Saturday, May 2, 2015

Meal Planning - Tips that have worked for me

inspiration: meal planning - what i find has worked well for me

As you know, I'm a Beachbody coach and I want to inspire and support others in their fitness journeys! I do advocate for Beachbody workouts and products because they've worked first-hand for me, but I do love motivating and encouraging others and celebrating victories big and small along the way with people, regardless of if they are my customers or not.

But here's a topic that I used to HATE thinking about, but now, it has become a routine. Yes, we fall off the wagon, but it's during the time where I've fallen off that I remember how critical meal planning is for staying on track with your fitness goals!

Nothing is more true when you're trying to lose weight or tone up or just feel healthier overall than those two statements. Diet is EVERYTHING. And if you don't plan properly, you will either: not see results when trying to lose weight; you'll work out and work out and never see optimal results; and if you continue to perpetuate bad habits, you'll always feel the way you do now.

So here's my story, followed by tips that I've found work best for me! This is a personal blog, so what works best for me may not work best for you, but I'll share my experiences anyway.

Reasons why I was skeptical/resistant to the idea of meal planning (specifically, with regard to a healthier diet).

1. "It's too expensive to always eat clean."
2. "I don't have time to plan one week of meals in advance."
3. "I can't cook"

The changes I had to make in my mental mindset:

1. "It's too expensive to always eat clean.
It's true that organic produce and organic meats are more expensive than easy-and-quick frozen meals and fast food. But if you think about it: the reasons processed foods are so cheap is because it's cheap to make. And if you're eating something that's cheap to make, it's probably going to lack quality and not be very good for you.

Also, when I did an evaluation of what we spent on food when we aren't a) sticking to a budget and b) meal planning, it wasn't uncommon for us to spend $200 in two or three weeks on lunches and dinners and eating out. We definitely treat ourselves to date nights when we have money, but in general, $100 a week on quick-and-convenient meals because we didn't plan ahead is almost DOUBLE what I spend to go to the grocery store and BUY food for the week.

So if you think it's "too expensive" to eat clean and meal plan, I challenge you to take a look at your bank account and calculate how much you spend on fast food.

2. "I don't have time to plan one week of meals in advance"
Real talk: I spend several hours on Sundays (typically) doing meal prep for the entire week. That's two or three hours I could spend watching Netflix or on Facebook. Wait, did I really just say that?! For me, my Sunday afternoons are pretty wide-open, but I always used the "I'm too busy" excuse. Once I actually made time to cook healthy meals to eat during the week, I realized that, yes, my time is valuable, but it's all about priorities. I can spend my Sunday's relaxing the day away and not doing anything, or I could be productive and eat healthier.

Meal planning IS a time investment. But it's worth it!

3. I can't cook.
This is still true. But literally, you can look up "easy recipes for ____" and there will be an easy-to-follow recipe. I have a few recipes that I've perfected over the years, but even to this day, whenever I google a new recipe to try, if I click on the link and there are more than 10 steps and the directions are hard for me to follow, I'll look for another one.

Don't be afraid to try new things.
Don't be afraid to mess up. There are PLENTY of things I've cooked where Holden or me has said, "Well, that wasn't good...Never making this again."

Tips I would give to people who want to try:

1. Go for it! You'll never know if you never try. Your first week or two, you'll have to figure out what works best for you.

2. Go through your pantry and see what you ALREADY have. If you have the things to make spaghetti for the week, then you don't need to get those items at the store. Knowing what you already have available is important.

3. Plan your meals based on your pantry, as well as what you/your family enjoys eating. I know that right now in the pantry, I have enough ingredients to make baked ziti (except for the meat). I can eat that all week, but Holden will probably only eat it for one or two days. This means, I need to cook something else that he really enjoys for those other three or four days for dinner. I may not make that meal on Sunday, but I can plan to cook again on Tuesday or Wednesday night and I'll already have the ingredients (so that will eliminate the fast food temptations!)

4. Know how often you eat (or should be eating):
My typical eating schedule is:
  • Shakeology after my workout (either at home or on the way to work)
  • Breakfast (which I eat at work)
  • Snack (work)
  • Lunch (work)
  • Snack (work)
  • Dinner (home)

I have a rotating schedule of breakfasts and snacks:
  • Oatmeal and fruit (breakfast/snack)
  • Greek yogurt and fruit (breakfast/snack)
  • Breakfast casserole of some sort (breakfast)
  • Cereal + milk (breakfast)
  • Fruit and peanut butter (snack)
  • String cheese (snack)
Find what you enjoy eating, that's HEALTHY and FILLING!

My typical lunches:
  • A protein of some sort (chicken and fish are my go-tos)
  • At least two veggies (I tend to rotate between broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, salads)

  • Baked Ziti
  • Chicken, bacon, ranch pasta
  • Porkchops
  • Pizza (not healthy, but good for a fast-food temptation breaker ;))

Where I shop:
  • Bi-Lo (because of Fuel Perks!)
  • Harris Teeter (because it's convenient to work)
  • Trader Joe's (they have wonderful selection of frozen items and their cheap!)

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