What if I told you there is one very simple thing you can do that can help you stick to a healthier lifestyle? And it also saves money and time? There is, and it’s the act of planning out your meals for the week or any given period of time. I personally meal plan for Monday through Thursday and then again later in the week for Friday through Sunday.
When you take the time to sit down and plan out your menu for the week, you are less likely to make last minute unhealthy choices. It can also help with those impulse buys. The sweets or salty treats are less likely to find their way into your cart when they are not on the list. Also, by having your dinners planned out for the week, you are less likely to find yourself ordering pizza at the last minute because “OMG its 6 and what are we going to have for dinner?!” (Yes we have ALL been there! But the end goal is to limit the amount of times that has to happen). Incorporating variety is easier when you’ve planned the meals out in advance. There is nothing worse than eating chicken breast for 5 days straight. Blah!
Where to begin:
- First, pour yourself your favorite hot beverage (ok not a necessity but helpful and delicious). Also if meal planning is something you dread, it can help to pair it with something you enjoy (for me that is a perfect cup of hot coffee, or maybe a matcha latte.)
- Grab your favorite pen, notebook and planner (if you are old school like me and still use a paper planner).
- Next, you need to take stock of your kitchen. I like to sit at my kitchen table when I plan. It helps to be close to the fridge and pantry for easy double checking on ingredients.
- Find your inspiration. Grab your favorite cookbooks and open your browser to some cooking websites. Great ones are Skinnytaste (her new cookbook, Fast and Slow, is pretty great), Clean Eating Magazine (and their website, however their website tends to be glitchy for me) and Cooking Light (both magazine and website).
- Eating healthy can get expensive. Pull up your grocery stores sales flier online and check if there are any great sales (For example my store happened to have some good bargains on meat this week, so I planned my meals around them).
- Pick your proteins. It is helpful to first pick out your proteins and then plan your meals around them. I usually like to try have 2-3 poultry based meals, 1 red meat, 1 pork, 1 fish/shellfish and 1 meatless. That way we get a variety, no one gets bored and everyone’s favorite gets served.
- If you load your carbohydrates around your workouts, it’s a good idea to figure out in advance what days you plan to work out so you can plan your carb heavy meals accordingly.
- After you’ve picked out your recipes and meals, make a list of what you need and head off to the store. I find it helpful when I write my list to keep everything in categories. Since the produce section is the first section I hit, all the fruits and veggies are first. Then it’s the meat counter, dairy section and anything I might need in the aisles. That way I am not roaming up and down every aisle being tempted by the all the goodies.
Do you meal plan in advance? Any favorite tips of tricks? If you are still confused, and don’t know what type of recipes to be looking for what you should be putting in your cart fill out a contact form and we can start working together.