Are you one of the many that struggle with your healthy eating habits as the week goes on? Does Wednesday come around and bring with it the fast food and quick snacks? If so, you are definitely not alone! As the week goes on our motivation diminishes and we get tired. Will power only goes so far, and if you aren’t prepared then it will falter quickly. If this sounds like you then meal planning may be something to consider.
What is meal planning?
Meal planning is a process of thinking through and planning out some of your meals for the week. It is a great time saver during the week when activities pile up and you’re just plain tired.
Many people who meal plan have different strategies, however, they all share one thing in common…planning! Some folks like to plan an entire week of breakfasts, lunches and dinners, while others focus on a single meal for a few days. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, meal planning is a great tool to keep you sane and on track.
How does it help keep you on track?
Meal planning is a great way to keep yourself accountable both financially and personally. When you have your food planned out then you are less likely to stray. There is an obligation to yourself when you take the time to plan out your meals! None of us want to let ourselves down, much less waste money!
When taking the time to plan out meals you allow yourself to see what your nutrition will be like throughout the week. This is a great way to know if you are going overboard in any one food category, deficient in any, or have a great, healthy mix! By seeing what your eating habits will be ahead of time you have the opportunity to fill in where you need to with snacks, eating out, and your other non-planned out meals.
Another pro for meal planning is that you can dictate how long your meals will take! Most of us dread coming home after a long day of work to cook. By meal planning you have the ability to already know what you’re making, have the ingredients on hand (and maybe even prepped), and be ready to crank out a delicious meal in no time. You can also make sure to choose meals that are quick and convenient to prepare.
How do I meal plan?
The options are endless when it comes to your strategy. Here are a few ideas (and resources) about different ways you can approach meal planning.
- Plan out three to five meals (dinners, lunches or breakfasts) for the week, create a grocery list and shop away! Doing it this way allows you to have everything on hand and lowers the risk that your fresh groceries will spoil before you can get to them. Sometimes it is easier to start with three days then work your way up to five days if you feel comfortable.
- Create a menu for the week that includes all breakfasts/lunches/dinners or a mix. Then you can shop by day or do a big grocery run at the beginning of the week for your meals. This way could help you plan for leftovers as well!
- Plan out one or two days of all meals and plan to have leftovers for each. Double or triple your recipes for each meal to be able to have some on hand for later in the week.
- Follow a meal planning blog! There are so many bloggers today that make it so easy for us to meal plan and eat healthy. Some will even provide you with an entire week of meal plans!
Enjoy the process! Sometimes it can seem daunting at first, but the more you do it the easier it will be. The beauty of meal planning is that you can make it your own. There is no right or wrong way to do it!
For more inspiration, guidance or questions in general schedule an evaluation with one of our kinesiologists.
Director of Kinesiology and Gym Operations, HealthFit Gym