Be Excited, fitfam, fitness enthusiast and cooks!
Meal planning is the topic & a fun topic at that.. you will soon see.
I have had people ask me rather lately how to go about meal planning and why they should consider it, considering so many people do this nowadays and I am not sure if it is a “fad” or just a way of life, but for me, it is a lifestyle choice that I made about 6 months ago or so.. and it has turned out to be amazing for me. Now I know some people have done this and it didn’t work out, and that is okay- everybody has their own thing that works for them and their family. I know people who don’t like the fact how time consuming it is, think it is tedious, and very stressful at times, and some find it be repetitive and don’t see the cost effectiveness of it. I am sure all of you have your reasons as to why you like it or don’t like it, and no worries, I look forward to having you share that with me in the comment section — so feel free to do so.
I could write a REALLY long “how to” about meal planning and make you read through everything and fall asleep half way, or I could do one better and tell you how I meal plan for myself – this way it is real life & still gets to the point without all the extra. Now for starters, meal planning can be done in so many different ways with a variety of foods; people can make it extensive and lengthy or short and sweet and people can make it more expensive or budget friendly. I have seen videos where people meal plan with the help of their spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend and kids — so if you don’t want to do it alone, this is where family comes in. Now meal planning goes this way, if you like to cook and have fun in the kitchen; this is something that won’t be dreadful, but if don’t like cooking and don’t know how, it might start off frustrating but it doesn’t have to be ( I will help give you some ideas for that). As I go along explaining things, I may hit or miss some topics, so please if something isn’t mentioned and you want me to hit on it, please leave it the comments and I will; and if you are someone who wants to share your own tips/advice, feel free in my comment section as well. Time to get started.
- Why am I meal planning?
- To cook more often
- To spend less money at the grocery store
- because of my schedule
- to give me a reason to start eating healthier
- to bring the family together
- because you enjoy organization
- to have you pack for lunch instead of eating out
- to motivate you to lose weight
- to help get you prepped for your next competition
- You are an athlete
- You want to learn how to cook
- you like to experiment in the kitchen
Whatever your reason is, that comes first, because this will determine how you want to go about meal planning and whether you plan on making it a long term investment or a short term experience. I for one, made this a long term investment because I love to cook, I am an athlete (on and off), I spend less money (in my opinion), it motivates me to eat healthier and provides me a means to pack my lunches for work vs having to eat out, and it has provided me ways to try a variety of foods in the process – made me a better cook too (although I was already pretty amazing at it).
2. What Am I meal planning?
- work only meals
- pre and post gym meals
- breakfast/lunch and dinner
What are you wanting to mealplan in? If it is everything, then you will have your hands full, BUT it can be done and can be just as fun but will require patience, If it is one meal vs all of them, then it will be easier but still provide some time and some patience .. depending on the length of time you want to meal plan for..
3. How long do you want to set the meal plan for?
- A week long meal plan
- month long meal plan
- 2-3 days worth of meal plans
- a couple of weeks
The length of time you want to meal plan for with each meal you make will determine how much money, how much food, how many servings, and how much time you want to put aside for it. For someone who wants do a monthly meal plan – it will take more food, more time, and more space in the fridge/freezer, and it will determine how long you plan on eating the same meal. Some people like myself, meal plan for 2-3 days ahead, and sometimes I will do a weekly one. The longest I have done is 2 weeks worth and that was not so bad, but it tested how much I really liked my meal.. to have to eat the same thing for 2 weeks straight, luckily I still like it. For some people, they cannot eat the same food after eating it the day before, so they will meal plan for just the day and take it a day at a time.. so if it works for you, it works for you.
