Meal Planning Made Easy

 

I developed a passion for nutrition after my freshmen year in college when I started training for Triathlon. I knew nutrition was important part of fueling the body and recovery and did not know, what I did not know. Neither my high school or college swim coaches educated us so I was on my own to learn and still continue to learn.

What does healthy eating consist of? For me it means eating smaller frequent meals and snacks  to fuel my training and activities of daily living,  while being mindful of portion size and balancing each meal with the three macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) and lots of fruits and veggies as snacks, not letting myself go hungry

I am not a planner unless I plan to plan. About 5 years ago I committed to my own challenge. I committed and scheduled 30 minutes out of my day to plan, prepare and cook dinners for 30 days. Of course it was struggle and frustrating and times and I wanted to just throw an Amys Burrito in the microwave for 2 months, but because I am motivated by challenges, over the course of 30 days, it become a habit and now I really enjoy it. I realized preparing and cooking did not take as long as I thought. It started to become my “zen” and it bothers me when I don’t “have time” to do it. We all have 24 hours in a day, “having time” means  prioritizing how you spend your time

The first step in mindful meal planning and preparation is prioritizing and scheduling it into your activities of daily living. This includes grocery shopping, searching for recipes, learning what does nutrient dense whole foods, fresh vegetables, fruit, lean meats and poultry, fish, nuts, beans, seeds seed oils  you like, to make it healthy eating.

Unlike others, I don’t grocery shop and cook for the entire week on the weekends. I like to grocery shop about 3 times/week and cook almost everyday.

I eat the same breakfast, lunch (leftovers) and snacks and when I prepare my dinners I follow themes. I eat meatless everyday and I suggest for those that do not, consider practicing “Meatless Mondays”. I love a good taco so enjoy “Taco Tuesday” and I experimented with eating Raw in 2015 so am mindful of “Raw Wednesday”. Thursday has become  common to eat leftovers from the previous days. I like dinner date night Friday. My favorite is Thai or Indian and occasional Mexican or Italian Fiesta. Saturday and Sunday vary.

Breakfast Toast, nut butter, banana
Snacks (usually post workout) Shakeology and almond milk, peanut butter banana sandwich. Fruits
Lunch Salads or mix of veggies and some plant based protein like tofu, tempeh, beans, or Field Roast Sausage
Snacks Fruits, nut butters, steamed veggies and hummus
Dinner Varies: Usually a crock pot with a complete carb (Quinoa, Brown Rice, Sweet Potato, potatoes) tons of veggies and a plant based protein (see above

Taco Tuesday recipes I saved in Pinterest

RAW recipes I saved in Pinterest

Thai, Indian food, Stir Frys

Snack Depends. If I am lacking fruit I will eat more fruit, sometimes treat myself to a dessert type of food or another plant based protein product

 

Be smart about what you choose to eat. Don’t deprive yourself of all the foods you enjoy, YOLO. All you have to do is try. Take it one small step at a time and work at it, because as with anything new, we get better with time.

Your schedule is unique to you, as is your body, your preferences and your needs. That is why following a meal plan laid out by someone else for someone else is not likely to work for you. How much time do you have in the morning for breakfast? Can you eat snacks during your work day? Are you feeding just yourself or your whole family at dinner? In order to successfully meal prep you figure out what works for YOU.

“A goal without a plan is a dream” right? And a dream can come true with action. You can have all the best intentions in the world to do this or that, what matters more than intentions is a plan. Know what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. Just expecting that a meal prep plan will happen after you’ve gone to the store and bought a bunch of veggies and meat and intended to cook them into edible meals is a great way to end up ordering pizza because you have a bunch of rotten meat and veggies in the fridge.

Planning means setting aside time.  Because time is of high value and limited supply, how we spend our time says everything about our priorities. You might want to lose weight and get healthy, but saying you don’t have the time is telling me it is not a priority and you would rather spend it doing something else. That’s ok! However, you aren’t successful at meal planning and prepping because you have not made it a priority. You’re spending your time doing something else.

The more you execute your plan consistently the easier it will be. Find ways to keep yourself accountable for at least 21 days for best results going forward.

Tips for planning

  1. Focus on your priorities. If you say you want to eat healthy, make it a priority. In order to make time for something you must make less time for something else. Planning and prepping meals each week does take time. Determining what you can move, or eliminate, from your schedule to free up that time. Then commit to it!
  2. Track how you spend your time. Just like you schedule work or training commitments arrange your schedule. This includes your time. The best way to ensure you are spending your time wisely is to keep track of how you use it in a calendar or scheduler.
  3. Frequent Grocery Shopping: Grocery shopping is easy, I shop mainly around the perimeter for the freshest foods I love to eat!  Arrange your schedule and block off time to grocery shop and prep. Some of you might do this on the weekend, shop on Saturday and prep on Sunday. I prefer to shop 3 times a week, about a 2 hour weekly commitment and prep/cook every  day, about 30 minutes a day, 3-4 hours a week.
  4. Reward yourself for motivation and consistency. Motivation is the difference between success and failure. In order to motivate yourself to get something done, identify a way to reward yourself for doing so. Besides a nutrient dense meal for you and your family, start out rewarding yourself for getting into this new routine. My rewards are usually fitness related.
  5. Track progress Keep a log of every time you successfully execute your plan or make a check mark on a calendar. One action alone is not much, but a month’s worth of action is a lot.

Now that the planning is done, time to prep before you cook

  1. Clean Up: My excuse before I started preparing and cooking nutrient dense meals was the clean up before and afterwards. Since I have limited counter space the first thing I do is make sure that there is NOTHING on my counters when I get started.  When the preparation is done, I immediately clean up and not let dishes build up in the sink cause I know I will use them again the next day
  2. Have the tools you need in the kitchen. Slow Cookers / Food Processors are the must have appliances.  I only recently started using a slow cooker when my sister posted about it in my Plant Based Recipe Group last year.
  3. Recipes I have some cookbooks and have been collecting for a few years I google recipes and keep those I enjoy in Pinterest. I still google something almost everyday containing the word “vegan” then the food I want to use. Like “ Vegan Eggplant Sweet Potato”
  4. I make a huge leafy green salad that lasts me at least 2 days. I make crock pot meals that last two days.

Stay Focused, strategize, make wise choices, look ahead, find yummy recipes, shop and Enjoy the process

10 Lifestyle Habits for Healthy Eating

What you eat impacts how you sleep, train and perform. What and how much you eat really depends on your goals. Are you eating for better health? Are you eating for weight loss? Are you eating for performance?
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