Prepping a week’s worth of meals all at once is intimidating. Endless menu options and budget restrictions inevitably conflict, leaving you wondering if you’ll ever be able to pull together a weekly food rotation that isn’t either boring and repetitive or costly and time-consuming. But don’t despair! Difficult as it may seem at the outset, anyone can build an effective meal plan if they devote enough time and thought to the process. By scheduling out recipes and prep, those looking to eat nutritiously can easily avoid falling back on instant meals or ordering takeout. Below, I’ve listed a few guiding tidbits for a starting planner to follow. Happy cooking!
Decide on Your Goals
What do you want to get out of your meal plan? Are you trying to build muscle, lose weight, or simply eat more healthfully? Each of these intents requires a different type of dietary plan – after all, a bodybuilder wouldn’t eat the same quantity and type of food as a ballerina! After you settle on a goal, conduct some research to find your nutritional guidelines. Remember to check in with your primary physician if you think that changing the composition of your diet could have some adverse health effects.
Assess Your Capabilities
Odds are, a person who works from six in the morning to six at night isn’t going to have the energy to whip up a three-course meal when they come home. Know your limits! If you have the time and energy to cook a comprehensive meal each night, go for it – but if you don’t, you should plan to accommodate a low-energy evening. Meal prepping ahead of time or making extra food when you do cook may help you avoid ordering pizza on particularly tiring days.
Be Strategic in the Kitchen
Strategy is everything to a savvy shopper. Cut down on food costs by planning out a week’s meals in advance and choosing recipes with overlapping ingredients. To further avoid overwhelming or confusing yourself, pin a calendar outlining what you plan to cook or eat on each day onto your refrigerator. When shopping, make a firm grocery list and stick to it; impulse purchases tend to add up quickly!
Prep as Preferred
Meal prep should be every busy professional’s go-to strategy for eating healthy. Cut down on the time and effort required during the work week by pre-chopping and portioning your ingredients into marked plastic bags. If you do so, the only action you’ll need to take during the week will be tossing the food you prepared into a pot!
Meal planning takes time and forethought – but the health and time-saving benefits it provides is well-worth the planning it requires!