Saturday, November 15, 2014

Why Should You Do Weekly Meal Planning?

Why Meal Plan?

Ever since I started my Clean Eating journey in July of 2013, I have been unfailingly making weekly meal plans. Basically, it keeps me on track. And yes, I totally find myself looking at my note on the refrigerator every night to see what's on the dinner menu for the next couple days so that I can prepare appropriately! I would be lost without it. Meats would end up staying frozen or crock pot meals would stay uncooked. And alas, last minute takeout food, pizza or heaping piles of easy spaghetti WOULD be had! I can't imagine how I lived when I didn't enter a day not knowing what I was going to have for dinner. How did I even do that?! I cook most of my meals in 30 minutes or less now. How much time did I used to spend staring at the open freezer or refrigerator trying to contemplate what I could easily cook for dinner?! How many runs to the grocery store during the week would I make to get last minute missing ingredients? How many times per week did I really have tacos or mac n cheese from a box? A lot. Sound familiar? Get in CONTROL! With clean eating and weekly planning, you are in control. And let's face it, we all want to control something, right? Why not make it your diet?!

The first time I sat down to make a meal plan, it took HOURS! It was pretty grueling. I mapped out what my daily calorie consumption would be, sorted through pages and pages of recipes trying to find the appropriate amounts of calories in all my meals, planning them all out to my liking while trying to keep in mind my husband's and toddler's tastes, writing them down, mixing and matching, making the grocery lists.....sheesh! (And yes, I admit, the first time you sit down to create a strict meal plan, your experience might be just like this!) But the very next week I went to do this again, I found it was already easier. I already had a week of clean eating down, found that it didn't completely suck and I was feeling great! I already had some go-to favorite items! So I used them in next week's meal plan. And that cycle continues on and on. Always find new things to try but always have your no fail go-to items every week! Meal planning is A LOT easier now that I have expanded my clean eats recipe mind box and I will continue to make a meal plan, for at least dinner's, every week. Here's a few points you may consider when deciding if making a weekly meal plan is worth the extra effort.

  • Less room for last minute error - When you know what's on the menu every night and you are prepared for it, this lowers the chances of ordering takeout or going out to eat. I gotta tell you, one of the best feelings is when I walk up to my front door after a 9 hour work day and smell the crock pot meal inside that's been simmering since I left that morning - just waiting for me to eat! Now how are you going to say that a delivery pizza is better than that?!
  • Efficient Shopping - You have your list of meals right in front of you when making your grocery shopping list. Just write down what you need for all of your meals/snacks and stick to the list, no impulse buys! When I first started clean eating, my pantry wasn't nearly stocked as it is now. You may find yourself buying more ingredients at first but these will become staples in your kitchen after long. I am now damn proud of my pantry because of this! Come on over and borrow something please, I have it all!
  • Money SAVED - For the above two reasons, you'll save money. Period.
  • Variety - Again, you're in control! You wanna try this spaghetti squash everybody is talking about for the first time? Be my guest and please do, it's delicious and healthy for you! Oh, and what about this Keenwa stuff you've heard about? (That would be Quinoa and also super delicious!) Clean eating in general has widely expanded my tastes in food! Shoot, I even put mushrooms in my beef stroganoff once!!! So mix it up, have fun, try new things and stick to it.
  • Family Involvement - You know my two year old would rather have my clean chicken taco's instead of delivery pizza?! And he will downright throw a fit if I don't give them to him?! I absolutely love it, that's definitely my child. Anyways, involve the fam in your weekly meal planning! My hubby's favorite is meatloaf. He brought home a recipe he found for a veggie turkey meatloaf that we absolutely love now. Ask what they like, what are they in the mood for, what don't they like? Maybe even make a batch of no bake balls with the kiddo's! 
Ok, so how do you start?!

Find your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). Your BMR is your resting calorie burn. Let's get all nerdy Science up in here for a second. Seriously, do this when you first start out! This is the amount of calories you should be consuming everyday just to survive without sending your metabolism into starvation mode. Add a couple hundred calories to workout days. Aim to an amount around this number of calories everyday. You'll only have to "count calories" at first. You'll probably be able to eye up calorie contents after a few weeks and you'll have your go-to foods!
          655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)

            For example, I weigh 135 lbs, I am 5 foot 4 inches (64 inches) and I am 30 years old. Here is my BMR –
             655 + 587.25 + 300.8 – 30 = 1513.05

Schedule meals/snacks based on your calorie allowances. If you're in one of my challenge groups, you have access to breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes that have calorie content included. Or start flexing your Google search muscles - Google "Clean Eating Recipes" and you'll find tons and tons of yummy sounding recipes and a lot of them have nutrition info posted! 

Eat every 2-3 hours to keep metabolism boosted! Yes, you should all day long! A boosted metabolism is a happy metabolism (i.e. a calorie burning metabolism)

CHEAT MEALS! Schedule your cheat meals FIRST. Sometimes our schedule will make it hard to stay on track 24/7 - birthday parties, showers, planned dinner outings, etc. And seriously, you shouldn't have to stay on track 24/7 anyway. I always allow myself two SCHEDULED cheat meals during the week! Then you can go ahead and indulge responsibly at Aunt Thelma's birthday party on Wednesday or choose to have that much needed glass of wine when you're at the hibachi restaurant on Sunday with your in-laws. But you should EARN your cheat meals/treats and never let a cheat meal/treat turn into a cheat day. And don't ever use a cheat meal as an excuse to stuff 5 McChicken's or an entire stuffed crust pizza in your face. Stick to your plan!

Create your grocery list based on your meals/snacks. Easy peasy! You have your meals right there. Go down the list. Write down the ingredients. Boom you're done!

Create a handy weekly meal planner with grocery list attached so you have your list of meals right in front of you at the store! Or you can use this one! I am a stickler about organizing my grocery list by sections. Here, I have done that for you. It was my pleasure. 

You are ready to head off on the clean eating train. Happy Meal Planning!

No comments:

Post a Comment