Meal Planning Made Easy

Here are some simple tips for Meal Planning Made Easy.  Intending to eat clean, healthy, nutrient rich meals is easy, actually following through is another thing entirely. You know the routine, it is 5:15, you are sitting in traffic and it occurs to you that you forgot to defrost something for dinner.  Add to that, you really do not feel like cooking when you get home. So, you run through the drive through, or call in a take-out order to make life easy.  In one swoop, you just sabotaged your intended plan. All it takes to stick to your plan is a little prep work. These five tips will make your meal planning easy.

Know Your Goals.

Before you can begin meal planning, you need to know what you hope to achieve. Are there nutritional areas you are deficient? Do you need to eat more fruits and veggies, and less simple carbs? Do you have a target calorie count?  Answering these questions will help you better formulate a plan to avoid food cravings and meet your body’s needs.

Create a Master List of Recipes

Now that you have a list of foods you need to eat, or start incorporating into you meals more often, put together a list of recipes that use these foods as ingredients. Go through your favorite cookbooks, Pinterest boards and family favorites to assemble the recipes you can pull from each week, rather than getting into a rut with the same meals week in and week out.  Create a notebook to keep your favorite recipes in one place, along with a spreadsheet for your weekly meal plan.  When you come across a recipe, you want to try, print it out and add it to your binder. Keeping a list will make cooking and shopping easy.

Be Strategic with Your Shopping

Before you head to the grocery or farmers market, look over your recipes and note the ingredients you will need to pick up.  Add them to the shopping list.  Other things to add to your grocery list are your favorite foods, fresh veggies and fruits, proteins and seasonings.  Having these all on hand makes cooking so much easier, and you will not be without a key ingredient for a recipe. Fresh fruits and veggies make easy snacks too, so you will be less likely to grab the junk food.

Prep Ahead

It is easy to get home from the grocery store, put everything away and plan to cut up your veggies or cook your proteins, as you need them. When you do that, it becomes more likely that you will see the work as a chore rather than simply having the foods ready to cook. Instead, set aside the time on Saturday or Sunday to prep the week’s meals. Wash your fruits and veggies; chop up your onions, carrots or peppers, cook up chicken breasts, and put together your meals. This one and done approach takes the extra effort out of nightly cooking and makes cooking dinner easier when you can just grab the diced onions and sliced peppers for a recipe. You can take it step further, and cook your meals ahead of time.  This makes both lunches and dinner much easier during a crazy busy week.  In the mornings, you can grab a premade lunch and stick it in a cooler along with a handful of snacks and your Shakeology. Then when you get home from a busy workday, you can grab a dinner, warm it up in the oven or microwave, and have a quick healthy meal.  When healthy meals are readily available, you will be less likely to eat dinner or lunch on the run.

Avoid Self Sabotage

Ok, you have your meal planning done and prepped. Now you are ready to tackle the workweek.  The next challenge is to avoid the usual pitfalls and stick to your healthy eating plan. Do not buy the junk food.  If it is not in the house, you cannot eat it.  Keep foods you will eat on hand, otherwise you will not be inclined to reach for the healthy stuff.  For example, if kale chips are not your thing, do not buy kale chips. No matter how hungry you get you will not reach for foods, you do not enjoy.

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