There’s a popular quote that goes something like this: “when you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”. The internet couldn’t decide if it was Winston Churchill or Benjamin Franklin who said it, but nevertheless, the message is what’s important. While it’s true that sometimes things don’t go exactly according to plan, having a plan for what you’re going to eat, and making sure to have food with you that can help you execute that plan, is extremely important when it comes to losing weight.
Planning your meals can help you stay on track so that you’re staying within your calorie needs. It also ensures that you have a meal handy so that you’re not ravenous throughout the day and end up overdoing it later in the evening. Spending some extra time planning your meals can also help you save money. When you’re going to the grocery store and buying from a list, you’re less likely to be tempted by snacks and other things that are off plan, which add up in the long run.
We get it – planning does take a little more time than flying by the seat of your pants, but we promise, it’s worth it. To make life a little easier for you, here are some tips to make your meal planning successful and as painless as possible.
- Set aside a few hours to build a menu. We know you’re busy, but your health is important so make meal planning a priority. Set aside a couple of hours on your day off and sit down with a pen and a notebook and write down what you’re going to eat for the week. Look through your cookbooks or on your favorite healthy cooking blogs and find some recipes that you like and build your menu.
- Design your menu efficiently. You don’t have to make things complicated. If there’s a casserole you want to try for dinner and it serves 6, put it on your menu for lunch the next day. When it comes to meal planning, leftovers are your best friend. Look for recipes that can be easily doubled or that use a lot of the same basic ingredients so that you don’t have to spend a lot of extra money.
- Make a shopping list. Now that you have your menu built and your recipes handy, spend time looking through all the ingredients and building a shopping list. It helps to separate the shopping list into sections like “produce”, “meat”, and “spices”. It may take a little extra effort at the time, but it will end up saving you time at the grocery store.
- Stick to your list. This step is really important. When you’re at the grocery store, buy ONLY the items on your list. Since you already know what you’re going to be eating for the week, there’s no need to veer from the list. Doing so will only derail your progress and cost you money. To help you with this, make sure you only go grocery shopping after you’ve had a satisfying meal. Going grocery shopping on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster.
- Spend a few hours cooking. This part isn’t mandatory, but it will help you immensely. Take a few hours on a Sunday or whatever day you have off to actually cook some (or all, if you’re feeling really ambitious) of those meals. This does take effort and more than a little patience, but the payoff is BIG. When you get the majority of your cooking done in one day, you can package each meal in single serving sizes that are ready for you to take with you wherever you have to go. You can also double recipes and freeze the extra for a day down the road when you don’t feel like cooking.
Do you meal prep? If so, we’d love to hear some more tips from you!