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Money Saving Meal Planning

Posted Feb 19 2009 6:19pm

wendyb It’s back to work after an awesome long weekend - I think I really needed that extra day!

To kick things off this week I wanted to let you in on a special treat.

I’m excited to share a wonderful course with you that I think will help you save money during these tough economic times, not to mention help you feel healthier.

My good friend Wendy Battles (One of the sweetest ladies I know!), owner of Healthy Endeavors, is a health coach and optimal health expert. She’s offering a home study course called Money Saving Meal Planning: Quick, Healthy and Delicious Meals on a Budget.?This is the perfect class to take if you’re challenged by any of the following:

  • You spend too much money at the grocery store.
  • You let food go bad even though you have good intentions of using it.
  • You’re out of good ideas for simple meals to make for you and your family.
  • You don’t plan meals consistently even though you know you should.
  • You’re not feeling your best and a lot of it has to do with what you’re eating (or not).
  • You’re sick and tired of both the financial and health impacts of not having a game plan.

If you’re the least bit stuck with meal planning, this is the course for you! I encourage you to learn more about the program and if it at all interests you - sign up today! You won’t want to miss this. And guess what else?  You can easily make back the cost of the class with all the money you’ll be saving with all the tips and strategies Wendy goes over in her simple and sustainable course.

Simply click here  to learn more about Money Saving Meal Planning and sign up today.

I also had the honor to interview Wendy and was able to squeeze a few golden secrets out of her.  Check it out below.

        
 

Marci:  Hey everybody, this is Marci Lall back with another expert interview. And, today I have a special opportunity to be talking with Wendy Battles. Wendy is the owner of Healthy Endeavors, which is a health coaching and consulting firm. She basically infuses her interactive and engaging presentations with fun, humor, and a host of important information to get her participants into action.

Wendy also loves inspiring women to take their Health to Heart™ as a health coach and optimal health expert. She helps overcommitted, stressed out, less than healthy women to slow down, tune-in, and reclaim great health, setting them up for success in all parts of their lives.

With a personal mission to help reduce the rate of heart disease, which is the number one killer of women, she’s inspiring one million –that’s right, one million – women to Take Your Health To Heart Challenge, which can be found at www.takeyourhealthtoheart.com. In addition, she has a fabulous blog which I highly recommend you check out, which is at www.dontworrygethealthy.com.

 So, with that said, I’d like to welcome Wendy to the call! Wendy, how are you doing today?

Wendy: I’m doing great, and I’m really pleased to join you today and talk a little bit about helping people get healthy!

Marci:   Indeed. Well, today we’re actually going to be talking a little bit about meal planning, which is one of the biggest factors in terms of getting someone healthy. So, let’s just start off Wendy, we’ll get right into it. 

Just in terms of meal planning in general, we’ll kind of take the listeners and the readers through the whole experience. Let’s just take a simple person who is going to be looking in their fridge first, and just kind of seeing “You know, I really don’t have anything to eat.” What’s the first thing they’re going to think about in terms of starting off and being organized with the meal planning?

Wendy: It’s a great question. It’s funny because many of you might think that the first thing we want to do is rush out to the store and buy a bunch of things up, or maybe even do some planning to figure out what we’re going to have. But what I always like to talk about, Marci, when I’m working with people around meal planning, is helping them really think first about their mindset.

So, there’s four steps I like to think about when it comes to meal planning:

The first one is helping people identify “what is my mindset about meal planning.” So for example, some of us think that planning meals every week feels like drudgery – like it’s a lot of work. Or that it’s not fun. Or “it’s hard for me to plan out my meals” because, well maybe some people are very spontaneous and they want to be in the moment and eat what they might be inspired by, and if you do a lot of planning it kind of spoils that. So, I think it’s really important for all of us. Because I think in the end, the key thing about meal planning as a key component to a healthy life – so obviously with a lot of exercise, and eating well – but meal planning really helps us support doing some of those other things. Our mindset, though – as Marci I know you know – says so much about how successful we end up being. If we have a negative mindset about it, if we’re not crazy about doing it, if we feel like it’s a lot of work, if we feel like it takes too much time, then often we end up with results that reflect how we’re thinking about that. I think it’s really important for people to begin to identify “what is my mindset?” and “what, if anything, can I do to change that so that I can think more positively about the whole endeavor of beginning to create meals consistently?”

