It’s no secret. When we plan ahead, we feel better.
Our days run smoother, we breathe easier, our lists seem manageable (or at least not so overwhelming). But when we don’t have a plan, it’s tempting to make a few impulsive decisions to leave us feeling disorganized and perhaps a little out of control.
If we apply this thinking to how we eat, we can finally cut ourselves some slack and acknowledge that healthy eating isn’t all about will power or mind over matter. Improving our diet and eating healthier, balanced meals requires a game plan.
Planning out meals can seem daunting and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be so difficult. If we break down our plan into smaller steps, we will find success and maintain these healthier lifestyle changes for the long haul.
To help you jump start (or restart) the process, I have come up with five tips to guide you through successful meal planning.
1. Don’t overload yourself.
Start by pulling a few recipes that you think you will enjoy and aren’t overly complicated. If this is something you have never tried before, remember that meal planning does not mean you need to plan or prepare every single meal in advance. The less overwhelmed you feel, the more likely you are to continue the habit of planning ahead and eating well.
2. Make your grocery list and stick with it.
Using the recipes you have selected, make a master list. Before heading to the store, take an inventory of items you have on hand and mark these off your list. Add grocery staples to your list that may not be required for your recipes – i.e. coffee, creamer, eggs, condiments, etc.
3. Check your calendar.
If you are working late one night during the week, plan to grab takeout from somewhere to make things a little easier on yourself and your schedule. Select a few places as “go-tos” – places that have healthy, balanced and delicious items on their menu. For example, my go-to is Chop’t Mexican Caesar Salad sub kale for romaine, hold the cheese, add tomatoes, and dressing on the side. I have a crazy schedule, therefore I know my go-to places and have these restaurants on speed dial. The goal is to know what lies ahead so you can plan accordingly.
4. Commit to breakfast being a make-at-home meal.
Honestly, there is no need to eat breakfast outside of the house unless you simply ran out of time. There are so many options to make ahead of time as “grab and go” breakfast options that this really shouldn’t be an issue. *Breakfast ideas coming soon!
5. Break down prep work into steps.
Maybe it’s intuitive to some, but when I first started meal planning, I thought it made the most sense to conquer my meals recipe by recipe. However, I can now tell you with confidence that if you do it this way, you might as well put a sleeping bag in the kitchen because you will be there F O R E V E R.
Instead, look at the steps of each recipe and conquer similar steps simultaneously. I like to start by rinsing, drying and chopping all vegetables I plan to incorporate into a week’s worth of recipes, and place chopped vegetables into separate containers until they are ready to use. This prevents excessive washing of cutting boards and scrubbing knives a million times. No one likes dish duty…but if you do, get a pair of gloves because no one likes alligator hands.
If you have more specific questions about meal planning, or are a Charlottean and interested in my Meal Planning + Preparation Services, feel free to send me a message. I’d love to chat and help you figure out a plan that’s right for you.