I’m often asked what my tricks are for eating a healthy, whole diet. So I wanted to share with you the #1 way that I guarantee that I’ll uphold my diet – meal planning.
It probably comes as no surprise that meal planning is critical if you’re trying to follow any kind of diet. It’s so easy to get off track when you don’t arm yourself with exactly what you need to be successful. In fact, ease, convenience, and availability are all common reasons people claim they can’t eat well. So, rather than put yourself in a bind where you’re starving with nothing in the fridge and seconds away from ordering pizza, think about how much easier it would be to have dinner ingredients in your fridge instead!
I take a few things into consideration when developing my meals for the week:
1) Determine how often are we going to be home – Typically, we each eat out once during the week and once on the weekends so I usually cook 4 days a week.
2) Select what types of meals I want to cook – Each week, I aim for a mix of fish, chicken, or turkey, and occasionally incorporate beef or a soup. Knowing that I’ll essentially pick one of each always helps me pick recipes.
3) Write out ingredients needed – When I select meals, I almost always incorporate 1 protein and 2 veggies since I try to always eat low carb/gluten free. I then write up a grocery list with the key ingredients needed BEFORE heading out (you can get overwhelmed and flustered in the grocery store with no plan, am I right?!)
OK, so mapping out 4 or 5 meals/week is sometimes easier said than done right? Well my trick is that I keep a “notepad” list of my favorite 10ish meals in my phone and the main ingredients within each – see below for example. Keep in mind that these meals only include the main ingredients that I need to buy fresh (unless I’m out of something, I do not add items like spices, olive oil or soy sauce to my list because I know I have these already in my pantry).
I can then easily copy / paste my selected meals into a weekly grocery list (which also goes on my iPhone notepad) where certain staple items – like almond milk, fruit, eggs, remain constant. Then, I can easily reference or export the grocery list via email to Bill if he goes for me.
Here’s an example of my grocery list that includes our weekly staples plus the ingredients needed for the meals that week:
If I’m in a rush and don’t have time to map out the exact meals for every day, I tend to simply map out the veggies I like with each protein and know that with the spices, sauces, and staple cooking ingredients I have at home, I’ll whip up something on the fly. For example:
– Salmon, lemon, asparagus
– Chicken, mushrooms, leaks
– Turkey sausage, beans peppers, beans
I have to admit, I do buy fresh produce and proteins every week but can certainly appreciate the convenience of buying in bulk and freezing – especially now that I have a baby. I can see how it could make your life (and meal planning) a little easier and just last week signed up for a Costco membership so stay tuned.