Marci: Now, just in terms of mindset, how does one get that positive mindset? Because, sometimes, it is hard to create a meal and sometimes women in general have so much other things to do – household chores, looking after kids, going to work and coming back from work, you know what I mean?

Wendy: Oh, yeah. 

Marci:  You’re pretty, pretty tired by the end of the day, and that’s going to be the last thing. They’re probably going to pick up something from the fast food restaurant rather than focusing on getting that mindset set. So, how can they develop that positive mindset and what kind of steps can they take?

Wendy:  I want you to think about this, Marci and everyone that’s listening, as developing your mindset is like building a muscle. I’ve told Marci before about how when I was growing up I wasn’t really that athletic, even though things have changed now, but I had to get better at it. How did I get better at it? I practiced it! I became more aware. This is the same thing with our mindset. Our thoughts have such an impact on how we feel about things and the results that we get.

So part of it is really tuning in to what we’re thinking about meals and meal planning. And, what I mean is, when we get more quiet – I know that many of us are in a rush all the time, I certainly know that I am in my life often far too much – but when I have a chance to get quiet and get into what I’m actually thinking and what’s going through my head, I can get more tuned to my negative thoughts vs. positive thoughts.  One of the things I think is that when we can become more aware of what we’re saying about meal planning, like “I don’t really want to be bothered with that tonight,” obviously that’s a negative thought. Or, “that’s the last thing I feel like doing!”

I think the key is, when we can become more aware of what we’re actually thinking about it, that’s when we can begin to turn it around. One simple example is coming up with a very simple affirmation, or a positive statement that we can say about meal planning. For example, when I take the time to plan healthy meals for me and my family, we all feel better and we have a lot more energy. Or, just by taking a few minutes, I feel better, I feel lighter; I’m much more likely to eat well throughout the week. So whatever it might be, just by coming up with a statement that resonates with you, that you can write down and focus on just to begin to shift from the negative of “I don’t even want to be bothered with that” to “you know, there’s possibility in me just doing a little preplanning, good things can happen to me when I do that.”

Marci: Ok, now in terms of the affirmations: would someone want to write them down or put them somewhere where they’d want to see them daily?

Wendy: I think that it’s the kind of thing we can do whatever works best for us. So, I do really well writing it down and putting it up. I have these little note cards that say “Believe” on them, and I put them in my bathroom and bedroom. I think that’s definitely an option to write it down – whatever will make it present for people is I think what’s key. 

The other thing is that I also like to do a lot of visualization, so I think another possibility is just visualizing and really feeling yourself, you know, just sort of knowing how it feels when you’re taking great care of yourself. How you feel after you’ve eaten a really healthy meal and you’re full of energy. So instead of having that afternoon slump that people sometimes get, and I’m sure come to you and talk to you about Marci… I’m sure they’re like “you know, I was at my desk falling asleep at work yesterday!” So instead I like to visualize and really feel that feeling of feeling great after a meal - feeling like you ate something that was beautiful and healthy - and the result that you get when you do that.

Marci:  Ok. That’s some good tips right there. Very nice… writing down a visualization, that’s nice. So, we just created our mindset, we have a positive mindset, what’s the next thing that we need to do?

Wendy: The next thing is that we need to clean and purge. I think it’s really critical that each of us give our kitchen a facelift. By a facelift, I’m not talking about expensive thousands-of-dollars remodeling, that’s not really realistic for me and I’m sure a lot of other people either. But, what we can do is really create a space in our kitchen that’s inviting for planning out healthy meals and for actually preparing them. What I really mean by that is going through out refrigerator, going through our pantry, really beginning to identify what’s in there. Are they shelves dirty? Do we have food that’s old, that’s moldy, or gone bad? Do we have food in our pantry that we’ve bought and never used? I know that sometimes I would buy things on sale thinking that it’s a good value, but of course it’s not when you don’t end up ever using it. So, there’s so many ways where we also often waste money and going through the refrigerator and pantry allows us to create a nice, clean, fresh space. It’s almost like feng shui for our kitchen: when there’s less clutter, when we can actually find things, it does help us save money. If we always have a refrigerator that’s stuffed full of stuff and we push old stuff to the back and we never use it, we end up wasting that food. We often end up wasting produce especially because we buy it with great intentions, it looks so nice and fresh, and we get busy and we forget. A week later it’s like “Oh! I forgot about that lettuce!” or that cucumber that’s now liquefied from four weeks ago. 

