight, I am fairly convinced that if I could just cut out wheat and sugar I would both feel and look better. Yet wheat and sugar are both rife in all those things that are quick, go to foods when you're hungry and you haven't planned anything. The absolute key to my success on the whole30 was meal planning, knowing what I was having the next day was vital. I never did plan a week ahead but I can see that too would help ensure a more varied diet. I still have 12 kg of extra weight compared to how much I weighed before my first pregnancy. I am sick of it. It really is time it was gone and I could stop whinging about it. I have joined the gym and I am exercising a whole lot more, but I have really noticed that how I feel and how much energy I have is very closely linked to what I ate the day before. If it was good food I feel good, if it wasn't I feel sluggish, tired and lazy. To be honest I am sick of hearing myself go on about this - I know what I need to do, why don't I bloody well do it!

So, I'm going to give this meal planning thing a try. A week ahead sounds too overwhelming right now, but three days should be possible, right? Then perhaps I can extend beyond that, maybe even to a whole week for the main meal of the day at least.