A frequently asked question from new clients is, “do you create meal plans?”
And the most frequent reply is, “No.”
This isn’t because I think meal plans are bad. The truth is, following a plan is incredibly useful. I like meal plans. A meal plan is a valuable tool to get you to your health goals.
I’m a proponent of strategies now, fuel later.
But me creating a meal plan for you is contradictory to what I know about successful, sustainable behaviour change.
I want to empower you. I want you to continue making good food choices long after we’ve finished working together.
The way this happens is if you come up with a meal plan that works for you.
You know YOU best
To make long-term health changes and for this to be sustainable for you, you have to eat foods that you enjoy eating. I don’t know what your grandma used to make that you loved! Maybe there is an old family stew recipe that fits in well with your eating guidelines. I don’t have that valuable information.
Meal planning is a way to make food-related decisions in bulk so you don’t have to think about them in drips and drabs later on when your schedule is really busy. Having a plan saves your weekly mental energy.
Putting together your own meal plan allows you to make a new way of eating suit you. What I can do, is share a process that I’ve seen help clients.
Strategise now, fuel later
Here are a few things to think about as you prepare for the week.
1. Plan your meals once a week
Sit down once a week to plan your meals. This usually happens on the weekend. Check your calendar and see roughly how many breakfasts, lunches and dinners you need for the upcoming week.
2. Make a Menu
Focus on five easy meals using ingredients that you enjoy and are in line with your health goals.
Plan to cook double (or triple or quadruple)
When you’re preparing dinner, cook double so you’ll have extra for lunch. One plan, multiple meals!
This is easily done with meals like stews, curries or soups. Make one big batch, and freeze some of it for later one.
What’s more, there is no rule saying that you have to eat something different every single day or that you have to cook every meal from scratch. Building in leftovers into your meal plan is a really helpful way to save time on cooking and also when you’re trying to save time when you’re trying to eat that meal.
A piece of meat can be sliced up with a salad, added to a stir-fry, or chopped up and added to a vegetable curry.
Don’t get all fancy
Life is busy, and we’re all looking for convenience. You don’t need to get creative if you don’t feel like it, especially when you have other things going on. We can create tasty, easy and healthy food.
3. Create a Master Grocery List
Write a “master” shopping list that you can repeat each week, with all the food items that support your health goals. This list can easily be repeated week in and week out. This doesn’t get boring if you’re repurposing a type of food. For example, pepper, broccoli, cabbage and spinach can all be used for salads but also stir-fries.
4. Shop when you’re full and stick to the list
Challenge yourself to only buy what is on your list. And make sure you walk into that grocery store without any hunger pangs.
5. Prep and pack your food
Figure out what you can do now to make your mealtimes easier. Are there proteins you can cook and keep in the fridge for a few days? Is there a curry or stew you can make and freeze? Some clients pre-pack portions of salad or stirfry for their meals ahead of time. This allows you to grab and go, feast and fuel.
Here are some ideas that my clients have come up with:
- Boil a few eggs while having your morning shower
- Roast chops in the oven for the next day while the oven is already on for dinner that night
- Panfry offal (some people love it, some hate it, but we can’t deny it is one of the most nutrient-dense foods you get) on a Sunday for breaking your fast over the next two to three days
- Make your own bone broth and use it as a drink, add it to soup or create really flavourful stew
You have to learn how to eat well, and sustainably. What processes can you put in now, that will support your health goals? And how might you be agile and flexible so that you can still succeed when things don’t go as planned?
Strategise now, fuel later!
If you have eating changes that you’d like to put in place, and you’re not finding yourself over that first hurdle, know that you’re not alone! Reach out to me for a free health coaching discovery session to see what working with me might look like. Contact me here.