I love the quote by Benjamin Franklin, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” To be successful with healthy eating, you must take the time to plan.
Planning your meals will make it easier to stay consistent with your diet especially when life gets tough.
And consistency is the key to success.
Follow these steps once and you won’t need to put too much effort into planning your meals:
1. Write a master list of 14-21 healthy and balanced meals (including healthy fats, carbohydrates, and proteins) that you can rotate weekly. Include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks in your master meal list.
Look online for ideas and recipes. A few places I search for recipes are: Pinterest; Skinnytaste; Peace, Love, and Low Carb; and All Day I Dream About Food.
Write or print the recipes and organize them in a binder or in Evernote. I’m sure there are other programs you can use, I use Evernote, and it works great for me.
Once a week, search for new recipes to add to your master meal list. This will add variety to your meals, and introduce you to new ingredients.
2. Plan your meals for the week. Look at the healthy meals list you created, and choose the meals you plan to make. If you don’t have time to cook meals during the week, then schedule one day a week to prep your snacks and meals.
For example, if you have an afternoon free on Sunday, wash and chop the produce you are planning to eat and cook in the upcoming week. Cook the meats and meals, and store them in the refrigerator or freezer.
Make a batch of protein pancakes and a frittata, and alternate eating those for breakfast throughout the week. This will make meals easier to grab and go, and give you extra time in the mornings and evenings.
I buy frozen chopped onions and green peppers for its convenience. It is more expensive than fresh, but it saves time when I make my meals. I also buy frozen cauliflower when I want to make “rice” or “pizza crust.”
3. Write a master grocery list of foods that are healthy and that you enjoy eating. Every time you write your grocery list use the master grocery list and your planned meal list as a guide. You can take it a step further and write a list of foods you want to try and add one new item to your grocery list when you shop.
4. Write a plan for when you need to eat out whether it is unexpectedly, such as forgetting your lunch or a last minute business meeting, or for social situations. Include a list of different cuisines or restaurants and the foods you can eat from those establishments.
For example, if you go to an Italian restaurant, what are some meals you can eat? Also, plan for happy hour, what drinks fit into your healthy eating lifestyle?
The planning might seem excessive, but once it’s done it’s easy to maintain and refer to when life gets crazy. And let’s face it, we all have those days when it would be easier to stop by a fast food drive-thru on our way home from work.
If we have our meals planned for the week, and better yet already prepped, then it should take little time to prepare a healthy meal.
Do you have a similar strategy for planning your meals? Is there anything you would add to my list to make meal planning better?