How to Be Successful with Meal Planning
We’ve all heard the saying “failing to plan is planning to fail”. Meal planning is one of the best tools to help you make healthier eating choices, save money and reduce stress in your life.
Living a healthy lifestyle requires being a little more intentional about your choices, and that’s exactly what meal planning can help you do. The process doesn’t have to be super overwhelming or time-consuming like you might think. It does require more time upfront, but trust me, you’ll thank yourself later!
A lot of people are intimidated by the process of meal planning and simply don’t know where to start. I wanted to provide some quick, simple tips that I try to keep in mind when I create my meal plans each week. Hopefully this gives you the courage to get started!
Make it manageable
You don’t have to plan and prep every single meal and snack for the entire week every Sunday. Start by thinking about what would make your life easier. For most people, this is dinner, but for you this could mean having grab-and-go breakfasts or planning healthy snacks. Maybe it’s a couple of these things. Start with something that feels manageable and will help make your week go smoother. Once you get used to your routine, you can start to expand your meal planning activities.
Prioritize your weekly grocery trip
Preparing more homemade meals and snacks means we need to visit the grocery store more frequently. If you’re not used to shopping for groceries at least once a week, this can be a challenging transition. But ensuring you have all the ingredients you need at home will make it easier for you to follow through with your meal plan. Try stocking your fridge and freezer with nutritious staple items you can use to throw together a meal or snack for days when you don’t have a plan in place. Here are some of my go-to items:
- Salad greens – use to make side salad or top veggie flatbreads.
- Clementines – easy, portable snack.
- String cheese – great by itself or with mixed nuts.
- Bell peppers – great for hummus, flatbreads, or cauliflower fried rice.
- Ground turkey – good way to mix up your chicken routine.
- Greek yogurt – smoothies, breakfast, substitute for mayo or sour cream.
Repeat your favorite recipes
Do you have a simple recipe you really love? Make it your go-to meal one night of the week (or for lunches). Getting into a routine makes the process of meal planning and prepping more manageable. There’s nothing wrong with a little repetition. When you get bored, you can always switch to a new favorite!
Take advantage of leftovers
I like to choose 1-2 recipes each week that will make a large enough quantity for us to have leftovers for healthy work lunches. Prepping extra servings during dinner also saves you from having to make all of your lunches on Sunday. A little planning can save you from spending extra on a lunch out or having to take a boring lunch to work.
Keep it simple
Don’t put pressure on yourself to make every meal elaborate and Instagram-worthy. Use the MyPlate model as a guide for building a balanced plate. Pick a vegetable, a protein, and a high-fiber carbohydrate. Incorporate a few servings of fruit and dairy into your meals and snacks. Season everything to your liking and voila! You’ll have a satisfying, nutritious meal.
I hope you find this guide to meal planning helpful! For more on my personal process, including a few sample weekly meal plans, check out this post on Wellness for the Win.