[laughter]

It’s just not inviting. 

Marci: Uh, I can’t get rid of the mental picture!

[laughter]

Wendy: Yeah! Can’t you see that!? It’s not inviting to see all that stuff. So something as simple as going through with a  simple process to clean your refrigerator and pantry, setting aside some time to do that when you have a couple hours to focus on that. And, then making it really fun: playing your favorite music, invite a friend to do it with you, engage your kids, smaller kids. Not when they’re teenagers, but younger kids really like to help out and it’s a great way to involve your family from the beginning in creating this healthier lifestyle. I think that creates the foundation for us to be able to move to the next steps and do more of the planning. 

Marci:  Now in terms of the purging and cleaning the kitchen in general, how often would someone want to do that?

Wendy:  That is such a fantastic question. If we’re trying to stay on top of it, and we’re trying to do maintenance, I recommend just once a week to clean up the refrigerator. And by clean-up, I don’t mean that every week you have to take out all the shelves and wash them, because if we stay on top of it there’s going to be less mess. I think they key thing is really keeping track of what you have that’s fresh that you need to use up.

Marci: More like fruits, vegetables – that type of thing.

Wendy: Exactly. Or, leftovers if you’ve made a dish and then you have leftovers. I’m in the habit of trying to eat those leftovers the next day or the day after that –within a couple days. Because then after that I forget and they get stuck in the back of the refrigerator and we sometimes end up wasting it. 

Marci: Right; and you’re like “I’m not going to eat that anymore.”

Wendy: Yeah, exactly. I think that if we can do… for example: me, Sunday is my day to go through the refrigerator to see if there’s anything I need to get rid of. Also, what we may want to talk about too, is if there’s a way to quantify what you’re throwing away, because this is also about awareness. I do a lot of teaching people how to save money by planning meals and part of that is really getting in the rhythm of figuring out “how much am I throwing away every week? Do I have certain patterns? Am I throwing the same kinds of things away? What do I notice about this?” Just getting in the rhythm of going through every weeks helps us tune into our own patterns, so that way we’re more likely to be able to make a shift or do something about it. 

Marci: Yeah, I think once you’re a little bit more aware – that you can see “oh, I’m not eating this as much so why am I buying it?” And in the end you’ll save yourself more dollars anyway.

Wendy: Exactly.

Marci: No use in picking up something that you’re going to throw away, right?

Wendy: Right. You got it.

Marci: I like that. Ok, so let’s move on. The third one!

Wendy: The third one is getting ready to plan. So it’s about shopping lists, it’s about items for the pantry, and creating a healthy meal planning resource guide.

So, we’ve talked about cleaning out the pantry, and as we clear out the pantry part of it is putting aside things that you bought but never used that perhaps you can give away to a food pantry or a local church or somewhere where they could really use that. There’s really no point in keeping it if we’re not going to use it, it’s just creating more clutter. I like to apply the rule that if I haven’t used it in the last six months - just like with my clothing if I haven’t worn it in six months – I’m probably not going to use it.

We’ve now done that, so now it’s about beginning to think about some basic things to stock the pantry with that help us make quick and healthy meals. A couple quick examples: canned tomatoes (I like to buy canned organic tomatoes), organic beans (that come already canned that we can use for some quick and simple meals), chicken broth and vegetable broth are great things to keep on hand that lend themselves to low-fat and quick and healthy meals. I like to stock the pantry with appropriate things. I also like to have a healthy shopping list so I have a shopping list that I use (and I use it with all my clients and people who are part of my meal planning class) and basically it’s only healthy things.  [Laughter] No candy bars, no cookies, no chips, nothing like that – just healthy things. It’s a quick and easy form you can just check off the things that you’re going to pick up. It’s a way to jog your memory about including a wide variety of especially fruits and vegetables and get the whole color spectrum in, so that’s key.

Then the third part is – first the pantry list, then the shopping list – and the third part is creating a resource guide. In this guide, they are going to put together the shopping list, the pantry items, the meal planning forms (that we’ll talk about in the next step), and they also put together their favorite recipes. I swap it out seasonally, but the whole point is to have things at your fingertips, as opposed to “I don’t know what we’re going to have tonight or tomorrow or the rest of the week!” If I can have this guide together, with my shopping list and some simple recipes in it, and I can just do the planning in an easy way, I’m much more likely to do it consistently.

