Simplify Your Meal Planning
Hate meal planning but know you should?
Have you heard the saying by Benjamin Franklin–“failing to plan is like planning to fail?” Well, when it comes to healthy eating, planning is super important and something we work on with our clients a lot. But, just like anything else, there is no one size fits all when it comes to meal planning and we’re going to help you with that today in the video and post below.
So are you ready to talk planning? Just like diets, exercise or even decluttering, if it’s too overwhelming or too regimented, it can be hard to stick with it.
Let us take exercise for example. If you tell yourself you are going to start exercising every day and then you miss a day, you feel guilty and may throw in the towel or just get burnt out after a few weeks. When it comes to dieting, we see women decide to cut out ALL forms of sugar, for instance, and then they have one cookie and feel like they’ve blown it.
The same goes with planning! if you tell yourself you’re going to be a super planner and take a few hours every Sunday to prep your food (just like they show in the beautiful instagram posts) or plan all your meals in advance…depending on your personality and lifestyle, that could be amazing! On the other hand, it could get overwhelming real fast– and drive you back to old habits of not planning at all.
So, don’t feel bad if you can relate! Planning is different for everyone. There is no one size fits all.
Let’s start by breaking this down a bit. First off, if you think about it, there are many aspects to planning:
- Coming up with your meal ideas for the week.
- Doing the actual prep ahead of time (batch cooking for the week)
- Making sure your kitchen is stocked with the right food
- Having recipes/Ideas
- A good shopping list
- Kitchen tools to do what you need to do
- Good containers to store leftovers
Since we are about simplifying things, we put it into a formula:
1. What you absolutely have to do + 2. What you can reasonably see yourself doing long term
First part of equation:
- At the least, what we have found is critical to long term success is to have a well stocked kitchen with the basics.
- Recipes that support your goals that are NOT difficult to make and do not take up a lot of time.
- For example, in our Simply Nourished program, we have our participants come up with 3 go-to meals they can make in a pinch.
- Another great option is to find a local take out that is healthy. Or even back up frozen meals from a great company like Daily Harvest or Nutrition for Longevity.
Step back and look at your strengths, your personality and your overall lifestyle.
- If your strengths include planning and organization, then super organized Sunday prepping for the whole week is right up your alley and it will work for you. For example, we know a lot of teachers who are used to making lesson plans and have that plan-ahead mentality.
- We have clients that are really creative and love to cook so we have them use that as an advantage – they may enjoy making some recipes that require more time, effort, and creativity.
- On the other hand, if you tend to be more rebellious, you might get mad or resentful being home on Sundays prepping, and that’s not good! How long will that last? If you relate to that more, then you need to have some flexibility built into your plan.
- Or, your lifestyle may not be conducive to spending a chunk of time each week for longer meal prep – so you need to take that into account.
Take stock of what your personality, strengths and lifestyle are – be honest. Then decide what kind of planning makes the most sense.
Start with the first part of the equation, which should be the same for everyone. Stock that kitchen with plenty of healthy foods that can go in many different recipes! And gather a handful of quick easy recipes.
Then address part 2 of the equation, which is where the differences come in. If you are a planner and organized, this will be a bit easier for you. If you are a planning rebel or planning challenged, hold on, we will get to you soon.
For you planners out there, Pick one (or 2) days of the week to prep – do some batch cooking of proteins, starches and veggies.
However, If you’re not into the planning scene, start with a few of these ideas…
- AME! Always make extra!! Cook once, eat 2-3 – Enjoy leftovers or freeze
- Simplify: Don’t make it more complicated than it has to be. Meals can be super simple and still tasty. Have 3 fall back meals that save you from ordering pizza or take out but are almost just as easy – write these down, memorize them or keep them handy
- Think outside the box – if you have a box or bag of Leafy greens, don’t let them go bad – you can throw them into anything! It doesn’t have to be a salad – cook them (mixed greens, arugula, etc), add to soups, stews, or sauces.
- Speaking of greens, salad doesn’t have to be greens. It can include broccoli, cauliflower, or zucchini. Chop up and make these veggies into a salad – with good dressing, everything is better!
- Pre-vet restaurants/take out places where you can get healthy options
- Start a new habit of thinking just one day ahead, that way you can take something out of the freezer or pick up a possible missing ingredient on the way home and also having an idea of how long you will need to make the meal
We always say, go for BETTER, not perfect – just taking a few steps toward some sort of planning will make a huge difference.
THE NOURISHING GURUS
Jane and Stephanie, creators of The Simply Nourished Solution™, are nutritionists who help women over 50 go from overweight, frustrated, and inflamed to lighter and healthier so they can be more active, feel good in their bodies, and live the second half of life with energy and confidence. Their 3-pronged approach, which can fit into any lifestyle, encompasses not only wholesome energizing foods but powerful habit and mindset shifts.
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