It’s no secret that eating healthy can be a challenge. We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve failed to plan our meals ahead of time and find ourselves consuming a not so healthy option. However, this doesn’t have to be our reality. We can avoid these situations by practicing meal planning. Meal planning gives you the ability to ensure that all of your breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks are healthy by planning and writing them all down ahead of time. I’ve composed eight tips to help you get started and form a routine:
- Gain a firm grasp on what a suitable meal looks like. For inspiration, check out the Hilton Head Health Wellness and Weight loss Menu. We’ve included both recipes and sample menu’s that will help you lose weight, get more energy, maintain a health lifestyle and achieve your goals.
- Use a template. This will help keep you organized. You can either find a template online, or create your own. I suggesting saving a blank copy so you can reuse this for multiple weeks.
- Write down when you plan on eating your meals. Too many people back-load their calories/energy intake. This is eating most of our food late afternoon and throughout the evening. Avoid going more than five hours without eating something—your food choices may not be as healthy if you are extremely hungry.
- Prioritize breakfast. Plan on eating breakfast as soon after you wake up. We need energy to wake our bodies up versus waiting until 10:00 am to eat something. I suggest a source of protein (e.g., eggs, Greek yogurt, yogurt, cottage cheese, tofu, nuts/seeds, etc.), fruit and/or vegetable and a healthy source of carbohydrates coming from either a whole grain (e.g., oats), fruit or starchy vegetable (e.g., breakfast sweet potatoes).
- Devote a day to prep. This step is crucial. I find preparing a few things on a Sunday helps takes some pressure off for the rest of the week. For example, I make a vegetable based soup, roasted vegetables, a quinoa pilaf, and grilled chicken. These four basic components can be used through out the week, and can either be kept in the fridge or frozen if necessary.
- Cross-utilize ingredients. If salmon is the dinner protein of choice, prepare an extra filet for lunch the next day—throw it on top of a nice spinach strawberry salad. Use spinach in another way. Make a spinach, onion and cheese scramble the next day for breakfast.
- When going out to eat, write in your intended meal and stick to it. Most people are going out to eat at least two or three times per week. Check the restaurant menu before hand, and write the healthiest choice on your meal plan. Commit to this, and don’t look back.
- Trial and learn. Always keep an open mind and continue to make changes. Take the time to document any meals that didn’t satisfy you and make changes accordingly. Once you get more comfortable with meal planning, the more diversified your diet becomes and you will continue to enjoy new recipes, new foods and gain a new outlook on healthy eating.
By practicing these eight easy steps, you’ll be that much closer to achieving your goals! What are some of you favorite meal planning tips and tricks?