We are more than 45 days into the new year. How are your new year goals going? I have found meal planning is key to continued success when the goal is health and fitness.
Food is key for energy, life and fuel. Your car can’t go without gas and neither can you. But it can get tough especially when you have a family. Busy schedules, kids activities and time constraints can sometimes make it seem difficult to get it done. But it can be done.
I live and breathe by calendars – electronic and hard copy. I even use a calendar to help with my meal planning. It helps give me an idea with some flexiblity for meals that are quick, easy and nutritious.
The idea for meals for the week
Meal planning is a combination of what I want as well as what’s on sale in the ads each week, specifically the protein and produce. I prefer to buy protein that’s on sale. Then pair it with vegetables that are in season or frozen veggies that are on sale.
For example, if chicken breasts are on sale, I usually buy in bulk and then break it down into several recipes: chicken tenders, fajitas, grilled chicken or oven roasted chicken. If ground beef or ground turkey is on sale, I use my go-to recipes burgers, chili, spaghetti and meatballs.
To fill in the gaps we keep a well stocked pantry: canned goods, pasta, rice, chicken stock, etc. It’s much easier for us to have a bunch of tried and true recipes.
Meal planning made simple
To keep it simple, I have a short list of our meal planning system. Hopefully it will help you too.
1. Check your local ads. Buy a protein that is on sale and pair it with the vegetable that is in season.
2. Keep a well stocked pantry to fill in the gaps.
Add fruits and vegetables
You can add fresh, frozen or canned vegetables and fruit. I usually have a combination of fresh and frozen in my meals.
I keep a stash of frozen vegetables like green beans, cauliflower rice and broccoli in the freezer. I also try my best to keep peppers, onions, scallions and lettuce in the refrigerator. You never know when you want to add some color and flavor to a dish.
Items in the pantry
I always have rice, pasta, potatoes and beans in the pantry. They are easy and quick to prep.
This week I wanted something a little different so I bought a bag of quinoa to add to the mix. I like to pair it with chicken and some fish.
Rice and potatoes are long standing staples. Red and sweet potatoes can be baked, boiled or sometimes I toss them in the air fryer.
Does meal planning help?
I have found that it definitely can save time in the long run.
Your meal planning can be done as you decide on what you are headed to the grocery store for that week. I definitely would allow for some wiggle room because you may not want exactly what was planned on that day. But by having staples in your fridge, freezer and pantry, it allows for some creativity.
And let’s face it, there will be some days that you want to eat out.
As far as reaching your health and fitness goals, we have all heard the saying, “You can’t out train a bad diet.” Well, it’s true. You can work out for hours on end but if you are putting the wrong things in your body it is pointless.
Meal planning does not have to be elaborate. Double batch your spaghetti, baked chicken or whatever you are cooking. A little bit goes a long way. And when you can’t prep your meals ahead of time, you can use these tips to help stay on track.
What are your tips for meal planning?