If I had to pick one of the most important tools when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, it would be creating and following a weekly meal plan. There are so many wonderful benefits to having a meal plan, such as:
• You can create more-balanced meals
• Eat fewer processed foods
• Spend less money at the grocery store and waste less food
• Cut down on the stress of what you are going to prepare or pick-up
• Spend more quality time with your family around the kitchen table rather than at the drive-thru
Yet even with all these amazing pluses, I can almost feel you cringe at the idea of creating a meal plan. Perhaps you would love to make a plan, but this week is really just too busy so there is really no point. Or maybe you’ve tried making meal plans in the past and ended up just buying a bunch of groceries only to eat out instead. Sound familiar? It’s not the meal plan that didn’t work for you it’s the way you went about creating it.
Be Realistic About Creating a Meal Plan
If you have never actually turned on your stove, you are probably not going to make five new dinners from scratch this week. But if you grill some extra chicken breasts on Sunday, you can use them in your salads for lunch, chop one up with some rice and veggies for a quick stir-fry, or shred another one and it mix with tomato sauce for an easy chicken bolognaise. There, you have created three new distinct meals from your normal Sunday barbecue!
Think About Your Schedule
If you know you have your kids’ sporting events three out of the seven nights of the week, don’t buy groceries that will only sit in your refrigerator and go bad. Sometimes, eating out or grabbing something quick is the reality of a busy life. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t plan for it. Instead, think about what is close to where you will be and find some healthy options for you and your family. You can use the Healthy Dining Finder to locate different restaurants in your area and plan what you will eat before you get there.
Write Down Your Meal Plan
Although we may think that we can keep a running meal plan in our heads, the simple act of writing it down will make it much more likely to happen. Don’t put your meal planning off until the weekend since – despite our best intentions – our weekends tend to be over booked. When things get hectic, meal planning will be one of the first things that falls through the cracks. Instead, block off 20 minutes during your workday to plan your meals for the following week. It may seem impossible at first to fit a weekly meal plan into your schedule, but the time you will save each day not stressing about what you are going to eat or aimlessly wandering the aisles of the grocery store will more than make up for it. To get you started, we’ve created an easy-to-follow meal-plan worksheet for you to download.
Article first appeared on TotalGymDirect.com