photo from Debbie Carlos

Note from Design Mom: While I’m busy with the move to France, I’ve got a crew of talented Guest Moms filling in for me. Today’s post is from Brooke Reynolds of inchmark. Enjoy!

January has come and gone and so have most of our New Year’s resolutions. One thing we’ve been working on at our house is living a healthier life. That includes exercise, sunshine, and good solid nutrition. And a big part is eating our meals at home.. with our family, around our dinner table. After trying several different things, I’ve come up with a solid approach to meal planning that works for me and I thought I’d share. We try to eat at home most nights, except on the weekends. I like to do my grocery shopping on Mondays so I have a solid plan for the week. And the grocery shopping goes much more smoothly when I have a thought out grocery list.

When I was in high school, my dad used to pay my sister and I to do the grocery shopping. We had six kids in our family and we bought a LOT of groceries. My dad created a grocery list that listed every item we regularly bought by aisle, so my mom would just mark what she needed. My sister and I would tear the list in half, each grab a grocery cart and spend about an hour shopping, each ending with our carts piled high. I remember lots of strange looks from the cashiers when we would check out.

I use a simpler list, organized by store. My main shopping happens at the grocery store, but I do midweek runs to places like Costco or Trader Joes. We also have a great little market called Henry’s where we buy most of our produce. When I sit down to plan our week on Mondays I write down what we’re having for dinner each day at the bottom of the list. I’ve found that shopping for four meals works well.. inevitably something will come up during the week, so if I plan five meals one always ends up being bumped.

I grab my favorite cookbooks and my recipe file and mark or pull out the recipes I’m using that week. (If I’m pulling a meal from a cookbook, I’ll note the book and page number next to the meal to help me remember. If it says AB pg. 24, I know that means it’s from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, page 24.) I keep recipes in lots of different formats, 3×5 cards, tears from magazines, recipes I’ve printed from websites, and I just store them loosely by category in a big file (main dishes, desserts, etc.) so I can flip through them quickly. The grocery list and all the recipes I’ll be cooking get clipped together and hang on the fridge so everyone can see what we’re having for dinner that week. It also helps to have a list right in front of me so that when I realize I’m out of eggs, I can just grab a pen and add it to the list for next week.

If you think this system might work for you, you can download the grocery list here or one you can edit here. It prints two side by side on letter size paper. I print 20 or so copies at a time and then cut them down the middle and store them in my kitchen drawer.

As a mom, I’m understanding more and more that it is my responsibility to teach my children about healthy eating. The habits they learn as children will be the habits they have as adults, and who has more control over what food comes into a house than the person buying it at the store? My parents taught me good habits as a child, but over the past few years my dad has gotten really serious about studying nutrition. I’ve been encouraging him to start his own blog so he can share all that he’s learned with the rest of us. It’s now up and running and it’s called Word of Wisdom Living. This is a nonprofit blog, there are no ads and nothing is for sale. It’s becoming a real community, with people asking questions and sharing what works for them.

In January he started one year of “Healthy Changes”, one small thing you can change in your diet or lifestyle each week. He’ll post a new one each Monday for the rest of the year. So far these have touched on topics like soda, fried foods, exercise and vitamin D. You can even download a little reminder card that you can hang on your bathroom mirror to help you remember. He’ll also be reviewing some of his favorite health books, sharing nutritional blogs and medical journal studies, and some of his favorite healthy recipes.

I know that I am biased, but my dad is a really smart guy. I think we all could learn a lot from him. Here’s to a healthy 2011!