When you speak with many nutrition experts and coaches, you are going to hear that you need to have a meal plan for your week. If you don’t have a meal plan, it is very easy to go off the rails and eat something you shouldn’t be eating on your diet. Whether you are following the keto diet and have a big sprinkle donut because you forgot to order your favorite keto chocolate chip cookies or you couldn’t think of a healthy recipe for the evening on the fly, having a meal plan will help you keep from failing your diet. Let’s go into five tips for creating meal plans.
1. Plan Main Ingredients but Give Yourself Options
Do you ever get to the evening when you have tacos planned and wish that you could make a healthy version of meatloaf? Many people experience the challenge of coming to a night with a meal they don’t want to have. If you have a specific meal that you have to eat that evening, it can be difficult, but if you have ingredients, you can find the different meals that you can make with these main ingredients.
2. Write Your Plan Down
While you might think that you are going to remember everything that you thought of regarding your meal plan, that is very unlikely and almost certainly impossible. When you write down your meal plan, you make it “real,” and your brain understands what is going to happen and gets on board with the plan.
If you feel yourself shying away from writing your plan down, you can find some cool meal planner papers, so it looks better than chicken scratch writing on a plain sheet of paper.
3. Search for Food Ideas with Your Main Ingredients
Once you’ve got your main ingredients and any ideas written down, you can search online for recipes that can use those ingredients. You can search on Google, or a favorite of many people looking for recipes is Pinterest. There are what seems to be endless options for almost any main ingredients that you can think of using.
When you see the meal that you want to make, you can pull the recipe and begin fixing it and know that you have an option that you truly want to eat and aren’t just going for the meal that was planned for Thursday night.
4. Keep the Most Popular Foods You Use On Hand
Keep foods that you use most often on hand so that you don’t end up needing an ingredient that you don’t have. The foods that you use most often are called staples and keeping them on hand will make your life a lot easier when you are trying to cook.
5. Don’t Use Pre-packaged and Processed Foods
One of the fastest ways to make your healthy meal plan go downhill is using pre-packaged and processed foods. These foods don’t taste as good, but not only that, there are many “extras” in these foods that aren’t healthy for your body.
Even if you plan all of your meals, if you have a frozen pizza stashed away in the back of the freezer, you could be tempted to postpone your home cooked meal and “do it tomorrow.” You can look into frozen veggies and fruits, but that’s about it.
Bonus Tip – Double Up
If you have a meal that you don’t mind eating twice in a row or at least close together, it’s time to double up. Prepare enough so that you can eat two days in a row or close together instead of having to prepare when you are hungry. It makes it very difficult to want to prepare a meal when you are hungry. When you can double up the recipe, you at least save yourself from preparing food hungry one of those nights. If you are eating the keto diet, you shouldn’t be hungry at all since high in fat foods feel you feeling full for longer.
Is Meal Planning That Important?
Some people don’t see the importance of meal planning. If you’re going to eat, you’re going to eat. Or at least that is what their reasoning is, but that’s not the case. There are many great benefits to meal planning.
One of the main benefits of planning your meals is that it keeps you on track with your diet, so you don’t disappoint yourself by eating foods that are going to wreck your diet. If you have a plan in place already, you don’t have to decide on the spot which means you only have to carry out the plan you already made and know is the smart thing for you to do.
In addition to keeping you on track, planning your meals can also save you money. When you don’t plan your meals, it is easy for you to blow through money picking up random things that you don’t really need to eat.
We’ve all heard that time is money and that is true. When you plan out your meals, you save time which means you are saving money.
Instead of being in a rush when it comes time to eat, you are going to be well prepared and ready to eat food that is good for your body. Get started with meal planning today and see how it goes.
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