Need a little extra help planning meals for the week? This is what I do and work on with my clients. Sundays are typically the meal plan days before I go grocery shopping to make sure I have healthy meals prepped all week and stay on track with my health & fitness goals. It’s important to note that even if you’re planning just ONE day in advance that’s still better than not planning. Do what you can. 🙂
Meal plans are a great way to incorporate more healthy meals into your diet. I look at meal plans as a base, sometimes I add to it, take away from it, or just cook what I have. Either way, the key to healthy habits is preparation and this is the best thing you can do!
1. START WITH A MAIN DISH AS A COURSE
Let’s start with dinner because dinner typically becomes lunch for the next day. To make it easy, I start with a meat for my main course. I typically plan meals Monday through Friday because the weekends there can be other events. Sundays, I like to mix whatever is left from the week and create some pretty interesting dishes.
I start by thinking about what would I want to have over the course of the week. For instance, I like to have fish once or twice and chicken once or twice and always include a big salad. We try to stay away from red meat, but I’ll put it into the meal plan if it’s a special occasion.
2. PLAN YOUR SIDES
If you have your main course (protein) picked out, think about what vegetables would go well with those items. Vegetables can go with anything! Some of my favorite combinations include: peppers, onions, and mushrooms / zucchini, onions, mushrooms / lemon, asparagus and broccoli.
3. MAKE YOUR LIST AND PREPARE
You’ve planned your meals.. now make your list and go shopping! When you start eating healthy consistently, you will find that you tend to eat some of the same foods each week.
Download my meal planner and grocery list worksheet for easy peasy meal planning in minutes!
After you shop, go home and cut everything up. I cut up all my veggies – peppers, zucchini, onions, etc. and put them in a container so I could easily throw them into the oven or on the stove when I’m cooking meals during the week.
I also prepare tons of fruits for snacks and smoothies. I’ll cut up strawberries, peaches, and pineapples – mix it together for a quick fruit salad or freeze it for smoothies. Berries also make a great snack! We buy nuts in bulk like almonds or cashews for snacks.
Cut up everything you could possibly cut up and have it ready. If there’s time I’ll make a batch of hard boiled eggs or breakfast muffins for the week.
4. WORK WITH YOUR SCHEDULE
Look at your calendar and identify the days where your time is limited to cook. Pick fast and easy meals you can prep in advance. Between yoga and boxing classes, my busy nights are Mondays and Tuesdays, I typically make a crockpot meal, quick pasta dish with brown rice pasta, or a large salad. So when are you busy? When do you not have a lot of time to prep? Pick those nights to do easy meals.
5. PUT IT IN THE CALENDAR
Put it on the calendar and stick to it! I write my meals out on my meal planning worksheet and hang it on the fridge, so I know what I need to do. I don’t have to think about it. I just come home and get it done. With a meal plan, I end up not eating unhealthy things and getting more out of my meals.
Don’t forget about breakfast!! It really is the most important meal of the the day. Check out a previous blog post, The Breakfast List, for 30+ quick healthy meals.
This process has really helped me stick to a healthy eating routine! I hope it helps you, too!