Marci: Yeah, I think that takes away a lot of stress too, by just figuring out what you’re going to eat… and then you have to get this, you have to get that, and then you have to go here, go there. So I just think it organizes a little better rather than just doing it on the fly.

Wendy: Exactly. You got it. So, just beginning with the end in mind – it’s something that simple. It’s the same thing we do in other parts of our life, and we’re just taking the same principles and applying it to our healthy sustainable eating.

Marci: Ok. So now the last step, what do we have to do for the last step?

Wendy: That’s really simple. The last step is we’re now putting together all of these pieces – we’ve thought about a mindset and we’re shifting that, we have worked on cleaning out our space, we’ve begun to put together some of the tools to do this more consistently, now we’re ready to do some planning.  I have a form that I use with my clients that gives them the broad spectrum of the week. Thinking about every meal for seven days, and I don’t mean that you have to know exactly what you’re going to eat for every meal, but just some general ideas. So there’s flexibility and shifting things around, but that you have a general blueprint for the week of… Monday night we’re going to have baked chicken and some sautéed collard greens and brown rice. And that leftover food we’re going to eat the next day for lunch or the next day for dinner. I always had this idea of cooking once to eat at least twice.

Marci: Yeah, that would save you a lot of time.

Wendy: I’m busy; I know that people that are listening are really busy too with limited time, so it’s always about how can I use the minimal effort for the maximum benefit. Just like you probably do working with your clients: how can I get the best workout?

Marci: In the minimum time.

Wendy: Exactly! That’s what I’m always thinking; exactly! The same concept, it’s really a way that we do the planning for the week thinking about all the meals and that’s when we also have a chance to look at how balanced the meals are. When we say meal, what do we mean? Usually some protein, I would have at least one serving of vegetables in a meal often two, maybe some kind of complex carbohydrate like brown rice or quinoa, a little side dish. You know, healthy things. 

Marci: Now, just in terms of when you’re working with your clients, do you have any clients who have kids?

Wendy: In fact, I do!

Marci: Younger kids, who are a little bit more picky and things like that? How do they work around those barriers?

Wendy: Yeah, well that’s such a great question and in fact I do. And, I know it’s hard, so I hear a lot of moms telling me that one of their kids eats everything but the other is very picky. This whole challenge of who wants to cook multiple meals when you already have limited time? That is a challenge! There is a couple of things to that point. One of the things when I teach my Money Saving Meal Planning class, one of the things we talk about during week three is “what are the foods you and your family love”.  Number one, helping people, especially a family, to identify the foods that everyone likes. And then thinking about “how can we build in some healthier things?” so we also have health self-assessment – a real simple form – people can fill out to figure out if they’re eating enough fruits and vegetables, if they’re drinking enough water, where is a gap and where are they doing really well. That informs their thinking; because when it comes to kids it’s about “how can we become creative with this?” and work on healthy meals in a way that’s engaging for them.

I’ve had really good success when moms work with the kids and make the process more fun and get them involved in preparing some things and taking some things they like and introducing in some things kids haven’t had before. Part of it is variety, and  also as parents it’s about our own approach to making meal planning and eating more fun. If it’s like “oh you probably won’t like this but it’s really good for you” what are our kids going to think?

Marci: Oh, you told me I’m not going to like it, so I’m not going to like it!

Wendy: Exactly! You know, it’s going to take a kid five seconds to get “oh, I’m not going to like this.” Even if we don’t say it directly, you know kids are so intuitive they can pick up on this. It’s also why our mindset is so critical because I know sometimes we may be cooking for ourselves but it’s very different if we’re cooking for a family because there are more people. I think that’s why a mindset is just as important when there’s a family because they can pick up on some of these things. There’s a way that we can make it more fun and engage them and I think that’s part of the key. The other part is you may – I don’t know if you’re familiar with this book, Marci, called Deceptively Delicious –

Marci: Uh, no.

Wendy: Ok. So this is a great tip for your listeners. It’s a book by Jerry Seinfeld, you know the comedian, his wife wrote this book. And it’s all about how you can make these different vegetable purees and hide healthy things in other dishes.

For example, you could make a butternut squash puree and add that to tomato sauce. 

Marci: Yup, ok.

Wendy: Something like that is just a handy little tip that will make it a little easier for moms. 

