I think one of the most important aspects of eating well is to plan in advance what you’ll be eating. I’ve found myself in the Chick-Fil-A drive thru line far too many times because I didn’t plan my week well. Tired and exhausted from a long day of work and THEN also having to figure out what in the world to eat, that’s just too much, so of course you’re going to find the easiest thing, which is usually fast food fare. At first, meal planning for an entire week can seem daunting, but blocking out just 30 minutes of time to meal plan is all you need to set yourself up for a successful week.
Step 1: Have your go-to recipes is an easily accessible spot. I’m an old soul and enjoy actual physical cookbooks, and I keep my favorite, most-loved cookbooks in an easy to access spot so I can grab them quickly when I sit down to meal plan. If you’re more of a pinterest or digital girl, actually save the recipes in a separate place on your computer so they are easy to get to or print them out and put them in a cute recipe box or binder. However you want to do it, keep your easy weeknight recipes somewhere close by and handy.
Step 2: Look at your calendar and see how many meals you’ll need to plan for that week. Are you going out one night? Do you sometimes skip a breakfast when you do fasted cardio? Also, especially if you have a smaller family that usually has some food leftover from the meal, plan for the next day’s meals to be eating up those leftovers. Waste not, want not!
Step 3: Actually write out your meals for the week. You can write them in your planner, on a separate sheet of paper, or wherever you want, but WRITE. THEM. DOWN. And write them in a place where you can see it all week long, because out of sight, out of mind! I use a weekly deskpad from Erin Condren (as pictured above) and put it on my refrigerator each week.
Step 4: As you are writing down the recipes you want to cook, also write out a shopping list. Be sure to check your pantry and fridge for items that you may already have. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought a spice that was already sitting in my pantry. Learn from my mistakes and you can save yourself a small fortune. Spices are dang expensive…but I digress. The Erin Condren deskpad is great for this because the lined portion of the pad is perforated so I can tear it off and take it to the grocery store. If you’re forgetful like me, you can also snap a picture of your shopping list once you’re finished with it so you’ll have it when you go to the store.
Step 5: Not necessary, but if you’re a sale shopper, check where you can get the best deals on your needed groceries and write down the store where you’ll be buying them. Just to save a buck, I’ve been known to visit 4 different grocery stores in a day to get my groceries. Overkill, I know.
Step 6: Get your groceries, bring them home, prep anything you can, and rest easy knowing you’re set up for a successful week and won’t fall into the fast food trap.
I hope this was helpful and gives you a starting place of how to plan your meals for the week. When I first started it seemed so daunting, but now that it’s a habit, it’s one of my favorite parts of the week. When I take the time to plan out my meals, I already feel like I’ve done something positive for my health. If you can get in the groove of thoughtful meal planning, I promise you will see some amazing results in how your health changes for the better. Let me know if this was helpful and any other questions you might have about meal planning!