Steps to successful meal planning

5 Steps to Successful Meal Planning From an RD

by Offain Gunasekara & Medical Review Board

After a long day at work, it can be difficult to make healthy food choices, especially when the last thing on your mind is cooking. At that point, you are desperate for the easiest and fastest option out there, which often includes fast-food restaurants. If you are trying to eat healthier this new year, you need to set intentions and plan out your weekly meals. Preparing and planning meals in advance will help you avoid those moments of weakness and keep you on track to a healthier lifestyle.

Here are 5 steps to successful meal planning:

Dedicate time each week to creating your plan

Dedicating time each week to create a meal plan can not only help you stick to your healthy eating goals, but it also can help you save money, save time, waste less, and stress less. 

Schedule at least 30 minutes on your calendar to sit down and get organized for the week. Try treating meal planning prep as an important appointment, so it becomes a priority in your weekly routine. 

Choose your recipes

To create a meal plan, choose the recipes you want to cook and eat for the next 5-7 days. This is possibly the most important step in meal planning. Include what you will be having for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks throughout the day. 

If you aren’t much of a cook, then starting slow is going to help you be successful in meal planning. Start with simple meals, like a salad with grilled chicken, chicken quesadillas, and overnight oatmeal with fruit. Once you master a few staples, you will feel more confident about planning and cooking more difficult recipes and can start to venture out.

You can look for recipe inspiration online, but be sure the recipes you’re choosing fit within your dietary plan. This is something we have included with our 6-month ShapePro weight loss program.

Create your grocery list and go shopping

After you have decided on the recipes you want to make for the week, create your grocery list. Compile all the ingredients needed in your recipes into one list. Next, take inventory of what items you already have in your pantry or refrigerator from the previous week. 

Creating grocery lists not only saves time and money but also allows you to make smarter decisions when it comes to grocery shopping. It is crucial that you stick to the list you have and avoid adding extra temptations to your cart. 

Another great tool to use for grocery shopping is a grocery delivery service. This service is as simple as ordering your groceries online and having them delivered to your door. This is time-efficient and cuts down on purchasing those last-minute unhealthy items, especially at the checkout lane.

Prep and cook your meals

Once you have all of your groceries and your meal plan ready, it’s time to prep and cook your food. To avoid wasting food during the week, prep your produce as soon as you get home from the store. Taking the extra few minutes to wash and store your produce will save you time during the week and encourage you to use up all of the produce you have already prepped. 

Stick to your plan

Now that you have prepped and prepared all of your meals for the week, the key is sticking to the plan. Pack your lunch and snacks for the workday the night before and be sure to grab it on the way out in the morning. Not only will this ensure that you have food for the workday, but it will help you avoid going out to eat for your lunch break, possibly making poor food choices. Try to avoid last-minute outings for dinner during the week if possible since you already have your food prepared at home. 

Planning and prepping your meals will help you start off the week feeling in control and ready to conquer anything thrown at you. Although it can be hard to find time in your schedule to plan, cook, and prepare your meals, dedicating this time to yourself and your goals is a commitment to your goals and health. 

How can ShapePro help you?

If you’re having a hard time and need the advice from an expert, ask for help! Highly trained dietitians are pros and can help you find time in your busy schedule to create these habits. They will help you create a custom plan, choose recipes, and hold you accountable as you work towards your weight loss and health goals.

Ready to get started on your weight loss journey? Call 888-279-0099 today. 

Always consult with your practitioner or other qualified healthcare specialists when considering changes to your health, diet, or exercise routine. This information is not intended to substitute professional medical advice.