Meal planning and prep saves time on busy weeknights, gets a healthier meal on the table and helps reduce food waste. Today we get meal planning and prep advice straight from the experts – Toby Amidor and Jessica Levinson – as we discuss their new books, smart tips to get you started and answers to my recent dinnertime struggles.
Plan with a Workbook
Jessica offers some tips, hacks, a seasonal fruit and vegetable guide, and most importantly her meal planner templates. The templates are a place to write down breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the entire week.
“Leftovers and planned-overs reduce food waste…you don’t have to start with a fresh new meal every time.” – Melissa Joy Dobbins
Jessica likes that it’s pen and paper so she and her family can go back and reference her plans. They can easily see at a glance what items were hits and which ones were misses.
Small Steps for Meal Planning Success
It may seem daunting to plan for an entire week but if taken in steps, it doesn’t have to be. Check your fridge and pantry for the items you have on hand, that way you’re not starting with an empty slate. To simplify it more, begin with one meal a week or only dinner for the first week.
“A recipe is a template and you can make it what you want.” – Jessica Levinson
Once you get into a routine you can start looking at Pinterest and blogs that you like, recipes and magazines for inspiration. Jessica incorporates theme nights such as Meatless Mondays and Taco Tuesdays. Wacky Wednesdays are leftovers or just a hodgepodge of whatever is in the fridge at the time.
Don’t Be a Short-Order Cook
Just because you have picky eaters doesn’t mean you can’t cook one meal. To please everyone, make sure to have at least one item on the menu that each person likes. You don’t want to stand over the stove making multiple meals each night and you don’t want to have to meal plan for multiple meals.
Meal Prepping for the Week
You don’t have time to take all day to go food shopping and prep…divide it into two days of the week…especially for fresh fruits and veggies. – Toby Amidor
Toby Amidor’s new book focuses on meal prepping for beginners with 5 steps from start to finish. Ingredients are weaved into the meals throughout the week. This will reduce your food waste, time spent prepping and your shopping list.
If you are trying to use what you have in your freezer, Toby has some tips for thawing your food. First, you don’t want to thaw and refreeze. It increases the chance of foodborne illness and the food loses its quality.
Take the food out and place the items in the fridge the night before you use them. Don’t stack them together, keep them separated so they defrost easier. For something like a turkey, you will need two days.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN is a nutrition expert and Wall Street Journal best-selling cookbook author of The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook, The Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook, Smart Meal Prep for Beginners, and The Greek Yogurt Kitchen.
Jessica Levinson MS, RDN, CDN is a nationally recognized nutrition expert with a focus on culinary nutrition and communications. She is the author of the 52-Week Meal Planner: The Complete Guide to Planning Menus, Groceries, Recipes, and More.
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Music by Dave Birk
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