You may have every intention of waking up and sticking to a healthy food routine. Then the morning comes. You’re running late. You grab a piece of fruit (if you’re lucky) and out the door you go. By lunch, you’re starving and the fast food temptation is too much to resist. Process repeat at dinner. You’re so tired by then, who has time to figure out what to eat, let alone cook it?
That’s why meal planning is so important for those trying to get healthy and/or lose weight. It gives you a sense of direction so you’ll be less tempted to grab up something unhealthy.
Here are a few meal planning tips to keep you on track:
Develop a Theme for the Week
Thinking about having enchiladas one night? Great. But think about what other meals you can make using the same or similar ingredients. Maybe the chicken you put in the enchiladas could be used for chicken salad sandwiches. You want your meals to be diverse but complexity is not your friend here. Pick a few ingredients and shape your meal plan around them.
Buy in Bulk
Now, you don’t have to buy a gallon tub of mustard or anything like that, but buying in bulk does have its advantages. After all, once you plan your meals and you pick up the ingredients, you’ll feel committed to the plan. You don’t want that food to go to waste, after all. Having your cupboards, pantry, and fridge stocked with healthy, delicious foods reduces the take-out temptation.
Remember the Snacks!
You might have a clear idea of what you’ll eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But what about the snacks? Failing to work healthy snacks into your meal plan is a recipe for disaster. What if you get hungry before dinner time? Eating chips, cookies, or some other unhealthy treat wouldn’t be too bad, right? But add up all of these unhealthy diversions caused by hunger and you’re bound to negatively impact your health and weight loss efforts. A meal plan only works if it works for you. A few good snack ideas include fruit; veggies and a low-fat dip; pretzel sticks, and yogurt.