Archives for June 2016
Everyone has to eat, but knowing what to eat isn’t always easy. That’s why I love Gatheredtable. It makes eating well easy to do no matter your schedule.
Healthy, homemade meals are my favorite. As a dietitian and mom, I love the challenge of discovering new recipes that not only provide my family with the nutrients and energy they need for successful days, but ones they actually want to eat again and again.
It sounds easy – like I have it all figured out – but believe me, I don’t. Even as a dietitian, my kids are kids, making decisions based on their limited life experiences and preferences. Like every other kid, my boys tend to like simple and sweet offerings more than complex or bold ideas.
My foster kids – well, they really like the sweet stuff. In fact, when I asked what their favorite foods were on the day they arrived, the oldest told me very decidedly that her top three foods of choice were “honey, sugar, and candy.” No, she’s not Buddy the Elf, but she does come from a different home with different rules and different foods.
Sometimes, I need fresh inspiration. Foods I like aren’t always what those around my table like and with even more diverse taste preferences surrounding me these days, its incredibly helpful to have a variety of simple meal ideas at the ready. That’s where Gatheredtable comes in.
Although there are many different meal planning resources online, Gatheredtable has quickly become one of my favorites. Curious why? Here are my top 6 reasons for loving this meal planning site:
Recipes are real-life ready. This is a big deal. Real-life ready recipes? Are you kidding me? Anyone else have a hard time finding recipes online that they would actually make? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found beautiful food photos only to be accompanied by unrealistic and super long ingredient lists. I love that Gatheredtable keeps their recipes simple and to the point. This means I will actually make the food I see, and for a meal planning service, that’s a pretty important feature.
Ingredients are easy to recognize BUT may push your food boundaries just a bit. Recipes on Gatheredtable aren’t just easy to follow; they also rely on familiar ingredients. This means I can rest easy knowing that I can find the necessary foods each recipe requires in my grocery store. In some areas, you might be able to even order your foods directly from Gatheredtable thanks to their grocery list feature.
The work is done for you… sort of. Half the battle of getting dinner out on the table is planning (or lack thereof). Gatheredtable allows you to easily identify recipes for the week, add them to your meal plan, and create a grocery list. The only thing you have to do is buy the ingredients and make them.
With their handy mobile app, you’ll even be able to take everything with you to the store and into the kitchen. This means you always step into your kitchen with a plan and will hopefully have more time to spend enjoying the meal versus fretting about what you’re going to make in the first place.
Meals will become more enjoyable. With much of the pre-dinner work done, you’ll hopefully be able to relax and enjoy the meal a bit more. I know this is the case for me. There is a HUGE and noticeable difference in my attitude on nights where I have a plan versus those I don’t. Just ask my family. They’ll keep it real.
You’ll be less likely to eat meals out, and eat more meals at home. Another reason to love the art of meal planning – you’ll get to eat more meals at home. This not only saves you money but allows you to eat better too. Meals out are often higher in sodium, sugar, and fat; ingredients that can slow you down versus fuel you up.
You’ll actually make these recipes… wowing your friends and family. I’ve had the opportunity to review a few different meal planning sites and for the most part, they often have many of the same benefits in common. Why? Well, because they give you tools to plan out dinner and that’s pretty useful for the majority of us.
Related: Kati’s Meal Planning Routine
But what really stands out for me when it comes to Gatheredtable is the simplicity of their recipes. I love the inspiration that more complicated recipes provide, but when I’m planning out real-life meals for everyday of my week, I just want simple, no-fuss ideas. I call these “real-life” ready recipes and Gatheredtable is my go-to source for those. Like me, I think you’ll actually make these recipes, not just pin them for later.
Gatheredtable’s meal planning services aren’t free (sadly) but they are affordable. Plus, if you stick to it, odds are good you’ll end up saving money by eating out less and eating in more.
Related: How Gatheredtable Pays for Itself
Want to try Gatheredtable out? Try it free for seven days! And if possible, I’d love to hear all about your experience!
Disclaimer/disclosure: Affiliate links to Gatheredtable’s website are included in this post. Photos were made available to me by the Gatheredteam; however, I was not financially compensated for this review or asked to share my opinions. These opinions are uniquely mine and based on my own user experience with Gatheredtable.
