So, you want to eat healthy and meal plan like a pro?
Don’t fail before you even begin! Spending time each week searching for recipes, making list after list of ingredients and groceries, getting to the store and prepping for the week ahead is about as exhausting as writing this run-on sentence… BUT it’s worth it.
Here is why: Anything you begin, a new job, a new family, a fitness goal etc. does not come easy, you struggle every day with hitting sales goals, waking up in the middle of the night with a hungry baby, working out once a day, saying no to office donuts… You get the picture, life is tough but, once you get your groove and understand how to NOT overcomplicate the process, all of that hard work begins to pay off. Soon you’ll find yourself meal planning and eating clean without even thinking about it.
Consistency is key, give anything about 21 days (this is the magic number that science has come up with) and you’ll form a habit. This means doing that one thing EVERY DAY for 21 days, no cheats, no skips and no tomorrows. Meal plan every day for 21 days and you’ll become a pro!
Follow these tips for meal planning success:
1. Get Inspired, Gather Recipes: Browse blogs and websites for ANYTHING that looks delicious and sticks to your clean eating goals. Store these recipes and don’t waste time or complicate things. I use Pinterest to store my faves because it’s visual and fast. Another option is Evernote For Food a quick way to grab recipes from the web on any device and create a cookbook, grocery list and meal plan. I’m also known for marking up cookbooks with sticky notes. Hey! whatever works.
2. Keep a Food Diary: Overwhelmed with the task of creating delicious, healthy and easy-to-execute meals for your household every day? You may want to start keeping a food diary. This habit can take away the headache of meal planning at the last minute. By recording meals that were definitely keepers you will have a go-to reference of stand-by meals that will make grocery shopping and meal planning much easier.
3. Start a Calendar: You’ve got to write it down. Choose a method that works for you, whether that be a chalkboard on the fridge, a journal, a Google Calendar or an Excel spreadsheet (like mine in the photo above.) Start filling in daily menus for the week with your clipped recipes or fave stand-by’s from your food diary.
4. Choose a Shopping Day and Create a List: You have your menus organized in your calendar now it’s time to really get organized. The goal of a grocery list is to ensure that you buy only what you need and it gets you in and out of the store quickly. Have your recipes nearby, take inventory of what you have in the cupboard and fridge and maintain a master list of things you buy each week (yogurt, eggs, milk…) then add to your master list the items you need from your recipes. Next, organize your list by grocery store department to save time like this:
- Bread, Cereal, Rice, and Pasta
- Milk, Yogurt and Cheese
- Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs and Nuts
- Fats, Oils and Sweets
- Staples, Condiments and Miscellaneous Foods (spices, baking powder, etc.)
- Health and Beauty Products
- Household Items (laundry soap, light bulbs, etc.)
5. Food Prep: Think of this as an extension of grocery shopping. As soon as you return from the grocery store and begin unloading your bags, food prep begins. Wash and dry lettuce. Chop onions. Roast vegetables. Soak beans for tacos. Shred zucchini for zoodles. Stack up glass containers of prepped ingredients in the refrigerator and bask in your own awesome preparedness.
There you have it. Now go, get organized and become the meal planning warrior that you were meant to be!