In Canada, the month of March is Nutrition Month. As promoted by Dietitians of Canada, registered dietitians nationwide amp up their nutrition support this month to remind Canadians about the importance of eating healthy and the positive impact it has on all aspects of people’s life.

This year’s theme is “Best Food Forward: Plan Shop Cook Enjoy” to encourage Canadians to make healthy choices at the grocery store. Grocery shopping is one of the key ingredients to meal planning. To make meal planning a breeze, practice these three important tips.

The first tip is to identify the upcoming week’s meals and create a master meal plan. Create a grocery list by checking the kitchen’s inventory (the refrigerator, pantry and cupboards). Identify what meals are convenient to make ahead of time and freeze them. Think about what day it is possible to do the entire prep (washing, cutting, dicing and seasoning) for a meal, and then toss the ingredients in the slow cooker for a quick and easy feast that evening.

The second tip is to check out the local flyers for the master meal plan. Using the grocery list from the first tip, check out the local flyers (paper or online) to see what is on sale. Most stores will now do price matching so the shopping can be done in one place.

The third is to make meals fun and try new recipes. Get the family involved to teach the kids the kitchen basics while making meal times more fun and less of a chore. Preparing more meals from scratch will decrease the amount of processed foods (remember the 80–20 guide from the Health Promotion Part One post) and will reduce the grocery bill, too.

Now make meal planning with barley a breeze. Add a new barley meal each week for the next month. For breakfast try this simple Slow Cooked Barley with fresh blueberries and pecans. For lunch enjoy this Hearty Chicken Barley Soup. For an afternoon snack with a glass of milk have two Apple Sauce Raisin Cookies. For supper try this delicious Barley Casserole.

Dietitians of Canada Nutrition Month Campaign Website accessed February 25, 2013