Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tips for Menu Planning and Making Your Macro Life Work

Many people struggle with the challenge of “what to eat.” Most people who are interested in plant-based nutrition want to eat in a healthful way, but figuring out what to eat to create a balanced, satisfying meal can be stressful. Menu planning is especially tricky for people who are new to plant-based diets. Add in a full-time job, family, and our hectic daily schedules, and menu planning can start to seem impossible! This is why I have learned to plan ahead when I am cooking and to make a little extra so that I consistently have good food at home. This is the most practical and low-stress solution to the problem of “what should I eat?!” While fresh homemade food may be the most desirable, there will definitely always be a special place in my refrigerator for left-overs!

Here are my best tips for figuring out “what to eat” and planning ahead:

As someone who practices macrobiotics, there is an orderly progression to my meal planning. In fact my description of the macrobiotic way of eating is that “macrobiotics is the most well thought out plant based diet”. All of my meals are centered around grains and grain products. When trying to decide “what to eat,” I always decide on the grain dish first. I also always include one or two separate vegetable side dishes with every meal. After deciding on my grain dish, I decide which vegetable dish I would like to have with my meal. I also try to include a serving of vegetable soup once each day, and one or two bean dishes or bean product dishes (such as tofu or tempeh).

When I make a grain dish, I am sure to make enough for at least 2 days, possibly 3 days. Cooked whole grains and some cracked grains will hold good energetic value for up to three days at a time (meaning they will provide you with good energy). They can also be turned into other dishes; for example, leftover rice can easily be turned into fried rice, soft rice breakfast porridge or a rice pudding dessert.

When you cook beans, be sure to make enough for a few days. You’ll find that the flavor of your bean dishes actually improves the second time around!

When you make a vegetable soup, make enough for several servings and simply re-heat what you need without boiling.

Vegetable dishes can be slightly tricky. Vegetable dishes that take longer than 10 minutes to cook will usually keep for 2 to 3 days. Lightly-cooked vegetable dishes, such as blanched, steamed, or sautéed vegetables, only have a 24 hour window before their energetic value declines, so be sure to eat them before they lose their zip! Obviously, raw salad needs to be consumed before the wilt sets in. For the most optimum balance try to include a light vegetable dish with every meal. These light veggies provide
your body with a refreshing quality that will help to keep you more hydrated and make you to feel less pressured.

I hope that these guidelines for eating leftovers will help make your life easier.

And if you feel like you could use an extra helping hand, I regularly create custom menu plans for my clients. My menu plans are created especially for each of my clients, taking into consideration the client’s health, lifestyle, and daily schedule. Please contact me for more information if you are interested in discussing a menu plan!

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