Meal Planning 101

meal planner“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”  - Proverb

Turning theory into practice is by far one of the most challenging aspects of establishing healthy habits with exercise and nutrition. It all comes down to one simple word: planning.

Meal planning, as with any other goal, is no different in that once you make the decision to change; you must establish some rituals and strategies that support your goal of eating healthy.

Healthy eating is based upon the foundation of The 3 “C’s”:

  • Commit to Positive Change
  • Condition  your mindset
  • Create a Plan

Commit to Positive Change

Change can be difficult, but is a necessary and inevitable part of life. Proactive change provides a sense of control over your life and the outcomes you desire. Be specific with the change you want to achieve and in this case, map out the reasons or purpose for wanting to eat well. Focus on a compelling reason that is destined to help you stay committed to your change over time; think of HEALTH as the impetus for change versus one that is short-lived or fleeting.

Condition Your Mindset

Once you’ve committed to positive, healthy change, condition your mindset to reframe how you go about each day. We all have rituals that we follow daily, now the emphasis is to institute new rituals that support your new goals. Your mindset must shift to making eating clean a priority in your life so as time goes on, those rituals and habits become second nature.

Create a Plan

With your mind conditioned and your commitment solidified, its time to put decision into ACTION! There are many strategies and techniques you can use to master meal planning in your life, so find which works best FOR YOU. Use the following as a catalyst to begin in the right direction:

  1. Select a start date for establishing your new meal planning rituals/habits
  2. Arm yourself with the tools for success:
    1. Planner (PDA, smartphone, sticky notes, etc.)
    2. Recipes & cookbooks
    3. Meal-planning apps
    4. Pyrex glass containers
    5. Cooking pans, utensils, gadgets (the VitaMix is a super gadget for making everything from dips to soups to smoothies! http://www.vitamix.com/)
  3. Save Time with Quick Cooking Methods:
    1. Steaming
    2. Grilling
    3. Saute
    4. Baking
  4. Stock Your Pantry/Refrigerator
    1. Spices
    2. Pre-cut veggies, fruit
    3. Nuts/Nut butters
    4. Freeze meats/fish
  5. Cook More Than You Need - Cook in bulk for at least a few days ahead so that when those busy days come, you'll already have meals prepared in advance.
  6. Multi-task - Throw some fish on cedar planks on the grill, toss some chicken in the oven and some veggies in the steamer. Set a timer and while everything cooks, you can start some laundry, wash up from work or start the kids homework while the food is cooking.
  7. Make your own “packaged meals”
  8. Make it a family affair - Encourage everyone in the family to "buy in" to helping plan and prepare meals. Get the input of kids so they learn some healthy nutrition basics.
  9. Calendar Cuisine Days - We all remember "Taco Day" or "Pizza Day" from grade school. To plan your meals, select days in advance that will consist of the same meals or base ingredients each week. Ex. Build your meal around a protein for each dinner such as Monday is  "Wild Salmon night" - then have a variety of veggies to add for your sides. Having some items pre-set will take the stress out of having to decide what to do each night for your meals.

A Few More Tips

Have a plan when you head into the grocery store – know exactly what you are going to get to avoid wasting time browsing. If you see something new and healthy you’d like to try, then by all means pick it up, but we’re focusing on efficiency so get in and get out.

Use a timer. Use an oven timer, egg timer or alarm on your cell phone to set specific times for when food should come out of oven. You can walk away and do other chores or cut your vegetables and not worry about over cooking.

Chop away. When you come home from the grocery store, immediately pull out the cutting board and knives and cut your veggies before even putting them in the fridge.

Pre-package. Place cut veggies into small containers to eat raw or for easy inclusion to recipes later. Most veggies will take less than 10
minutes to steam, sauté or grill. If you want, you can throw veggies into a steamer to cook as meats and fish finish in oven.

* For more healthy eating strategies including recipes and our list of "Foods to Use" and "Foods to Lose", get your copy of Fit Fast Food today!

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