You are going home, tired after work and starving…. There is nothing in the fridge, so you pick up your phone, see all the fast-food places and order in. But what if there is a way to save money, make healthier choices when it comes to food, and save the most precious thing you have – time? Meal planning is a big deal nowadays for most people that are on a better lifestyle journey. How to meal plan, you may ask? I have this 5-step guide that will help you maintain your good shape!
How to meal plan? Let’s see all the benefits first!
Although it might seem like something overwhelming at first, you are going to see that with the habit of having your meals prepared, you will save so much time thinking what to eat, how to cook, should you order in. Let’s not forget to mention that you will not make any pointless trips to the grocery store and wondering around there. You do not have to be on a strict diet to plan your meals. You can have the same calories intake as you normally do. What is exactly a meal plan? It is creating a menu for the entire week that will suit your nutrition goals. There are so many benefits to planning your meals ahead, it is like a self-care.
How to meal plan – step 1: Let’s check out kitchen supplies
First thing you are going to need are food containers. I would highly recommend those made of glass. They keep the food fresh for a longer time. Also, they are better if you are going to freeze or microwave the food. This depends on your meal plan style and if you are going to plan only for yourself or for other people as well. There are different sizes for the different meals. Very important is to check your basic ingredients. Once you are sure you have everything, it will make it easier when selecting recipes.
Step 2: Choose your favorite recipes
Take a notepad, use your phone or download a mobile app where you can put down all your favorite recipes. Check your schedule to know what time you will have for the cooking. If you have any food in the freezer already, it is good to use it. As a beginner, try including these ingredients. What I love to do is separate my meals in 3 sections – breakfast, lunch and dinner. For breakfast, you can also do something basic like oatmeal with fruits, chia pudding or yogurt with berries. The most essential meal of the day is a healthy breakfast. When deciding what to eat for lunch and dinner, do not forget the side dishes. Include recipes that you cook frequently and enjoy. Switch up the flavors, protein and cuisine types, so you have a variety. Instant Pot and the crock pot will be your best friends in this adventure.
Step 3: Make your grocery store list and go grab your favorite ingredients
It’s good to write things down, so we do not forget them. It is time to create your list with all the food elements you are going to need for your dishes. Another advice that I can give you is to make the list in categories aligned with your grocery store aisles, trust me on this one, it will save more time than you think. You can also check on the internet if there are sales on any items. Who doesn’t love a good sale? This can help you decide on the menu for the upcoming week. Make sure to check out the frozen section, there are many vegetables mixes there that are very easy to cook. Also, you are going to find frozen berries for the perfect breakfast smoothie. Canned food is also an option when we talk about tuna, for example, for tuna salads, beans or corn. Do not underestimate the power of the convenience items such as ready salad mixes. If you do not have any time to lose, you can buy pre-chopped vegetables and fruits. There are many supermarkets that offer cooked rotisserie chicken. You can select from many options according to your schedule and of course budget.
Step 4: Chop, chop! Let’s cut the veggies and fruit and prepare our protein!
Let’s chop some veggies and fruits! It is good to start your meal preparation on a Sunday, because you are going to have a menu for the whole next week. This is again completely optional. Start with washing your salads, fruits, and vegetables. Then I would suggest using a chopper, if you do not have one, grab your best knife! Prepare your containers and make sure to pour water in those that will need it for the week. For example, when I chop a celery, I pour water in my food container and then the celery. It makes it last longer. For the spinach or other greens, place a piece of a kitchen paper in the container, so it soaks up the excess water. Have you heard about salads in a jar recipes? They are a life-saver when you are on the go. Now for the protein, you can either cook it now and store in the fridge, or marinate it and freeze it to cook later. There are many recipes for a frozen chicken you can try.
Step 5: Cook and enjoy! Here are 6 easy meal plan ideas!
Yes! Your meal plan is ready and in motion! All you need to do is cook now. You can either cook all the dishes and get them ready in the food containers, or you can measure your spices, marinate your proteins and freeze them. It all depends on how much time you want to spend on preparing. Either way, make it as more comfortable and suitable for your needs. Enjoy these 6 ideas for this week’s meal plan!