Like with much else in life, failing to plan really does mean planning to fail when it comes to weight loss. I started meal planning about one year ago and I can’t recommend it enough. Instead of stressing about what I was going to cook with whatever foods I happened to have in the kitchen, I had everything I needed to cook healthy meals every day. I had previously tried meal prepping, but I found it more stressful to cook a week’s worth of meals at one time. I also can’t stand eating the same thing every day. If you want a simple way to vary your diet and never wonder what’s for dinner again, meal planning is a skill you should start building right now!
Plan Your Meals Around Your Eating Habits
Meal planning involves a lot of moving parts but once you get the hang of it, you will be so grateful you kept it up. Before you even start to meal plan, you need to take a look at your eating habits and design your plan with these habits in mind. For example, I only meal plan dinners because I drink a protein shake for breakfast and eat last night’s leftovers for lunch. Ideally, your meal planning should mirror the way you eat, too. Don’t forget to include any healthy snacks into your meal plan!
Select Your Recipes and Build Your Plan
I share lots of healthy recipes on my Twitter because eating healthy should be enjoyable in order to be sustainable. The more I have learned about cooking during my weight loss journey, the more I have truly come to appreciate a healthy diet and a home cooked meal. There is a plethora of free recipes online to suite a multitude of tastes and dietary restrictions. Some of my favorite website include Skinnytaste, Ambitious Kitchen, Feel Good Foodie and Emily Bites. Just make sure that the recipes you choose aren’t too time intensive if you’re on a tight schedule. Once you have your recipes, you can start adding them to your plan. You can use printable templates, use meal planning apps, or just write down your plan on a piece of paper. I honestly write mine on a sticky note or a note on my phone. There’s no wrong way to do this part, thankfully.
Once you know what you are eating for the week, you can start to create your shopping list. You can create your shopping list straight from some meal planning apps or just write out a list on your phone or a piece of paper. Make sure to cross reference your shopping list with what you already have at home so you don’t buy too much! Once you have your list ready, you are ready to get shopping. I prefer to order my groceries online and pick up in person. Many grocers make ordering online very easy and affordable due to the pandemic. Ordering online also keeps you from making impulse purchases and keeps you on budget. You can also just shop in person if you like—there’s nothing wrong with that at all!
These steps are highly simplified because putting these steps into action will take some practice. You may not be a born meal planner, and that’s ok! You might learn that some recipes take too long, have too many ingredients or are just not your cup of tea. With time and patience, you will definitely fall into a routine that works for you. It usually takes me about 10-20 minutes to do my meal planning for the week now that I’ve had so much practice.
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Remember, be kind to yourself and keep moving forward!