Better Meal Planning – The Nine Step Plan by Transformation LAB
Meal planning becomes an important part of achieving optimal or complete nutrition. If you don’t have a plan for what you’re going to eat, you may end up grabbing whatever is fastest and most readily available.
This often means you’re consuming processed food or junk food. It’s a missed opportunity to get at least some nutrients into your system. Junk food often causes more harm than good.
What Is Meal Planning?
Meal planning is simply deciding in advance what you’re going to have to eat. In most cases people plan several days’ worth of meals and snacks. It makes shopping, cooking and preparing food, and eating, a much simpler and healthier process.
Here are nine steps to make meal planning fun and easy:
#1 Decide how often you can shop.
If you can only shop once a week then you’re going to want to plan an entire week’s worth of meals. If you can shop every three or four days then you only have to plan those meals.
#2 Plan for snacks too.
Include snacks into your meal planning. It’s too easy to grab something unhealthy when you don’t have a plan.
#3 Make it tasty.
Sure, you can plan to have carrots and celery stick for a snack. However, if you don’t like carrots and celery sticks, there’s a bigger risk of you letting that snack get moldy in the fridge while you go out for some fries. Make sure the recipes and foods you put into your meal plan are actually foods that you want to eat.
#4 Identify recipe sources.
Where are you going to find your meal ideas? Identify a handful of great sources of nutritious recipes. For example, you might begin to subscribe to a few nutritious eating blogs, or you might buy a few cookbooks. Why not follow our Chef on Instagram for some great ideas of simple but effective food choices @paulie_fitfood
#5 Create a system.
Create systems to organize and plan. For example, maybe you hit the supermarket on Wednesday and Sunday. Sit down at your table and make a full meal plan before you shop. Add ingredients from each recipe to your shopping list so you go to the store knowing exactly what you need to buy.
#6 Get the family involved.
If you’re cooking for a family, get others involved in the meal planning – and maybe even the preparation! When people feel that they have a say in what is served, they tend to be more excited about it. You might, for example, let a child choose one meal a week. They can also help prepare that meal.
#7 Have contingency plans.
It always makes sense to have some backup food. You might not have leftovers that you expected from last night’s dinner and now you have nothing for lunch. If you have some backups then you’re ready to go.
#8 Make ahead.
If you live a super busy life (and who doesn’t), then consider a few make-ahead recipes. These are healthy recipes that you can prepare on the weekend, freeze, and thaw and heat for dinner. One pot meals are great for this. You can put everything together in the morning and come home to dinner.
#9 Try something new.
It’s easy to get into a meal planning rut. Meatless Monday, turkey Tuesday, noodles on Wednesday and so on. While that does provide a framework to make planning easier, it can also start to feel limiting. Try to include one new recipe each week. It’s good to feel excited about your food.
Meal planning can take some getting used to. It requires you to create a few new lifestyle habits. However, once you’ve integrated these habits into your routine, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it. It’s a great way to make sure that each meal is nutritious and delicious.
Zoey Hughes – Transformation LAB Lifestyle Coach