Are you struggling to plan your meals out in advance? It’s actually simpler than you think! I’m sharing my top tips for creating a meal plan for a week.
Do you struggle with eating healthy?
Do you get bored of eating the same things over and over again?
Do you struggle with staying motivated to meal plan each week?
If you answered YES to any of those questions, then I think this week’s post is going to help you.
If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail! I’ve learned this from my own personal experience.
A few years ago, I thought I could out-exercise my diet. I would workout on my lunch break, practically killing myself on the treadmill, and then go to Subway and order a footlong sub. After all, I did just burn 300 calories running for an hour! I would trade my regular Coke for Diet Coke and eat whole wheat bread instead of white bread…that was pretty healthy, right? Well, when I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted, I knew something had to change.
Now that I work from home, it’s a little easier to make healthy decisions. But I still have to plan and prep ahead of time, otherwise I may let myself get ravenous and start eating everything in site! I’m going to share with you what works for me. What works for me may not be the same for you. For example, I plan our weekly meals on a Monday. You might want to plan your weekly meals on a Sunday. Or maybe you want to plan each day in the morning. The bottom line is…you NEED to plan. So pick a day and method that works for you and stick to it!
How To Get Started
Meal Plan Template
The first thing I do each Monday morning is print off a blank meal planning template. Since I only eat 3 times a day, I prefer one that doesn’t have a bunch of space for snacks, (which is really hard to find). Here’s the one I use. I just keep the “snack” column blank.
Find A Place To Keep Recipes
Do you have some favourite cookbooks? If so, earmark the recipes you love the most so you don’t have to flip through the whole book to find recipes.
Do you use Pinterest? I’ve created boards based on “breakfast,” “lunch,” and “dinners.” If I need a dinner idea, I just go to my “dinner” board on Pinterest and pick a recipe. Come follow me on Pinterest if you’re looking for ideas.
Do you use other blogs and websites? Bookmark them for easy access when you need a recipe idea. I often use my recipe page here on my blog for meal ideas. It’s sorted by “entree,” “sides,” etc. You can save my recipes or recipes from other blogs to your Pinterest! I love seeing the actual picture of the recipe when I’m planning my meals.
Or, you can print off the recipes and keep them in a binder which is organized by meal type. With paper recipes, I like to draw a little smiley face on the ones the family really enjoyed. I add those to our regular rotation. You can do the same on Pinterest by adding a “check mark” to the recipes you’ve made and loved.
Ask Your Family What They Would Like To Eat
I love getting my whole family involved. I’ll ask my husband what meal he feels like that week. I’ll then ask my kids the same thing. I also get them to flip through my cookbooks and bookmark pages of recipes they would like to try. Even if they ask for things like chicken fingers or spaghetti, I can still make the low carb version, like using coconut flour instead of whole wheat flour for the chicken fingers and zucchini noodles instead of pasta noodles for the spaghetti.
Keep A Record Of Your Previous Meal Plans
One of my best inspirations is my own record of things I’ve cooked in the past. Take a look at what you were cooking a month ago, a year ago. It’s a good way to remember things you used to cook, and still love.
You can either keep all of your meal plan templates, but since we are a paperless world these days, I like to use the app, AnyList. I can meal plan and make my grocery list in the same app! It’s super easy to use.
Plan For Leftovers
One of my favourite lunches is leftovers!! I usually plan to have leftovers for lunch about 4 days a week. I’ll make a large casserole or else cook a couple extra servings so that both myself and my husband can have leftovers the next day.
Add Staples To Your Weekly List
With the AnyList app, you can create a list of “favourite” foods. On that list, I have our staple foods that I need to stock up on on a regular basis. Some of these include almond milk, apples, almond butter, butter, eggs, yogurt, string cheese, deli turkey and ham, coconut oil, coffee beans, bacon, bell peppers, blueberries, broccoli, celery, grape tomatoes, cauliflower, lemons, macadamia nuts, romaine lettuce, etc.
These are things we use on a regular basis, and I can easily check our fridge or pantry to see what items I need to stock up on that week. Because I always have that list ready, it takes me 3 minutes to go through and decide what I need.
Have Theme Nights
Pick different themes for different nights. Maybe you want to have “meatless Monday” every Monday. “Taco Tuesday” on Tuesday. “Soup night” on Wednesday, etc. This doesn’t work for everyone, but it may be especially helpful for those of you with kids. See if they want to get involved with planning their favourite tacos one week, or suggesting soups for the next month. Keeping the focus narrow will help you and your household make quick recipe decisions.
Plan For Any Obstacles
When you’re making your meal plan for the week, think about any travel you have to do or any dinners/lunches out. If you have a date night scheduled, plan to make that your one treat meal! And I don’t mean you have to go all out and order everything on the menu! Plan that you’ll have a glass of wine with dinner, pass on the bread, enjoy a nice big salad with a protein and dressing on the side, and then share dessert.
We like to make 99% of our meals at home, that way I know the ingredients and I can keep it healthy. So on the rare occasion we do go out, I know that it’s one time I can enjoy what I’m eating and not worry about losing progress. If you start having too many treat meals though, you’ll find yourself frustrated that it’s taking longer to reach your goals.
What Does My Day Typically Look Like?
I’ve shared what a typical day of eating looks like for me HERE, but I’ll share it again.
Since I practice intermittent fasting, I don’t eat my “breakfast” until 11 am. I also only eat 3 meals a day. This allows your insulin levels to recover and burn more fat. You can read more about that HERE.
I start my day with a delicious Rocket Fuel Latte at 8 am.
Around 11 am, my “breakfast” always starts with raw veggies and my delicious Roasted Cauliflower Hummus. I love starting my day with raw veggies. I’m at my hungriest at that time, so it’s easy to eat a bunch of veggies! Shortly after, I follow it up with my favourite meal, Chocolate Vegan Shakeology! Oh my..it’s like dessert in a cup! Plus, the way I make it, it keeps me full for hours.
Then around 2:30 pm, I’ll have my “lunch.” This usually consists of leftovers, or else I’ll cook up some bacon to have on a Cobb salad or I’ll cook up a chicken thigh (bone in, skin on) and then saute up some veggies in the same pan. Remember that list of staples I mentioned above? This is where I’ll add those favourite veggies, bacon, and chicken. That way, I always have something on hand I can quickly make for lunch.
Our family eats dinner together every night, it’s the one thing that is non-negotiable for us. We usually eat around 6:30 pm. I’ll look at my menu plan that morning and then take out whatever meat we need from the freezer so it’s thawed by the time I cook dinner. Sometimes I’ll take out an extra portion or two of protein so that I can make enough for leftovers.
That’s it! This is how I meal plan each and every week. Like I mentioned above, I love using the app AnyList. Everything is kept on my phone and it even syncs to my tablet and computer. You can even share lists with your family members.
Does everything always go as planned? Of course not! Life happens. Sometimes I’ll look at what we’re supposed to have that night and I don’t feel like making it, so I’ll just switch it with another day. It’s easy to do because I already have the ingredients for everything.
Let me know know if you have any questions in the comments section below 🙂
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