Does this sound familiar? You rush in the door at the end of your busy day, someone asks what’s for dinner and you open the refrigerator door. You stare into it hoping that an idea for a meal will pop out at you. Inevitably, though, you pick up the phone and order takeout, cringing when the person on the phone recognizes your voice and knows exactly what you are going to order. This scenario happens to many people and is exactly the reason why takeout is so popular in this country. We are so rushed with everything else going on in our lives that we don’t think about eating until it’s too late. If you wish to get out of this rut and start making healthy meals at home take heed in knowing that it is possible. It just takes some planning. Here are a few ideas to help you get started: Turn a List into a Plan: Make a list of recipes you like. Look through your favorite cookbooks and create a list of the ones you and your family love, are healthy and are not too time-consuming. Post this list on your refrigerator. From this list, create a dinner schedule for the next Monday-Thursday. Shop at the store from this schedule and make sure you are stocked by Sunday. Pre-Prep: On Sunday night look at the schedule and see what’s on the agenda for Monday. Pre-prep as much of the food as possible. Trim meats, chop vegetables, gather spices. The next night when you fly through the door you will be very close to a cooked meal with the prep already done. Then, after dinner either before you clean up or maybe later right before bedtime, prep Tuesday’s meal. Pre-prep may sound like a pain, but the payoff is huge. Once you get into the routine of pre-prepping it will be well worth it. Pre-Cook: Another option is to pre-cook part of the meal the day before. Meats usually take the longest to cook in most meals. If you cook the meat beforehand, meal prep becomes a matter of cooking vegetables or whatever else goes with the meal. Some of our clients pre-cook large quantities of meat and store in small containers in the freezer. Other clients cook entire meals and freeze them. This is the best way to eliminate cooking hassles each night. However, it does require reserving large amounts of time before hand to cook the food. Different strategies work for different clients. Hopefully these ideas give you a good ‘meal planning’ start. As with everything we teach, start small. Perhaps next week you will just plan Monday’s meal and wing the rest of the week. The next week add in Tuesday, and so on.