Planning out meals at the beginning of the week not only helps my family eat more meals at home, but it also helps keep meals affordable and timely.
If you’ve been following along, you know I’m a big fan of meal planning. Not the kind of meal planning where you get stuck on the details, but the sort of planning where you get your basics covered, yet leave a little room for flexibility and fun.
Taking the time to plan prevents some of those “oh shoot, we have to eat” moments – ensuring that your cupboards have some nourishing foods at the ready no matter what life throws your way. For me, having dinner ideas at the ready really does help reduce in-the-moment stress and never lets my family get overly hungry while I try to mull over what miscellaneous ingredients I could throw together for a meal.
My meal planning routine is rather simple, but effective. Curious how I make it work? Here are a few of my favorite meal planning techniques to get you started.
Start with one meal. I’ll let you in on a little secret… I never plan out an entire weeks worth of meals. Nope. Never. Instead, I focus my attention on the meal that needs the most work – dinner. By having a plan in place for this meal, our family doesn’t stress out about what to eat or waste time trying to figure out what ingredients might go together. Instead, we’ve already done the leg work – allowing us to get out the door quicker if we have to or spend more time around the table when our schedule allows.
Want to have more meals at home consistently? Give focused attention to the 1 meal needing the most work. https://t.co/FRu8sItxiY
— Kati Mora MS, RDN (@KatiMoraRD) June 26, 2016
To start meal planning successfully, it’s helpful to identify which meal might benefit the most. Depending on your schedule, you may even have just one or two nightly meals that really need some work. Focus your attention there. The small amount of time you spend planning for those meals ahead of time will be worth the investment, trust me.
Don’t forget your food groups. Once you’ve decided which meals to plan, it’s time to start identifying which foods will make up that meal. Since I’m trying to feed my family of four with nutrition in mind, I often plan meals around the basic food groups. If I can get three different food groups in, I consider that a meal time success. This week, I planned out the following meals:
Grilled BBQ Chicken + grilled Balsamic glazed Eggplant and Brussels sprouts with feta cheese = lean protein + vegetables + dairy
Spaghetti sauce + lean ground beef + spinach + grain pasta + leafy green mixed salad = protein + vegetables + whole grain
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Curry = whole grain + vegetables + protein
Scrambled egg + spinach + onion + Bell pepper + cheddar cheese = protein + vegetables + dairy
And my husband planned out one… Hobo dinners. If you’re not familiar, a hobo dinner is a tin foil wrapped meal you cook out on the grill or over a campfire. Our hobo dinner typically includes lean ground beef + onions + Bell peppers + potatoes + cheese = protein + vegetables + grain + dairy
This planning style ensures we have a strong meal structure in place, but still allows for flexibility. If we have extra ingredients on hand, flavorful herbs or spices, or need take the flavor profile up a notch by making a few tweaks, we can do that. But no matter what, we’ve got a pretty solid start.
Check your phone. Over the past few months, Aaron and I have been taking our finances pretty seriously. God has blessed us both with jobs and opportunity, and we both felt pretty convicted a few months ago to stop wasting the financial resources we’ve been blessed with. That means I’m always on the hunt for a good deal. Thanks to apps like Ibotta and Checkout51, its easy to save a few extra dollars here and there. Of course, this means planning discounted items into your weekly meal rotation. And be careful – sometimes you’ll still save more money by buying the generic brand at the store or skipping the deal all together. Only use discounts on foods you’ll actually utilize.
Keep your plan visible. After I’ve planned out my meals, bought the ingredients I need, and submitted my receipts for rebates, it’s time to put those meals into action! I find it helpful to keep the list on my fridge so that in case I forget what I planned (which I often do), I can quickly refer to the list.
Meal planning can serve as a great tool to help you eat more nutritious, affordable meals at home. I hope you’ll enjoy the process. And of course, if you have any meal planning secrets, I’d love to know all about them!
Disclaimer/Disclosure: A referral link to the rebate app, Ibotta, was utilized in this post. For more information on Ibotta’s referral program, visit the Ibotta website.