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Meal Planning Made Easy – Three Styles of Healthy Supper Meal Planning Print

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Connie uses the term “hangry” to describe the time in the late afternoon where she arrives home from work feeling angry as a result of being too hungry. Salty chips or crackers could be inhaled in minutes with enough calories to qualify as a meal. Fatigued from the day and being unmotivated to cook led to suppers full of convenience foods or as simple as a bowl of cereal. Connie was tired of feeling tired and knew she needed to stop procrastinating shopping and cook healthier fresh foods. She learned the trick was scheduling a firm grocery shopping day and preplanning simple nutritious meals she could prepare quickly.

Regardless if you are cooking for one, a newlywed couple sharing meals or have a large family to feed, a little goes a long way when it comes to meal planning.

Why meal planning is time well spent

couple preparing a meal togetherGood for your health and waistline

It is no surprise that the old saying by Benjamin Franklin, “If you fail to plan you are planning to fail,” applies to health, nutrition and weight management.

Having even a simple meal plan, especially when it comes to supper, is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Over the years when I ask our clients “What is for supper tonight?” the vast majority of people do not have a clue so it is no surprise this is often the most stressful meal of the day.

Without a plan in place it is easy to go for fast food and packaged foods that may not have your health at heart. Late in the afternoon is a time of day where energy levels are often depleted, blood sugars are low and the ability to think of creative ideas is hard. Without planning, key ingredients may be frozen instead of thawed, staple foods needed to cook basic recipes may be forgotten or fresh foods may be rotten when you go to use them.

Good for the planet and your budget

One-third of food produced for humans (1.3 billion tonnes) is wasted somewhere along the food chain each year (The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2011).

In Canada per year, an estimated $27 billion in food ends up in the landfill and composting. This is approximately 40 per cent of all food produced and two per cent of the GDP. Fifty-one per cent of Canadian waste directly comes from food thrown away in Canadian homes (Food Waste in Canada, Value Change Management, Nov 2010).

Canadian households are preparing or cooking too much, not using food in time and being unsure of how long to keep leftovers. Since food waste creates higher carbon and methane there is economic and environmental benefits to wasting less food.

Three meal-planning styles

The Geek (Structured Meal Plan)

The Geek loves planning ahead, finds comfort in structure and enjoys organized regimes. The Geek shops once a week and would be attracted to apps that have a grocery shopping list or developing a reusable list of all the foods they want to have on hand. They have busy schedules, are good time managers and supper plan for the week to match their schedule. They cook in batches and like freezer-friendly recipes such as soup, stew, casseroles and more. The Geek would be apt to pre-chop raw veggies for the week and prepare a part of a meal or an entire meal that could be eaten the next day to save time.

The Maven (Sometimes Meal Plan)

The Maven uses a mix of structure and spontaneous meal planning. Often the Maven would enjoy planning three or four general supper themes for the week, such as one of the following themes (vegetarian, fish or seafood, poultry, and meat theme). The Maven may instead pick broad themes such as “Meatless Mondays, Seafood Sundays or Family Favourite Fridays.” The other unplanned supper meals would be for quick grabs such as fast breakfast-for-supper options, leftovers, eating out or something spontaneous.

The Enthusiast (Spontaneous Meal Plan)

The Enthusiast lives by William Cowpers quote, “Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavour.” The Enthusiast would find planning supper for the week suffocating as they enjoy spontaneity. Opposite to the Geek (who plans-then-shops), the Enthusiast shops-then-plans. The Enthusiast appreciates what is seasonal and fresh and will start meal planning with this in mind. Grocery shopping and farmers market trips with an Enthusiast are usually not a chore, but an adventure. They are foodies that allow their senses to inspire the menu. Enthusiasts are creative and can substitute and adjust recipes on the fly. They enjoy the flexibility of knowing they are having seafood or chicken for supper today or tomorrow, but how it will be cooked and what it will be served with will be decided at the time of cooking and what is in the fridge ready to be used.

Wondering which style of menu planning works for my family? We use a combination, as there are benefits to each. We have a reusable grocery shopping list for staple foods and take advantage of cooking in bulk for freezer-friendly meals. We aim for a fresh fish or seafood meal on farmers market days and do our best to have meatless Mondays. Considering we are foodies, we love the flexibility of letting what we see at the farmers market inspire the menu for the week.

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Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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