Menu Planning for Healthy Eating

We’ve all been there: It’s 5:30 p.m. on a weekday, you just got home from work, you’re sapped and stressed from a long day and a frustrating commute, your stomach’s growling—and you reach for something quick. A bag of chips, a handful of candy . . . whatever’s in reach will do. But if you’re trying to feed your family (and yourself) nutritious foods, or if you have fitness or weight-loss goals, this mindless emergency snacking won’t do at all.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. Stocking up your pantry and refrigerator with a variety of healthful ingredients and planning out the week’s meals in advance will leave you with better options at your fingertips—so salty, fatty, and sugary packaged foods won’t beckon to you the second you walk in the door.

By mapping out a week’s worth of meals at once—on the weekend, or any day when your schedule is flexible—you can incorporate a wider range of different foods into your diet over the long term. In this way you can help your family get all the right nutrients, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and avoiding those that should be limited, like fat, cholesterol, and sodium. And if you plan ahead, when you aren’t already famished, you’re likely to make smarter, healthier choices.

Although there are many benefits to preparing meals at home, it can be difficult to get into the habit when you aren’t accustomed to cooking all week long. Let Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, help you get started with this free web seminar at She’ll cover everything from drafting shopping lists to properly storing foods and introducing new foods your whole family will enjoy.