4. Buying the right containers for the meal prep
- how many you need to invest in
- quality of the containers – how durable they are
- are they microwavable, freezable
- can they be thrown in the dishwasher or have be thrown away after use
- are they portable enough where they can fit your everyday bag or backpack, etc
I personally think this is a big deal because containers can make and break your food, some are not good quality and will prohibit your food from lasting as long, not to mention, you want decent sizes because you want to make sure it will fit everything you are cooking (but keep this in mind as well, you won’t want to shove so much food in a container where it doesn’t fit with a proper lid), You don’t need to spend so much money on containers but just keep in mind how you should go about choosing them,
5. Who are you meal planning for?
- Family members (kids, spouse, family dog)
- your coworkers
who knows, but you know, and depending on who you are meal planning for can determine how much food you want to cook, how much time you will have to invest in each meal and take into consideration that not everyone will want to eat the same foods as you. I meal plan for myself and it works out fine (honestly the less food I have to share, the easier it is on me) LOL.
Now that we hit the basics, I think we can skip ahead to “what is meal planning”? Meal planning is basically being able to come up with a menu item that you want to cook that will last you a certain amount of time.
How Does Shay Meal Plan, Let’s ask her…
- I use pinterest when my brain fails to come up with recipes (this helps people who don’t know how to cook, people you like adventure, people who like experimenting and those that need new ideas in the kitchen) not to mention, if you are a cook, then you can post your recipes on the site and share it among others
- After deciding what I am going to cook, I decide what day of the week I want to start the meal plan and how long I want it to last. I am kind of weird, I prefer to start on Sunday or Monday and make it last for 2-3 days, sometimes a week and then start the cycle all over again
- After cooking the meal, I transfer it to a container and leave 1-2 containers in the fridge and the rest in the freezer to keep it from going bad – also because you never know if I decide to not eat one day or go out with friends instead, that way I am not wasting food I cooked
What I failed to mention in those steps, is I determine if the meal I am cooking is cost effective, if it has a variety of food groups, if the servings make sense to me (will I have more veggies or more carbs, etc), and whether or not I could eat the meal for the specific time frame without getting bored and venturing off to something that I want to avoid or eat less of. Chances are if you meal plan the right way, you shouldn’t have to venture off the beaten path unless it is for a reason outside of being bored from eating the same meal over and over again – due to you choosing how long you will make that meal last. You are in total control when you meal plan, so the excuses you use, well are just excuses because you can determine whether to meal plan day to day or weekly.
- I meal plan for dinner ( I don’t do it for any other meals of the day)
- I choose meals that are protein based and add my veggies to it and my own carbs. (ex. I make my meals around the main dish, if I make baked chicken, then I choose the veggie and carb for the meal) it is easier that way.. instead of finding a recipe for each food group. Although I have found veggie based recipes and used them when I don’t want to take the easy way out or if I want something new.
- If the meal I meal plan isn’t filling, then I either find a reasonable snack (although I don’t keep snacks at my house, when I want them, I shop for it at that time) or I don’t get any! lol. or I reevaluate the size of container I used and determine if I need to use a bigger one for next time or a smaller one if I didn’t finish the meal; that way I don’t go to bed hungry or waste it, I know people sometimes say just drink more water, but sometimes we don’t want to and if you skipped a meal from earlier, it just means you need another serving or a snack- that is okay. Don’t be afraid to eat.
- I meal plan according to my goals (weight loss, bulking, maintenance, competition prep, etc) this I find very helpful.
So honestly, this was still a lot of content to read, but hopefully it was helpful for some of you new to this, and will answer some questions. I really do mean it, when I say don’t be afraid to eat, you are allowed to get seconds and I am not going to judge you, because I have gotten seconds of something before (yesterday to be exact at my Christmas work event), I know we want to stay within certain serving sizes and not overeat, but you can eat seconds when you are hungry & not feel bad for it. I never feel bad for it, lol. — shit truth be told, I had third and fourths at the party! do I regret it? no, did I gain 10-20 lb , no. Am I ashamed? hell no, I have to eat to keep up my gains & I know what I am doing when I do it.. I hold myself accountable – not to mention I keep track of my macros and if I decide to be a bad girl and eat more, then I did it, if I stay within my macros like a princess, then it is what it is. —— this was just a tidbit of my opinion,
Thanks for reading and I am thankful for your patience as well, since I haven’t posted my workouts these past couple of days, I have been studying – but once things start to slow down a bit after the holidays, things should be back to “normal”. Feel free to share, comment, follow.
Your Fitness blogger,