Our Blog

Meal Planning During a Pandemic

by | Apr 21, 2020

Staying Healthy During a Crisis

Whew! We’ve made it through our 5th week of quarantine! I don’t know about you, but I’m torn between wanting to celebrate, and knowing that I need to mentally hunker down for the foreseeable future. Planning for meals and fitness during a pandemic crisis has been a huge challenge.

Getting into a groove with this new way of life is like riding a wave. One day it’s amazing having the kids home and happily playing outside, and the next everything is crashing down around me. Some days we get into a rhythm and it feels manageable and the next day we are in full-blown survival mode and I’m racing out the door for a run or walk or anything to escape the chaos.

On the one hand…I love my family and right now we get to spend more time together. And on the other hand…we are ALWAYS TOGETHER! And sometimes we all just need a little room to breathe.

One of the hardest parts about this quarantine business has been trying to establish a routine that keeps us all healthy. Our once-a-week movie night and turned into 2-3 times a week, which means the expectation of more treats and “fun food” is high. And often the treats don’t make it to movie night cuz…well…stress eating while homeschooling has been a real thing over here.

SO…we started implementing some simple tools to help us get through this pandemic with a little more sanity intact. That doesn’t mean we still don’t have our moments where we need some space, but having a routine that includes making healthier choices is just better for everyone…especially having a plan around dinner.

5 Tips To Meal Planning During a Pandemic

1 – Focus on what you can control instead of stressing over things you can’t control. Grocery stores might not have every ingredient available, so be prepared with a couple of easy swap options. For example, chicken for pork, or asparagus for green beans, etc. If you’re planning a taco night, but meat is hard to come by, get some canned beans or lentils instead and season and cook them the same way you would cook ground beef!

2 – If you can’t buy fresh, buy frozen! Frozen fruits and vegetables hold the same nutritional value as fresh, so if your recipe doesn’t require produce to be fresh, buy frozen…which gives you even more time before heading back to the store. 

3 – Plan a months worth of meals before you go shopping. Yes this takes a little more time, but it is SO worth it! The goal in this social distancing is to stay at home as much as possible, so by planning your meals for a month and being ready to purchase meats and non-perishables that will get you through an entire month, you’ll only need fresh foods and a handful of supplemental items the next time you go. Which means you’ll go less often, and spend less time at the store. If you can’t afford a month’s worth of groceries (which is understandable) still create the plan so you only have to go to the store when its absolutely necessary.

Planning a month at a time...✔ saves money…✔ saves time…✔ makes for fewer trips to the grocery store 🙌

4 – Look at what you’ve already got, and build from there. It might shock you to see how much food is hiding in your pantry waiting to be used. Do a quick inventory and check the back of the shelves. Pull out the extra canned food and previously opened boxes of pasta and then get creative. Do you have several cans of beans on hand? Awesome, make a chili, and if you’re really thinking ahead, double that chili recipe to have as a dip for chips, or a topping on a taco salad, or a filling for quesadillas…take one recipe and make it work for several lunches and/or snacks! 

5 – Make it stretch by making extra food everytime you cook. This doesn’t mean you have to have the same dinner over and over again, but you can create variations of the same dinner to make inexpensive foods stretch a little farther. For example, when you make that extra chili, put it on a baked potato for another meal. Or if you make rice with grilled chicken one night, make enough of both the chicken and rice to turn the rest into fried rice the next night. Adding a few eggs and changing up the spices and veggies can turn the same two foods into a totally different meal.

This is our jam! We LOVE taking one meal and making it into two or three…without being boring (because I haven’t met a kid or spouse yet that appreciates eating the same food everyday). Saves time, budget, and sanity…and most of the time, our families don’t even notice.

 You’re Invited!

We’re hosting aMake-it-Stretch Meal Challenge starting May 4th in our private Moms Need Carbs Chat Group on Facebook. We’ll teach you how to maximize your time and money by simplifying the planning process and ingredients (shorter grocery lists).

Spending hours each week scanning through Pinterest with a pen and paper might not be the best strategy for meal planning. My eyes are usually bigger than my abilities and my budget. I end up putting together a meal plan that isn’t realistic and often a lot of the groceries go to waste before I find the motivation to actually try the new recipes.

If you want to make Meal Planning easier, the best way to do that is to SIMPLIFY, rather than complicate it, and we’d love to teach you how. Or maybe you already know and just need a little push to get you motivated (heaven knows we all need that right now).

Sign up for the Challenge HERE so you can get recipes and grocery lists you’ll need. The idea is to save you time and money which means if you really get into this, you won’t need more than 15-30 minutes a week to spend on it!

Join in on the fun…Let’s do this! 

And if you’re late to the party…no worries…just start from the beginning! 

You May Also Like…

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Asian Lettuce Wraps

I have a theory about meal planning and why I find it so laborious... It all comes back to the story of the Little Red...