Meal planning. Some people enjoy it while others absolutely dread the thought of it. For those of you who aren’t familiar with meal planning, it’s basically how you organize yourself to cook a meal. A number of us find it easiest to carve out a few hours once a week to prepare meals for the next seven days. It sounds easy enough, right? On the other hand, plenty of folks get in the habit of stopping by the grocery store after work for what’s needed to cook dinner. Our suggestion is that you do what’s most convenient for you. What works for you may not work for your gym buddy. Here are Atlas Nutrition’s 10 tips for healthy meal planning:
- Look for recipes – It’s easy to get bored cooking. We settle for making the same dishes because that’s what we’re familiar with. It’s time to ditch that thinking once and for all! There are countless recipe websites out there that we’re certain you will love. Plus, you don’t have to be an expert chef to make something delicious. An added benefit of making a variety of meals is that you won’t feel the temptation to go out to eat as often.
- Ask others what dishes they enjoy – Meal planning can seem daunting at times. Don’t be afraid to take a step back and ask friends, family, and co-workers what they like. It could be you’ll discover your next favorite meal by simply having a conversation with someone.
- Keep a meal journal – This is a great way to stay organized with meal planning. Consider using a blank monthly calendar and planning the week’s meals during the weekend. Feel free to get your spouse and/or children involved. Slowly but surely, you will create an extensive database of meals. This is perfect for when you’re completely out of ideas of what to make. Just flip back the calendar a few months (or years) and find that perfect dinner.
- Have theme nights – These work great for those with kids. For example, Monday is pasta, Tuesday is fish, Wednesday is chicken, Thursday is leftovers, and Friday is make-your-own pizza night. You can even encourage your children to help you prepare some of the meals. Theme nights also allow you stock up on necessary ingredients weeks (or months) in advance.
- Choose a shopping day and make a list – It sounds incredibly simple yet many people go to the store on random days and do so without any sort of list. In order for meal planning to be successful, you have to shop purposefully. So take a look at your recipes and make a list of what you need. Even just a blank index card should do the trick.
- See what’s on sale – Are you on a tight budget but still want to meal plan? It never hurts to check online circulars for can’t-miss sales on ingredients. You can take things a step further by actually planning your meals around what’s on sale.
- Plan for leftovers – This is a critical part of meal planning. While some of us can eat leftovers for lunch all week, others can only stand it for one other meal and that’s it. Whatever the case, make a little extra of everything. Just be sure to invest in quality food storage containers.
- Be smart about freezing – You’d be surprised how many things (sauces, soups, stews, etc.) can be frozen for an extended period of time with good results. It’s all the more reason to make a double batch.
- Keep the fridge organized – It’s easy to get excited about meal planning only to completely pack the refrigerator when you return from the store. What’s likely to happen here is that you forget about things pushed to the very back. This can become costly in a hurry. Make an effort to keep the fridge organized with a sensible, realistic amount of food in it.
- Keep a well-stocked pantry – Meal planning is a breeze when your pantry is well-stocked. Plus, by seeing you have the necessary ingredients to make that delicious dish, there’s a good chance you’ll make it.
How Our Personal Trainer Can Help
Atlas Nutrition wants to help you achieve your personal fitness and nutrition goals. The right meal planning strategy goes a long way. From creating customized weight training strategies to weight loss plans, you can feel confident with our fitness coach by your side.
See what a Fort Collins meal planner can do for you. Call now to get started on a revamped nutrition and fitness plan.