The Importance of Meal Planning

Good morning and happy Sunday everyone! I hope you all had a beautiful first week of December!  🙂 Today I’m going to write about one of THE most important tools for success, in my opinion. I have already written a post about the importance of calorie tracking, and this goes hand in hand. Today I’m going to talk to you about the importance of meal planning.

We’re all busy people. We all have lives outside our homes, and for most of us, we spend the majority of our days outside of our homes. We all need to eat several times a day, and for optimal weight loss or maintenance and optimal health, we need to eat a small, healthy meal every 2-3 hours. But since we’re not home to make these meals every 2-3 hours, we need to THINK AHEAD and PLAN MEALS in advance.

No matter what, there will be a day where you’re stuck in traffic, or stuck somewhere for an extended period of time that was unintended, and you’re hungry. You need something quick on hand to eat, or else you’ll end up at a drive-thru, or at a convenience store. So my first piece of advice is to THINK AHEAD and pack healthy, pre-portioned on the go snacks: in your car, in your purse, in your backpack, in your desk at work. This could be a little bag of raw, unsalted nuts, a protein bar, some freeze-dried fruit, some granola. These things won’t go bad, so they can stay in your car or purse for an extended period of time until the time you need them. It WILL come, so prepare yourself!

Ever heard of the expression “fail to plan, plan to fail“? Well, I totally agree! I’ve done the no-prep thing, where it was hurry-hurry, rush-rush, scramble-scramble, grab things, shove them in a bag, and rush out the door, only to get to work and realize I picked up the wrong Tupperware (uuggggghhhhh, meat sauce, not my vegan chili!!!!), forgot to bring fruit, didn’t bring enough food, have to go to the grocery store and spend money on pre-packaged overpriced meals. Soooo frustrating! Hey, it happens to the best of us. We’re all busy and have so many other things to do. But if your health is important to you and you want to make serious, positive changes in your life, meal planning is SUPER important! And it is also SUPER easy! You do not need to spend 5 hours a day cooking and Tupperware-ing and counting calories. No WAY!

Prepping your meals ahead of time saves you so much TIME every single day. It saves you MONEY when you pack your own lunch, rather than buying something every day. It saves you the HEADACHE of wondering what to make to eat today. It saves you CALORIES. It saves your LIFE! Serrrrrrriously! There’s so many reasons why it is beneficial to plan your meals ahead of time. Let me tell you how I do it, and how I’ve found it works best for me.

I pick up groceries a few times a week. Whenever I’m running low on fruits and veggies, I’ll stop buy the store and stock up. I also sprout my own beans, lentils and quinoa in glass mason jars a few times a week. (This takes virtually no time, just soak the beans overnight, drain and rinse in the morning, and rinse every night and morning until they have sprouted.)

Throughout the week I’ll browse through my cookbooks or look up recipes online, and choose a few that I’d like to try. I make a list of what ingredients I’ll need from the recipes I’ve chosen, and see if I have any of them in the house. On Sundays or sometimes Monday mornings (my weekend is Sunday-Monday), I’ll go to the store and pick up whatever I’ll need. I set aside a few hours on Monday (usually between 1-4) to prepare all my meals for the coming week. I have all my recipes in front of me, get out all my measuring tools, all my ingredients, and get cooking! (Or lately, get blending!)

Every week I make: a batch of raw energy bars, a pasta sauce, two main dishes, some burgers and a dressing. Voila! Meals prepped and planned. AND I had time for a lunch break!

Here are some things you could prep all in the same day: a big tray of roasted veggies (carrot, sweet potato, squash, parsnips, celery, potatoes, broccoli), quinoa, wild or brown rice, steamed veggies, healthy pizza, chili, stews, soups… Many things will keep in the fridge for at least a week, especially when packed in the proper plastic or glass containers.

When all your food is cooked, all you need to do is pack the meals in individual portion sizes, make yourself a big green salad every day (takes 5 minutes), pack some healthy snacks, pack some fruit and VOILA! Your lunch is ready for the day! I do this at night when I get back from work. In the morning I’ll make my Vega protein shake to drink right away and make my Shakeology to bring to work with me, but besides that, my lunch is perfectly ready and it is no hassle or rush at all.

SO, let’s recap…

– Planning meals and tracking calories go wonderfully hand in hand.
– Preparing your meals on one day for the week ahead is so important!
– Preparing meals ahead of time saves: time, money, headaches, calories.
– Pick a few recipes and go grocery shopping with a LIST.
– Plan a few hours and set them aside for food prep.
– Enter in your calories daily into your tracking app – I do this the night before too, as I’m packing my lunch.
– Make yourself a fresh, big green salad for every day.
– Pack a lot of fruit and healthy snacks for your lunches.
– Keep healthy snacks on hand for when you aren’t able to eat a meal.
– Pack your individual portions in Tupperware, all you’ll need to do is grab and go.
– Have fun with your recipes! Try some out from books you have, borrow some from a friend, browse the bookstores, check online! There are tons of great free websites, just google whatever you’re in the mood for!
PLAN AND YOU WILL SUCCEED!

Peace, love and lots of pretty Tupperware,
xx Laura

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