“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” —Alan Lakein
During my weight loss journey I have come to learn that meal planning has been the deciding factor on whether I succeeded or failed.
How do I know when I can make time for my workouts if I don’t work out my calendar?
How do I assure I have good food in my house without a grocery list?
What happens if I come home starving and nothing is made, but McDonalds is across the street ready to eat?
Planning ahead is a vital weapon in this weight loss battle.
As a chef cooking and meal planning is my forte. I thought I would share some of my tips that have been helpful for me to assure that I always have healthy options available at all times.
1. First you need a list to know what to get. I am horrible at remembering paper lists so I have an app and I add things during the week as I think of it. Add staple items first: things you know you will need during the week. Milk, eggs, vegetables, fruit etc. Are there items you are craving or recipes you have been wanting to try out? Add it! It is so important to make your list and stick to it.
2. Adding to the list step I have to add to make sure you get things you like! I felt this was so important it had to be its own step. Pack delicious snacks and meals that you will be happy to eat. When you go to work and are faced with cupcakes, candy and donuts what is in your arsenal to knock out that temptation? I bet most cases a baggy of carrot sticks will not make you feel happy about saying no to those sweets. Make sure you have items available you truly like to eat. Don’t get things just because you feel it’s what you should be eating.
3. Now the fun part – shopping! Do your best to stick to your list! Of course some items may have a great sale and it may not be on your list but if it is in your plan then sure, go ahead! I am notorious for buying certain meats/fish because they are on sale even if they aren’t on my list. Now if chips ahoy is buy one get one free..you may want to skip it.
4. Once you have all your fresh and healthy items home it’s time to decide what to do with it all. I normally shop on Saturdays and prep everything I need on Sundays. Anything you can possibly chop, portion, cook, prep – do it! Your future self with thank you. Just like the quote above –“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.”
We have all had those days that when we get home from work or have been home all day tending to children, pets, spouses etc. the last thing on our mind is having to also cook dinner. Some days it seems so much easier to go get whatever take-out is closest. Imagine if all that was done for you. You have a hot meal in a crock pot, an already prepped casserole ready to be baked. It makes life so much easier! It stops a bad choice in its tracks before it even has time to gain leverage against us.
Here is an example of what my prep looks like
- Chopping all fruits that can be cut ahead of time without losing quality
- Pre-cook my proteins (grilling chicken, searing off beef)
- Cook pastas, rice, grains etc
- Boil eggs for snacks & salads
- Pre-portion any snacks to avoid over indulgence (chips, popcorn, pretzels etc)
- Prep casseroles to be baked later in the week
Cutting vegetables and pre-portioning vegetable dips
5. Now that you have all these meals prepped and snacks packed means that your week should be full of good choices! When heading off to work pack for your day. Packing a sandwich and an apple isn’t going to be enough fuel for a 9 hour day. Pack your lunch and snacks to get you through the day (or even to get you through your evening traffic jam). Having everything at your fingertips makes temptations during your day less tempting. Assure that any crock pot meals are ready before you walk out the door!
6. Come home after a long day of work and throw in your casserole or serve up a delicious meal waiting in your crock pot. Now you don’t come home ready to eat everything within your reach. There is now time for a workout or relaxing family time!
7. Lastly, eating out. Yep..plan for that too! Have you been craving pizza? Or maybe a burger? Plan for it! I do not feel anything is off limits in moderation. I am not saying starve yourself to assure you can eat pizza later but certainly count your points or calories for the day and work your day around enjoying what you want to eat, not regretting it tomorrow.
Planning does take some of time out of my weekend and it certainly isn’t easy at first. Once you make it part of your routine it does get easier and I cannot stress how important planning is for successful weight loss.
For the few hours is takes out of the weekend it makes up for the time gained during the week and takes the guess work out of your daily meals.