So…you’ve made the resolution to start eating healthier this year, again. You’ve decided you’re really serious this year, and are toying with the idea of meal planning to keep you on track. We all see posts online of people who are successful with meal planning, but what are the steps these professional meal planners took that have helped them get to this level of successful meal planning? Everyone has to start somewhere, so let’s dive into the basics of where to begin to get yourself on track to successful meal planning.
First off, let’s differentiate meal planning from meal prepping. Although these two techniques are often used in conjunction, they’re very different and can help you choose what route you’d like to take on your meal planning journey.
Meal planning is focused on developing a system for your meals that week. This could be planning out a complete week of breakfasts, lunches and dinners, or it could focus on just one of those meals for the entire week. There are a few pros and cons related to meal planning:
Grocery shopping is SO much easier
No more worrying about what you’re eating that day
Locks you into a schedule
Food waste could be an issue if you don’t stick to your plan
If you’re interested in meal planning, our team of dietitians just launched a meal planning series to help! Check it out on the blog.
May save time on busy days
Meals will suit your tastes
Can make mornings less chaotic
Often saves money
Can reduce flexibility or become boring
May not want to spend spare time prepping
May need to invest in containers/storage
Making Meal Planning and Prepping a Successful Habit
Look for ingredients that are versatile
Make batch cooking a habit
Have backup plans. Frozen meals can really help keep you on track!
Make yourself inflexible
Cook things you don’t typically eat just because internet people told you to
Forget about MyPlate! Keep your meals balanced
If you’ve checked out our dietitian team’s weekly meal plan (week one and week two), you’ve probably noticed that our menus include a variety of meals and amount of preparation involved. One night can be a fully prepared meal that just need to be reheated, another night could include convenience items like a stir-fry blend from the produce department that just needs a protein and sauce, and other nights can be meals that you’ll prepare in your kitchen from scratch. The real trick with including a variety of meals is to prevent meal planning burnout (oh yes, that is a VERY real thing). If you’re cooking a new meal from scratch every night, you may find that it is too much of a time commitment. Make sure you’re realistic with the amount of time you’re able to commit to preparing meals for yourself and take that into consideration when creating your meal plan.
If you’re interested in how to develop your own meal plan, check out dietitian Ashley’s blog on the Secrets to Family Meal Planning for some simple yet delicious meal combinations to get you started. If you ever need help or would like additional inspiration, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org- we’d love to hear from you!