Saturday, January 2, 2016

Top Meal Planning Tips For The Beginner

Normally each Sunday you have been getting an update from me on our progress with Hammer and Chisel and how it is going. Instead this week you are going to get my top meal planning tips for those looking to learn this new habit in the New Year. I spent all of Christmas vacation sick as can be with a fever, bronchitis, a sinus infection and an ear infection. Pair that with Christmas traveling and lots of holiday meals, you get a recipe for a redo on week 4 of Hammer and Chisel for me. So tomorrow is my fresh start. Meal plan is done. Going to do some grocery shopping and prepping later today so I can feel more confident about the week ahead of us.

You may read my post and see my colored coded weekly menus and think one of two things.

1. What the heck do all of those colors mean and why does she do this each week?
2. This chick is nuts. Who the heck plans out everything they are going to eat for a week at a time. Surely she does not do this ALL the time does she?

Truth is yep I do. EVERY single week. For almost two years straight now. It's a very normal routine of mine that was a learned habit. Which is good news because it means you can learn it too with a little practice. And to answer all of the questions I get about why it is colored coded and what the colors mean. I learned how to eat this way when I did the 21 day fix. The program taught me portion control and helped to me better know what I needed to fuel my body with each day. There is a formula for how much and what you should be having each day but my formula looks like break down listed below. The program came with containers to teach me what the portions for each of these categories look like too. After two years I have it down and can eye ball portions like a pro. What I found was that while I was eating pretty healthy I wasn't having enough of everything and some of my portions were well lets be honest, way too big.

Each day I strive to have the following
4 servings of protein (Red)
3 servings of vegetables (Green)
2 servings of fruit (Purple)
2 servings of carbs (Yellow)
1 serving of healthy fats/ cheese (Blue)
1 serving of seeds and dressings (Orange)

So now comes the fun part - getting started. First things first sit down with your grocery list and a white board or some type of board where you can write the dinners down for the week for everyone to see. Ask your family what they would like to eat for the week. If it is something that is not so healthy I challenge you to get on Pinterest and find a "cleaner" swap for how to modify that meal. Chances are most of the time they won't even notice you changed things up to make it healthier. Buy in is SUPER important if you live with others. You don't want to be making different dinners for everyone. Nobody has time for that. Adapting meals everyone is used to makes it easier than rocking their world with an all new way of eating. Start with baby steps.

Once you get your suggestions then I challenge you to take a look at your pantry and see what you have on hand that you can use up this coming week. My big strength is that since I plan each weeks meals out ahead of time I don't have much wasted food or random food laying around. Everything tends to get used up. Speaking of the pantry do a quick overhaul and get rid of any junk food thats going to derail you from your hard work you just did during your meal planning.

As I plan the dinners and meals for the week I immediately put my needed items for the meals on my grocery list. Nothing is more annoying than planning a dinner only to find your missing important ingredients and can't make it. I try my best to look for ways to spread out the ingredients I am going to use for the week in other meals so I don't waste things. For example when buying fresh herbs see what else you can use them in so they don't just rot away in the fridge. We are a huge fan of fresh basil in our house. When I have to buy it in the winter months often the portion is enough for more than one meal, so you typically will see basil somewhere twice that week on the menu.

I would suggest that a newbie start with just planning dinners at first. Ease into your lunches, breakfasts and snacks. That was very time consuming at first and quite honestly a little frustrating when I added in color coding that took it to another level. It used to take me almost 2 hours to do a weeks worth of meal plans. Then I got quicker. Not it normally takes me 25 - 30 minutes as long as I am uninterrupted. I find for my clients this is the most frustrating part of starting a new lifestyle they often don't know where to start. Staying simple is also great if you are new at this. You don't have to have 5 - 7 fancy elaborate meals. Pick 2 or 3 and repeat them while you are getting the hang of it.

Once you make your meal plan head out to the grocery store and stick to the list. Don't add stuff you don't need to the cart. It will save you money and calories.

At home save yourself some headache during the week and prep some of that food ahead of time into portions. The more you can do ahead of time the less of a pain this is during your busy work week and the less likely you won't bother to use the food. (Yes that happens sometimes - cutting and washing and portioning is lots of work, lets be honest.)

Don't stress about this! Celebrate the fact that you are making an effort. Some weeks your going to skip the meal you planned some days you will switch up the planned meals day to a different one. Trust me life is going to happen. Your doing great! Congrats on getting healthy and organized!!!

Please feel free to reach out to me with more meal planning questions or if you are interested in joining my next online accountability and support group. I am currently taking new challengers who are ready for a lifestyle change in 2016.

Fill out my online form.
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