How to Meal Plan
Meal planning tends to be a bit of a marmite situation, some people swear by it and do it religiously every week while some people hate it and feel restricted by the idea. However sitting down at the start of the week, creating a meal plan, writing a shopping list and buying all the ingredients you need is without a doubt the best way to ensure you always have delicious, nutritious food to eat! Knowing that you have meals on hand ready to go means that you are much less likely to get caught out and end up eating ready meals, takeaways or eating out. Whenever people ask me how I stay on track and how my food is always appetising, my answer is meal planning every single time! Not only does it take so much of the stress out of choosing what to cook, it is also so much more cost efficient and it wastes much less food. Meal planning can seem daunting at first, and it will require you to set aside some time to think your week through, but it can be incredibly easy with a few useful tips that I will share with you.
MY Top tips:
Sit down on a Sunday and plan 5 meals for the week
I find 5 to be the perfect number, it means you have the weekdays covered and have some flexibility at the weekend to eat out and be spontaneous.
Work with your diary and create a shopping list as you go
Sit down with your diary and plan the meals around what you have on that week. Gym class on a Tuesday evening? You may want a more filling meal to refuel that day. Write all of your meals out and write your shopping list as you go. I love using the printable lists I created (seen in the photo above) that are part of my e-book, the details on how to get them will be at the end of this post!
Always cook extra
If you are already cooking, you may as well throw some more in! This is the best way to keep your fridge and freezer stocked with ready to go, healthy meals. I also often base my lunches off leftovers, so cooking extra gives me one less thing to worry about.
Have some quick options
While you may want to include one slow cooker dish for a day that you are at home, it is equally as important to have at least 1-2 quick 30 min recipes in your meal plan for the week so that you have something simple for those crazy days.
Plan a few breakfasts, lunches and snacks
It doesn't really work for me to plan rigid breakfast, lunches and snacks for each day. Instead, jot a couple of options for each down for the whole week and make sure you have those options in the house so that you always have something to reach for.
Include foods that you love!
What is the point in planning meals and not picking what you are craving? People often end up hating meal planning because they are restricting too much when creating their plans. So put that pasta dish or those homemade pizzas on the meal plan and enjoy them!
How I structure my meal plans:
I find the best way to plan out a week is to follow the following structure. It ensures you are meeting important nutritional requirements such as your omega-3s, iron, zinc and protein. It also ensures you are eating a wonderful variety of meals! I know fish can be scary if you aren't used to cooking it, but it really is so easy and is so important in our diets. So I urge you to be adventurous and learn to cook new things, there are so many wonderful recipes out there. For my vegan and veggie friends, just make sure to have a source of plant-based protein with each meal and to have a varied diet!
My Meal Planning Guide
This is just a quick overview to give you the basics of meal planning, if you are looking for more guidance, information and resources then check out my free 10 page guide to meal planning. Not only does it include in-depth information about how to structure your meal plan, choose dishes and eat healthily, it also includes a sample meal plan, my kitchen staples, the printable templates in the photo above and my favourite recipe sources. You will be ready to smash your meal plans each week with all this info! If you are interested, just click the photo below and it will take you to the page to sign up for the download!