Benjamin Franklin said “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,”. When people are having a difficult time making dinners, late night snacking or eating out too much I know the answer is simple: they are failing to plan. The problem is when I mention that they should meal plan they panic because they envision putting seven days worth of a specified amount of protein in the right colored container, then the same for carbohydrates, fats and so on.  

We are talking meal planning, not meal prepping (which could be very beneficial if you are into that sort of thing). Are you going out to dinner with your date tonight or maybe your friends? If yes, that is meal planning. See … not so scary! 

Following these three simple steps will be a real game changer:

1. Make a menu of meals you’ll eat for the week.

2. Make a grocery list

3. Buy the groceries on your grocery list.

Yes, it is that simple. Knowing what you are going to eat ahead of time and having the ingredients in your home will seriously boost your nutritional success!  To get started I suggest just doing dinners and once you’ve got it down move on to lunch and then breakfast.

There are just a few logistics but the good news is you only need to do Step 1 ONCE! Then you can add as you go if you so choose! 

STEP 1 LISTS

When you are busy, which you always are, these lists will save you from those times when you are stuck without a clue what to make or where to go! You need to keep three lists handy:

List 1 Meals you enjoy.

Make a list of 15-20 meals that you make at home that you KNOW you and your family will eat. This is not the time to get fancy, and you don’t have to go all Pintrest on me … just make the list, and don’t stress over it. Once you’re in the groove you can Pintrest all the fancy recipes you’d like.

List 2 Easy meals.

Makes a list of 5-10 easy meals for the extra busy days. These are meals that take little to no prep for those soccer-baseball-gymnastics-working-late nights where no one will get to sit down at a table together. I don’t care if it’s frozen pizza. I see you sitting there like ‘SHE SAID FROZEN PIZZA! HOW IS FROZEN PIZZA HEALTHY?’ Here’s what I have to say to that: If you’re busy and a home-cooked meal isn’t an option, then do not ask if a meal is healthier than a home-cooked meal, because that’s not an option. The better question is, ‘Is this healthier than a meal from a drive-thru? Better than takeout?’ If yes, then you can eat your frozen pizza and sleep soundly at night! Give yourself a break and then a pat on the back because these easy meals will save you on the nights you need it most and save you the guilt to boot!

List 3 Restaurants/Takeout.

Where are your go-to’s? Oliverios? Mountaineer Grille? Those are two of mine! Make a list of the restaurants that you enjoy, that you go to often, and/or that you’d like to try. No more “where-do-you-want-to-go’s”. You can even write in the exact meal (if you’re the kind of person that always eats the same thing ((guilty!)).

STEP 2 PLAN THE MEALS!

Whether it’s the notes section of your phone, a sheet of paper or an index card (if you’re dorky enough to keep that kind of stuff lying around). Look at the week ahead and determine how many meals of each you’ll need (meals you enjoy, easy meals, or restaraunts/take out). Then fill in the blanks and BOOM you’ve got a meal plan.

From there head to the fridge and your pantry and see how many of the ingredients you’ve already got. Then you’ll make your grocery list! Next up, go to the grocery store and buy the items on your list! This will save you time AND money. And who doesn’t need more of those?!

I’d love to see examples of your meal plans! Share them with me on Facebook @ www.facebook.com/youfirstfit

Sweat & Smiles,

Melissa

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