A meal plan helps make sure you eat balanced and varied meals even when life gets stressful. It also avoids food waste and saves you time and money. Find out here how you can plan healthy meals by following four simple steps.
Step one: find inspiration
You can find delicious recipes for healthy meals not just in cookbooks, but also on recipe apps, food blogs, social media platforms and in magazines. Focus on finding recipes that use a variety of ingredients and cooking methods. With vegetables in particular, include a mix of raw, steamed and oven cooked veg. For climate-friendly eating, you should also choose recipes that use seasonal fruit and vegetables. Take a look at our seasonal calendar to find out which foods are currently in season, as this will ensure your food is both sustainable and wonderfully fresh.
When you're thinking about what to eat it's worth taking a look in your fridge and store cupboard. Is there anything that needs to be eaten soon? If there is you can look for a recipe to use it up.
The following foods should feature particularly often on your healthy meal plan:
Fruit and vegetables
Vegetarian protein sources (e.g. tofu, quark, egg, yoghurt)
Pulses (e.g. lentils, beans, peas)
Rapeseed, walnut, linseed and olive oils
Nuts and seeds
The following foods shouldn't feature too often on your healthy meal plan:
Refined flour products
Hard fats (e.g. butter or coconut oil)
Extra sugar (e.g. refined sugar, honey, agave syrup or syrup)
Keep all your recipes together in a folder or a digital cookbook (e.g. in the FOOBY app) Did you know there's a large selection of recipes on coop.ch? While you're on there you can put the ingredients you need straight into your online shopping trolley.
Step two: write down your meal plan
Schedule about half an hour each week to write your meal plan down. Plan all your meals for the week using your newly discovered recipes and your old favourites.
When you're writing your healthy meal plan, make sure you:
Don't plan a meal every single day
Consciously leave one or two days of your meal plan empty. That way you'll be prepared if you get a dinner invitation or need to use up leftovers from the day before.
Don't give yourself too much to do
If you won't have much time to cook on stressful working days, make sure you take that into account. For days that are stressful choose easy, quick recipes with as few ingredients as possible. Leave more challenging recipes for your days off.
Double up on meals
If you double the quantity of a recipe then you can plan to use the second half of what you've prepared the day after. You could also prepare double of just a part of your meal. For example, if you cook double the amount of oven-roasted vegetables then the next day you can make a Mediterranean pasta salad by adding pasta and feta cheese.
Choose time-saving alternatives
If you don't have time to prepare fresh fruit and vegetables, use frozen ones instead. They're just as good. And instead of using dried lentils, peas and beans you can buy pre-cooked pulses. If you like salad, you can make salad dressing in bulk each week using a dressing shaker. That way you'll always have a delicious dressing in your fridge, ready to use.
Step three: optimize your meal plan
With some simple tips and tricks you can optimize your meal plan to make it balanced and healthy. Plan your intake of these foods as follows:
Peas, lentils and beans are not just climate-friendly options, they are also a source of dietary fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. So try to eat pulses frequently. Lentils make a good side dish in place of potatoes or pasta.
The final step: write a shopping list
As soon as you've done your healthy meal plan, put all the ingredients you need on your shopping list, whether it's paper or digital. Check your store cupboard as you do it, because you might already have some of the ingredients.
Tip: Write the ingredients on your list in the order you'll come across them in the shop. That will save you time when you're shopping.
If you shop online at coop.ch you can save your basket as a shopping list. You can find the lists you've already made under "My lists". You can add to or change your lists at any time, or add the whole list to your shopping basket. All of this makes planning meals even easier.