Meal planning can be easy if you just focus on a healthy dietary pattern. According to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, The overall body of evidence identifies that a healthy dietary pattern in higher in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes and nuts; moderate in alcohol, lower in red and processed meats; and low in sugar-sweetened foods and drinks and refined grains.
Take this pattern, and combine the veggies, fruits, whole grain, low- to non-fat dairy, legumes, and nuts into easy and planned out meals for your week!
Basic Recommendations for Meal planning:
1. Use 9-inch plates
By using the correctly sized plate, you can almost guarantee that you get the correct portion size. If you use a larger plate you are more likely to add too much food to fill the plate, thus run the risk of over-eating.
2. Quarter, Quarter, half rule
A quarter of your plate should starch, a quarter should be healthy protein and half of the plate should be non-starchy vegetables. This may be surprising compared the norm of American's plates, however, we should always be consuming twice as much vegetables as anything else on our plate.
3. Small Frequent Meals
These can consist of breakfast, Fit Bite (small low-calorie nutritious snack) Lunch, Fit Bite, Dinner, Fit Bite
Once you know which ingredients to buy, and which portions you need, you are ready to start meal planning!
Meal Planning in 4 steps:
1. Start with your ingredients/recipes
Have a meal map, or collection of recipes and ideas to provide structure to help keep you on track.
2. Record your nutrition behaviors
3. Plan a one day or a week of meals
The freezer is your friend! Plan out a week of meals , place in Tupperware containers and place in freezer until ready to be eaten. This will help with portion control and make for easy and on-the-go meals already prepared for you.
4. Create a Nutrition Kit
Remember, meal planning doesn't need to be complicated. Keep in mind the types of foods you enjoy and focus on the portion and balance of starch, protein and vegetables, gather and cook recipes, portion them out and save for later and viola-you're meal planning!