Hi Wellness Buddy,
Does this sound familiar?
You come home on a Thursday after a stressful day at work, starving because you only ate a salad for lunch. You look for something to eat…and there is nothing healthy! So, you snack on gluten-free crackers (hey, they are gluten free!) and end up ordering pizza. It’s been a long week and you deserve something indulgent, right?
We live in a busy world but I am going to share with you how you can lose weight, increase your energy and save you money with meal planning! My VIP clients consistently comment on how meal planning is vital to their success. And it’s easier than you think. All it takes is a bit of forethought, some time management and my cute little meal planning worksheet.
As you know, when you are hungry and tired after a long day, cooking a healthy meal is probably not at the top of your priority list. That’s why meal planning is so critical. You will already have a healthy, delicious answer to that never-ending question, “What should I make for dinner?” Meal planning is a bit like getting into an exercise routine; you might feel resistance at first but once you get into the swing of it, it’s not so bad, and soon you are looking and feeling great.
Here are my six simple tips for meal planning success!
- Dust Off Your Cookbooks. Start with just 1-2 recipes to make for the week. You can check out some of my favorite cookbooks. Or Google healthy recipes (try searching for gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan recipes). Hit up Youtube and learn how to perfectly grill salmon (or cook just about anything else). And finally, Vegetariantimes.com never disappoints if you are looking for ideas.
- Make a Grocery List. Check your cabinets, fridge and freezer and take stock of what you already have and what you need. Create a handy list and make sure to factor in healthy snacks like fruit, veggies and raw nuts. To save extra money on organic fruits and veggies, check out my Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 List. As you cook more at home, your cabinets will get stocked with staple spices and ingredients, resulting in less money spent at the checkout. Plus, since you are using recipes to create your grocery list you are only buying food you plan on eating. (Resist putting extras in your cart such as Oreos, chips, etc. If it’s not in the house, then you’re less likely to eat it).
- Cook Once and Eat Twice. This is HUGE in terms of saving time during the week. Smoothies last up to 3 days in the refrigerator and can be frozen too. I pair leftovers from dinner with a simple salad as my lunch most days of the week. And my weekday dinners are simple yet satisfying, ranging from a Veggie “Cheese” Bake to Spicy Chili to a Veggie Stir Fry with Beans/Chicken. Most weeks, I cook 4 nights (1-2 on the weekend and 2 weeknights), hit Whole Foods Salad bar after I teach yoga on Monday and Wednesdays, and use leftovers for dinner to round out the week. My weekday meals are simple and take less than 30 minutes to prepare. Moral of the story: don’t over extend yourself. Choose easy, healthy options when you know you will be busy and save the fancy, complicated and time-consuming recipes for a weekend.
- Get Creative with Leftovers: Leftover beans and rice can easily be sautéed with peppers and onions to make a yummy wrap. Roasted veggies from Monday can be thrown in with gluten-free pasta or puréed with vegetable broth to make a delicious soup that you can serve with a salad.
- Aim to grocery shop TWICE per week. Once on the weekend for the staples for your recipes and smoothies, and then once more to load up on fresh veggies and fruits mid-week. Frozen fruit and vegetables also work in a pinch. Fresh is best but life is busy. Or get the vegetables and fruit delivered to you by checking out Local Harvest to find a local veggie co-op or CSA (community supported agriculture) delivery near you.
- Prep for Success. Cut up veggies for the week on grocery days. Make enough of your staples ingredients like brown rice or beans to use for the whole week. I always make 1-2 recipes on Sundays for the week or freeze them for a fast week-night meal. Once you get into the habit of cooking on the weekends, you are going to love the time it saves you throughout the week! Not to mention how great your jeans are starting to fit.
Here is a peek of a week menu at Casa Dominas:
My gift to you: EW Meal Planning Worksheet
Use these tips above to fill out the EW Meal Planning Worksheet. Thirty minutes of planning each week will save you time, energy and money, and you are prepping for success by avoiding last-minute food decisions. The time you save can be spent doing activities you enjoy, you’ll have more energy because you’re eating more veggies and nutrient dense food instead of take out or processed foods, and there will be more money in your wallet since you’re cooking at home and making use of left-overs!
I want to hear from you.
What is your biggest challenge when eating healthy throughout the week? Do you have a quick to-go meal? Share it with the group in the comment section below!