Meal planning isn’t high up on everyone (or anyones) fun list.
It takes time, it isn’t exciting, and the task isn’t something that has to be done to go about your week.
But it is incredibly helpful for anyone who is trying to change old habits and live a healthier lifestyle.
We all have those, throw in a pizza for dinner and call it a day, late nights.
Or the times of wondering around having no idea what to cook and settling on cereal because it takes little effort.
Meal planning is going to help you have a plan through the week, so you don’t have to have the dreaded “what’s for dinner” conversation every single day.
I have been on this journey for years, and I still plan my meals every week because it makes my week run smoother. I don’t have the energy or brain power to come up with something everyday, so a pre-planned meal is perfect.
I am going to share with you the step-by-step process of how to plan your meals for the week, and some easy tips to make nutrition less overwhelming.
Let’s dive in!
A meal plan is just as it sounds, a plan for your meals.
This can be a day, a week, a month. It doesn’t matter how long, it is just planning meals.
Don’t over complicate things. It doesn’t have to be meal prep, it can literally just be writing things down on a piece of paper.
Meal planning can truly be a drag, it ain’t fun, but it can be so beneficial.
The only reason I still do it is because it helps be so much.
And I am not just saying this here, there have been weeks where I didn’t make a plan and everyday I am mad at myself because I have to play the “what to make for dinner” game at 6pm when I am starving.
So, benefits of a weekly meal plan…
• Saves time. Every night you know exactly what needs to be thawed/cooked for your meal.
• Less time/money at the grocery store. If you have a plan, you know what needs to be purchased, and you will likely spend less and waste less.
• Easy to stick to. It is much easier to eat healthy when you already have a plan and are ordering out less during the week.
• Everyone knows the plan. If you or your partner are ready for dinner, you both know what needs to be cooked rather than one person assuming the other has a plan.
• More diverse meals. When we have a plan, we can make better meals. Without a plan we usually settle on spaghetti, am I right?
Alright, alright, we get it. There are benefits, now how the heck do you do it?!
Let’s start out by saying, if your meals are exciting or delicious, you still aren’t going to eat them.
If you are looking to change your current routine and get healthy, you have to find recipes that get you excited to cook and try them, or you are going to fall right back into old habits.
You don’t have to plan out every single meal/snack if that sounds too overwhelming to start.
Even just planning dinners can be a game changer in time and efficiency.
Let’s start with some easy steps you can do each week to create your meal plan.
1. Remember the basics of a meal…carb, fat, protein and vegetable!
We want to remember these key components when we are making our meal plan for the week.
This is going to allow us to create balanced meals, and not leave anything out when we are recipe hunting.
The best way to do this is to grab a piece of paper (or a note in your phone) and write columns for carb, fat, protein and vegetable.
2. Check your pantry/fridge/freezer
Using what you already have can help save money, and decrease waste.
I know some recipes call for the tiniest amount of something, but you have to buy a big ole bunch of it. The key here is then using recipes during the week that use similar ingredients so you don’t have to waste food.
So take inventory before you start. And write down what you have in each of the columns.
Rice, potatoes and pasta going in carbs.
Butter, coconut oil, coconut milk, olive oil going in fats and so on.
Do this with all main ingredients you have.
Yes, it is going to take some practice to know what food goes in which category, but the more you do it, the more you will learn!
3. Start creating your meal plan
There are a few ways you can do this.
You can either look up recipes that include the main ingredients you have in your house.
Or you can start putting meals together by picking each food from the categories that go together.
For example: rice, ground turkey, avocado, lettuce…burrito bowl!
You also want to set expectations here.
Do you want to plan breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday all week. Or do you just want to plan dinners?
This is going to come down to you, the time you have, and how much time you want to save yourself during the week.
4. Create grocery list
Once you have your meals nailed down, you can start creating your grocery list.
Make sure you take into account the items you already have so you don’t double up.
5. Go shopping!
Now that you have your meals planned for the week and your grocery list, head to the store and get it done!
Remember, having a list is going to cut down on time and money spent while you are there.
A few other things to keep in mind:
– You don’t always have to plan your meals, it just makes life easier.
– You can plan to have the same breakfast and lunch all week and plan new dinners (this is what I do)
– There may be meal prep involved so you can just grab breakfast/lunch if you are heading into work for the week.
– When planning, take into account what your week looks like. If you know you have late nights, plan those to be leftover nights.
– Don’t pick recipes that are too complicated. It might sound like a good idea on Sunday, but by Wednesday you are not going to want to spend an hour cooking at 7pm.
– If you are short on time, crockpot meals are the way to go! Through it all in, set the time and then dinner will be done when you are ready.
If you are looking for an easy way to have meal planning done for you, my Collective “premium” program does it for you.
Along with a weekly menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner – you get full access to the Collective that includes home workouts, mobility, community and more!
You can also download this meal template to help with your weekly meal planning.
Now, if this blog was helpful for you, please share it to your social media platform!