By DeVry University
Ready to earn your degree, but wondering how you’ll find school life balance in the midst of your already busy schedule?
With a little prep, you can streamline your weekly to-do list by prioritizing and planning for the days ahead. Setting a family meal plan is a great place to start. By outlining your lunch and dinner plans in advance, you can ensure that your family’s health and nutrition needs don’t slip through the cracks when your days get hectic.
How Meal Planning Supports a Healthy School Life Balance
Finding the right mix of studying, working and caring for a family is possible, and following a healthy eating plan can have benefits for busy students. Here’s how:
- It saves you time. With an organized approach, meal planning preserves valuable time that you can use for your studies. Consider the time that goes into deciding what to make, assembling the right ingredients and cooking a meal. Now, multiply that by the number of days you prepare meals for your family. You can save a lot of time by streamlining the process instead of having to repeat it day in and day out.
- It can help ensure balanced nutrition for your family. Creating and executing a meal plan isn’t just about saving time. It’s about providing for you and your family. Meal planning can make it easier to ensure your family is eating well and getting balanced nutrition – making you a lot less likely to stop by the drive-through after a long day.
- It can help reduce stress. When you know there’s a system in place to ensure your family eats well, it takes one thing off your plate. Planning meals in advance can help give you peace of mind that your family and your health are being prioritized.
6 Tips for Easier Meal Planning
While building a healthy meal plan takes some effort, if you plan carefully, you can build a system that fits your life and supports your goals. Here are six tips for creating a plan that works for you.
1. Write It Down
Whatever your plan, put it in writing. Goals are easier to remember and achieve when they’re documented. Take the pressure off yourself to remember menus and ingredients by writing the information somewhere you’ll see it: a calendar, a whiteboard or post-its stuck to the fridge.
2. Borrow From Plans That Already Exist
It can be a little daunting to start from scratch. What should you eat? What ingredients work the best for advanced preparation? How long do planning and prep take? The good news is you don’t have to invent it on your own.
Check out meal planning apps or find ready-to-use resources like this list of printable meal planning templates to jump-start your process. You can also read up on helpful blogs or follow experts on social media. You’ll find useful tips, recipes and even completed plans. Pick and choose from those that interest you most and adjust to fit them to your family’s schedule and preferences.
3. Go Digital With Your Shopping List
As you hit your groove in meal planning, you’ll likely find yourself returning to the same ingredients again and again. Consider creating a reusable grocery list.
Use your smartphone to create a checklist that lets you organize ingredients and mark them off as you find them. Then reset the checklist for the next time you’re shopping. This ensures you won’t miss anything crucial. It also improves efficiency by giving you somewhere to start with each planning and prep cycle.
4. Discover the Magic of Leftovers
Make shopping and planning easier by using key ingredients in multiple meals. For example, if you’re having roasted chicken and rice one night, buy enough for leftovers and serve chicken salad another night. Spinach can be a salad base one day and an ingredient for omelets or soup the next.
As you find recipes you and your family love, group them by common ingredients. This simplifies your shopping and will also help you use up fresh ingredients before they go bad.
5. Choose a Regular Prep Day
A lot of meal prep can be done in advance. The key is to schedule your prep when you have uninterrupted time. Are Sunday afternoons an open time for you? Weekdays after the kids have gone to school?
Save yourself a few steps at mealtime by choosing a window to chop vegetables and measure out ingredients in advance. You can even assemble entire meals for the oven or slow cooker. Just put the ingredients together in containers and store them in the fridge or freezer until needed.
6. Use Planning As an Opportunity to Delegate
Even if you are the primary meal preparer in your household, advanced planning can help take some of the pressure off you. With a little organization, you can involve your family in the process.
Make it convenient for other adults or teens to help by scheduling prep time around their schedules. Even kids can help make dinner – and involving them in the process may just provide more incentive for them to eat it.
Looking for More School Life Balance Resources?
At DeVry University, we offer a wide array of student resources to help you make the most of your study time. Contact us to get started on the path toward pursuing your goals on your schedule.