Marci: So we moved through all those four steps in the meal planning process. Now, how long would you say this usually takes? Or, is it a little different for everybody? Because I know creating that meal planning mindset is going to be a little different for everybody, as well as cleaning and purging the kitchen. But, how long should it take someone to go through all these four steps?

Wendy: Such a good question. And, I think what you’re already hinting at is that it depends. It depends, because each of us are different – some of us are more efficient, some of us want to get it done, the rest might want to think about it more thoroughly, or just take more time doing it. I think in terms of the mindset piece of it, that’s really hard to put our arms around. How long it takes for me to shift my mindset might be totally different for you, and that’s something that comes with time. I certainly think, though, that when it comes down to the specifics of cleaning out the kitchen that’s something that you can do - depending upon what state it’s in - it’s something you can do in a couple of hours. 

Marci: Ok

Wendy: And, for example, a lot of my friends that live in New York City that are single they say “I don’t really have any in my refrigerator because I get a lot of take-out.” Or, they don’t have a lot of storage space. So it’s a little different than a family of four or six where you have a fully stocked pantry, and you have a huge refrigerator – so I think that’s going to vary. I would say within a few hours you should be able to go through that process generally.

Marci: Ok.

Wendy: And, then in terms of the weekly planning – once you begin to get things together and have some tools at your disposal, then the planning itself that you do every week is not that complicated. It’s something that you can do in… I can do mine in fifteen to twenty minutes every week. Now, that doesn’t count going to the grocery store, but just the actual planning – fifteen to twenty minutes to plan out a weeks’ worth of healthy meals because I have these tools at my disposal. 

Marci: Yup, and I guess in the long run it’s going to save you so much time during the week because you already have that blueprint to look at.

Wendy: Exactly.

Marci: Well, Wendy, did you have any other tips or strategies that you wanted to share with the readers and listeners? 

Wendy: I would say that one other thing I would share is finding a buddy to do some of this. So, if you are the kind of person… just like I find it really helpful to exercise with my husband because we motivate each other, we go to the gym, we work out in the weight room together. I don’t really like doing cardio, but it’s really fun if I have someone to talk to – or that kind of thing. This is the same thing with meal planning, think about who you know who has great recipes that are simple. And send an email to a bunch of friends asking them to each share three different recipes.

Marci: That’s a good idea, yeah.

Wendy: You’re making it simple and fun. Do some cooking with one of your close friends that you don’t see that often anymore. A great example is that my friend Renee, who only lives a mile away, we don’t see each other that much. So once a quarter, we plan a get-together where we spend the day together and we’ll pick out several recipes – especially this time of year, soups and stews – we’ll get the ingredients and we’ll cook together. And then we split up all this bounty at the end. It’s fun, we’re focused on healthy foods, and at the end there’s all this great stuff that we can share. 

There’s just some simple ways that we can make meal planning a lot more fun and it doesn’t mean that we have to do it all ourselves. So whether they’re friends, or family, co-workers – you could do an exchange with co-workers, you can each commit to making a dish that’s healthy. You know, make it over the weekend and bring it in on a certain Monday and then splitting it up. So, if there’s three or four people, you can leave with three or four different things. 

Marci: That’s some awesome advice.

Wendy: Why not make it a little more fun and interesting. And if people want more information they’re welcome to check out my meal planning course!

Marci: And where can people check that out at?

Wendy: They can get more information at www.moneysavingmealplanning.com . They can learn about my four-week home study course where all those things that we just talked about today are really high-level. The course goes through all of that in great detail with CDs, learning guides, step-by-step instructions to really…

Marci: The whole enchilada

Wendy: Yeah, the whole enchilada to create that simple system.

Marci: Awesome. Well, Wendy, I’d like to thank you once more. I know I only said it’d only be a five to ten minute interview, but we went way above that. But, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to talk to us and giving my readers and your readers a couple of extra tips to get on the ball for the new year. So, I love it, and I really want to thank you very much for coming down. I appreciate it!

Wendy: Oh, it’s been my pleasure! And I look forward to doing it again!

Marci: Oh yes, absolutely, we’ll have a whole hour next time!

Wendy: Sounds great, Marci!

Marci: Alright, and everyone who is listening be sure to visit that website at www.moneysavingmealplanning.com as well as www.takeyourhealthtoheart.com as well as her fabulous blog at www.dontworrygethealthy.com. Marci Lall, signing off! Take care everybody.

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