Meal planning is a chore.
There, I said it! That’s the thought process so many women have around meal planning. But you know what’s even more of a chore? Wandering aimlessly in the grocery store aisles trying to figure out what to eat, or ever worse, hitting up the drive-thru. Then afterwards you hate yourself even more.
Meal planning made easy is not a secret. It takes some time in the beginning, but soon it’s second nature. Want to know my secret tips?
Perhaps you don’t think you have time to sit down and plan out a week of meals. But, when you do them all at once, you eliminate the nightly chore of trying to figure out what to have for dinner. Plus, when the kids are screaming-hungry, hubsy is in a bad mood (also hungry) and you’ve got to get out of the house in 30 minutes to take the kids to swim practice, meal planning just makes sense.
Not convinced yet?
Having your dinner waiting for you (crock pot) or screaming out to you from the fridge (leftovers, anyone?) is a great way to take the guesswork out of what to eat, helps keep you on the clean eating train, and satisfies everyone’s hunger while saving you time.
Check out the benefits of meal planning:
1. Take control — of your healthy eating, time and evening activities.
When you plan your meals in advance, you have much more time to do the things you’d rather be doing. Instead of getting more and more frustrated on why you can’t stick to your clean eating habits, you’ll be confident and relaxed at meal time, knowing you hit one more healthy meal out of the park. And if it requires almost no cook time (crock pot meals rock), even better!
I can’t tell you how stressed food prep and eating used to make me. It’s true, food can cause a lot of stress when you don’t have a plan. I used to wander aimlessly through my work day obsessing about what to make once I got home that was healthy, and quick. Delish would be a bonus too. Once I wrapped my brain around meal planning and how it actually saved me time and stopped all this unnecessary worrying, I started relaxing more around meal times. It literally changed how I look at food.
2. Improve your health –and the health of your family.
It’s no secret that while I eat clean 80% of the time, hubsy doesn’t (it’s just the two of us). Over the years I’ve come to learn that while I can’t get him to change his unhealthy eating ways, I can hi-jack some of his meals so he’s eating at least one healthy meal a day. One healthy meal is better than none I always say!
It doesn’t mean I’ve given up on him, as he has made some changes over the years, it just means I’ve come to realize he is a grown adult and can make his own choices. Doesn’t mean I love him less, just means I know when to pick my battles.
We can’t changes others, only lead by example.
Meal planning does improve overall health for both of us, and can establish good eating habits for kids and grown-ups alike. This way I get to control the amount of salt and fat in our meals, while also increasing our veggie and fibre content.
3. Saves money.
There is no doubt about it, planning saves money. When you plan your meals and then only buy the foods and ingredients you need, you’ll be throwing out less food that has gone bad before you had a chance to eat it.
I used to do that all the time. On grocery day I’d open up the fridge and go thru all the food and toss out so much. What a waste!
Follow the tips below to make your dollars stretch at the grocery store:
How to Plan Your Meals
Now that we have an understanding of the benefits of planning out our meals ahead of time, let’s get to the actual process.
Planning meals is not difficult. It does not take more work than not planning your meals. All it is, is a shift in perception, and a healthy habit. Instead of the unhealthy habit of grabbing something, anything for dinner because you are so hungry you could gnaw off your hand, you are in control and at the helm of your clean eating bus.
Once you accept this thought process around meal planning, it becomes that much easier for you. Now let’s get to it! This is Meal Planning Made Easy!
Start with just the dinners — plan just what you will have for dinner for one week. Don’t worry about anything else for now, just focus on dinner time. Once you are comfy with this and it is a habit, move on to Step #2.
Focus on entrees first, then side dishes for lunches and dinners. Now we are getting a little more in depth and really thinking about what we are fueling our bodies with for 2 meals, not just one.
You should be feeling more comfy with the idea of meal planning and are using the time it takes to do so as some much needed “me” or “mommy” time. Keep it simple — chicken, broccoli and sweet potato mash is just fine, and also easy to make!
Once you have planning two meals under your belt, it’s time to start meal planning dinners, then lunches, and then breakfasts. This way works best as you can slide leftovers into the lunch and sometimes breakfasts slots and this is much easier and faster.
Remember, there is nothing wrong with a well balanced smoothie for breakfast, or a cup of Greek yogurt and berries, and chopped walnuts. Breakfasts don’t have to be eggs, toast and the whole nine yards.
That being said, make sure you aren’t just eating carbs and sugar (which is really more carbs as far as your digestive system and waistline is concerned) like toast, jam and juice.
Have I convinced you yet how easy Meal Planning is? No?? Almost?
Maybe you’d like to see an actual meal plan including breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks too so you can work off it to create you own. Sure!
I don’t mind helping you get started this way. In fact, this is the exact way I learned how to meal plan. Keep in mind that the meal plan below may not fill your caloric needs. Also, it is written for someone who does not have IBS, is not gluten intolerant or lactose intolerant either. All of which I am.
It is a general meal plan, and you will notice a lot of meals are repeated. This is another big secret of eating clean and also getting in and out of the kitchen. I don’t know about you, but I for one am not a good cook and I certainly don’t have the time to be slaving over a hot stove all day long.
And lastly, if you prefer to work 1:1 with me where we can take all your health, wellness and fitness issues into consideration, you can reach me here and we can set up a time to see what program would work best for you. Everyone is different so just because one person got great results with one program doesn’t mean the same program works for someone else. That’s why I create and cater each program to my clients needs, so they can get the best results for them.
Need a Clean Eating Grocery List? Download it now for free!