11 May 2020
Meal planning – A Nutritionist’s tips for success
11 May 2020
In my last post we talked about recognizing the role stress plays on our ability to make decisions and how that affects our food choices.
Today I want to look at a simple thing we can do to create healthy food habits that are easy, effective and don’t take up too much of your brain during stressful times – meal planning.
I find the easiest way to start meal planning is to make a point each week to sit down (with a cup of tea!) and plan out your meals, including snacks for the week.
One common pitfall I often see with meal planning is people feel pressured to make 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 7 dinners that are all Pinterest Award winners! Then by day two of the meal plan they are burnt out from all the time in the kitchen and the rest of the week ends up with take out and food waste.
Instead, what I recommend is picking 2-3 easy breakfasts like:
1. Smoothies – greek yogurt or protein powder, frozen berries, spinach, coconut milk is a great place to start
2. Veggie Omelettes – two eggs, spinach, onions, mushrooms, goat cheese
3. Greek Yogurt, sliced almonds and blueberries
Lunches can be easy too, for example:
1. Leftover dinner
2. Salads, with chicken, fish or mixed beans. And by changing up the salad dressing or toppings, like goat cheese one day, pumpkin seeds the next, hemp heart the third….you get variety without a lot of extra work.
Dinners – even with dinners I would recommend, depending on the size of your family, only picking 3-4 recipes and cooking bigger batches so that you can have leftovers. You can even cook a little extra to add to lunches. For example, making chicken curry? Cook up one extra chicken breast to add to your salad the next day. Grilling veggies for dinner? Grill some extras to add to your lunch.
For Snacks – keep it simple by looking at what your main recipes call for and use the same ingredients for snacks. If Wednesday’s salad calls for walnuts and strawberries as a topping, then how about strawberries and walnuts as your snack for Thursday? Broccoli on the side of your Salmon dinner Monday? Try some raw broccoli with hummus for your snack on Tuesday. There are also some things you can batch make on the weekend that can be really helpful to have on hand all week. Hard boil 6-8 eggs all at once instead of doing 2 each day. Bake a pan of chicken so you have ready protein to add to any snack or meal. Protein balls, healthy bars and muffins can also nicely round out your snack options.
- Carve out time every week to meal plan, preferably at the same time so that it becomes a habit
- Build your grocery list from the plan
- Don’t go overboard with the selection – 2-3 breakfasts, 2-3 lunches, 3-4 dinners and snacks using the same ingredients as your meals helps keep things simple
- Plan 2-3 hours on a less busy day to do some batch cooking to take the stress off cooking every day
- If planning for the whole week stresses you out start small with only planning dinners, or only planning 2-3 days a week and expand from there
- Remove the expectation that every meal will be Pinterest Perfect. Ask yourself, does the meal have a veg and a protein? If yes, that’s a great start!
- Ask for help! – Nutritionists can help you by making a custom meal plan for you that will match your lifestyle. Book an appointment with me to learn how to make it a part of a healthy lifestyle!
Eating healthy can be easy, tasty and not take up all your free time with the simple addition of a meal planning habit!
Happy meal planning!
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