Our society today lives in the moment and struggles with the concept of planning ahead. This is no fault to anyone; it is just how our world has changed over time.
Over the years, I have been asked countless times on how to make a meal plan. When I begin talking about planning ahead, making a grocery list and going to the grocery store, most people agree that planning is the area they struggle with the most. Today, I am going to try to make the process as easy as possible and share what our menu for a week might look like.
Step to Menu Planning
- Assess your calendar – This will help you figure out what days you can to cook versus the days you need to have a meal prepped before you get home that night. It will also plan for the days you will be out with friends/family especially with the holidays coming up. There is no need to plan a meal when you won’t be home to enjoy it.
- Look over your training schedule – Think about the foods you are consuming before your workout the following day. If you have a meal that could causes GI stress (i.e. beans, corn, high fiber), you might want to organize that meal on a night you won’t be getting up the following morning for a an early workout. This is also a good time to determine what days you will work out in the evening and dictate how time intensive that meal might be to get together after a workout.
For example: If you train until 7-8pm, you might not feel like coming home that night to cook a meal that takes an hour to prepare. This would be a good night to have something prepared ahead of time or have a quick meal like spaghetti, sandwiches, tuna salad on the menu for that night
3. What sounds good – Selecting meals that sound good will help you look forward to the food that week rather than dread an upcoming meal much less cooking it.
4. No waste – Always remember to check your leftover perishable items and include those foods to prevent waste.
5. Write it out – I write out M, T, W, H, F, S, S to represent the days of the week. After steps 1-4, begin working through meals. I will often ask Michael what he would like to eat that week as well to help create ideas and because I want both of us to enjoy the meals. My menu might look something like this:
Tricks of the Trade:
*The items in parentheses represents where the recipe is found (cookbook/Pinterest)
*I will make notes on meals I need to prep ahead of time to remind myself to cook Thursday’s meal on Wednesday for example.
*I always notate when a recipe is a slow cooker to ensure I cook that ahead of time.
* We usually use dinner leftovers as lunches for the next day to cut down on cooking and prepping. You need to take that into account when you are determining the quantity you need to buy and prepare.
*If you are batch cooking, assess all the ways you can cook that day. For example: the grill, stove, oven, crockpot/insta-pot. Use the various methods to create variety in your food rather than only eating grilled or baked food all week
6. Grocery time – Now that you have your menu for the week, it’s time to make the grocery list. We separate our produce from the rest of the items on the list. I will typically write out our menu on one side of the paper and the other side will be the grocery list. Our grocery list might look something like this for the menu created in #5.
*Our grocery list is ever running. Meaning if we run out of something during the week, it gets put on the list when we run out. Example: If I use up the last of the milk, then I will put it down on the list for the following week
7. Save it – You spend time each week creating a menu. Save them so that you can go back and use the same menu in the future when possible.
Now that you have your plan and grocery list the time has come…to go shopping!
For those of you who don’t cook…this still applies to you in a sense. Planning what you are going to pick up from a local business that sell prepared meals like Zedrick’s can also be helpful. Deciding what you are going to purchase and picking it up for the next few days helps prevent you falling into the trap of convenient food that might not be as nutritionally beneficial as meals cooked at home or from a local business.
I hope this has helped you think through how to meal plan for the week. It does take time and effort, for sure! In the end, it is well worth the time and your body will thank you!
As always, feel free to leave a comment or question below. Thanks for checking out my blog!