5 tips for healthy meal planning with Chef Jen

Jen Plaggemars, Chef Jen
Jen Plaggemars, of Chef Jen LLC

By Jen Plaggemars, private chef, registered dietitian and owner of Chef Jen LLC

Even if it sounds like a chore, it’s a huge timesaver to sit down once a week and make a menu for the following week. You will find satisfaction in knowing what fresh and tasty meals you will be having for dinner each night!

1. Spend some time each week looking for recipes

This is a pretty simple task these days with the help of social media sites like Pinterest as well as cooking blogs. Browse through cookbooks (either your own or from the library) and bookmark recipes you would like to try. And let your kids help with this too — they are more likely to try the food if they were able to provide input.

2. Write down your menu

Once you’ve figured out your menu for the week, write it down. You can do this by using a planner, calendar or a notes app on your phone. I write my menu on a chalkboard in our kitchen so we know which meals we are having each day.

3. Choose a shopping day and make your shopping list

Separate your shopping list into sections — fruits/vegetables, dairy, noodles/rice, meat, seafood, grains, canned items and miscellaneous. This way, you can make it through the grocery store and/or farmers market much faster. Or, try online grocery delivery — a great option for busy weeks.

4. Shop seasonally

Not only do seasonal fruits and vegetables taste better, but they are cheaper. Once I get my fruits and veggies home, I wash and chop them as soon as I can so they are ready to go. I use chopped fruit for topping cereal and yogurt, or I freeze some to throw into smoothies. Prepped veggies are great for snacking, roasting and grilling, or adding to sauces and soups.

5. Keep your pantry and 

fridge well-stocked
Prepping meals is so much easier when your pantry and fridge are well-stocked with your favorite spices, oils, vinegars, sauces and condiments. I also recommend keeping fresh citrus fruits and herbs on hand to use for making vinaigrettes and adding brightness to roasted veggies, meats and fish.

Remember, meals don’t have to be complex. Use these tips as a building block and let your creativity shine!

Chef Jen