Healthy Recipes and 3 Tips to Make Meal Planning a Cinch
The weekend is over and Sunday night looms over your head. Don’t weekends fly by so quickly? I bet you didn't get as much done as you hoped. And trust me you’re not alone. Not to mention now you have the daunting task of a weekly grocery list!
If you feel like you have no idea what to cook, are stuck in a recipe rut or are just sick of the same old same old recipe then it’s time to take things up a notch. One of the main reasons people fall off their “healthy train” is because they find themselves faced with the challenge of what to cook. Of course you know clean lean protein, whole grains and lots of vegetables should be at the top of your list, but what do you do when you’ve cooked it all and need a change?
Well first of all here’s what you don’t do. You don’t pick up the phone and “door dash” your next meal or throw the kids in the car and hit the drive thru. You meal plan. You sit down, log onto your computer, scroll through all the awesome recipes your CrossFit coach has shown you and you make a plan. Not only will this save you the angst of wondering what to cook, but it also saves you calories, time and ensures you’ll be fueling up the right way, all week long.
And don’t worry, you don’t have to do it alone. Teaming up with a nutritional coach, gym or joining some amazing Facebook groups like Threefold Fit will put you on the fast track to health, wellness and meal plans you’ll actually enjoy. No fads, diet restrictions or impossible ingredients. Simple, clean and wholesome meals.
Meals that’ll make you feel good, energized and the right thing for your body and mind. It’s all connected. Feed your body well and the rest will thank you. Job well done.
Make a Menu and Have a List
The first step to successful meal planning is having a menu. Once your menu is created, write your grocery list and then stick to it. Far too often we head to the grocery store, forget our lists and then fill our carts with food we never intended on getting in the first place. Keep your eye on the prize (your health!) and your list close by while navigating the aisles.
Sticking to your list not only helps you save money, but it keeps you focused and organized. The grocery store is full of temptation. Sweet treats, processed foods and other unhealthy options that may look good in the moment, but when push comes to shove only do your body and nutritional plan harm.
Think about what you use on a weekly basis and put those items at the top of your list. Then break down the rest of your items, section by section focusing on fresh fruits, vegetables and clean, lean proteins.
That way you won’t worry about staring face to face with those BOGO Oreos or diet sodas. Fresh, clean, whole foods are always the way to go. Next if you don’t already have one, go out and get a menu board. Tack it up somewhere so your weekly overview is visible.
Stock Your Cabinets
Stocking your cabinets and fridge with foods that’ll give you the biggest nutritional bang for your buck and make you feel good inside and out is essential. Having kitchen staples such as canned beans, chickpeas, quinoa, brown rice, tuna or broth on hand is another tried and true tip for staying on track nutritionally. When you’re stocked, you’re also less likely to call for takeout or grab and go on your way home from work. Again, it’s about having a plan, being prepared and making things happen.
Although fresh is always better, there’s a ton you can do with a stocked cabinet. Canned beans (low sodium of course) add a great source of protein to soups, stews and even salads. Short on time? Ha, aren’t we all. Well if you fall into that category think about using what you have in your pantry and create a giant pot of soup, or pack a lunch with chickpeas on top for an extra energy boost of protein.
Stocking up doesn’t stop with food though, it also means you have the right containers to make meal planning that much easier. Mason jars, air-tight containers and reusable water bottles to name a few. When you’re ready to plan your meals for the week, have everything clean and ready to go. That way all you have to do is cook, portion and refrigerate. And just like that, you’re a meal-prepping pro.
Big Batch Sundays
Set Sunday aside for some “big batch” cooking. Most likely you were going to the grocery store anyway so make a day out of it. Head to the store early avoiding the crowds and don't forget your list. Once you're home, get cooking.
Big batch cooking means you make the majority of your meals, sides and prep vegetables ahead of time. Just think of all the time you’ll save! Whether it’s breakfast, lunches for work or veggies ready to be cooked or packed- planning ahead will give you a jumpstart on your week and hectic lifestyle.
Let’s start with breakfast. Easy meals such as overnight oats, or slow cooker apple cinnamon steel cut oats are perfect to prep ahead of time. Not only will they give you fiber, protein and fuel to start your day right, but overnight oats are also so versatile and easy to make in bulk. Grab a few mason jars and make room in the fridge. Another great alternative to oatmeal (if that’s not your thing) are quick and easy egg muffin cups. These cups are easy to tote with you to work or on the go. Egg muffins give you protein, and are a great way to start your day. Your morning wake up has never been easier.
And what about lunch? This is the meal many end up skipping either because of work or claiming they're too busy. But mealtime is more than just eating. It’s about thinking mindfully about what you put into your body, how it makes you feel and what it can help you achieve.
Quick and healthy lunch ideas keep your stomach full and your mind sharp all day long. So don’t skip them! Recipes such as avocado chicken salad, lettuce wrapped turkey burgers or a Mexican fiesta bowl will certainly satisfy your hunger.
And the list of what you can make keeps going on and on. From breakfast to lunch and dinner, if you plan ahead, organize your thoughts (and meals) and make meal prep part of your weekly routine you’ll never worry or wonder what to cook again.
Keep it Simple
Three little words, “keep it simple” can really make or break you. If you try to over-prep or take on elaborate, complicated recipes just because Pinterest makes them look amazing, you’ll never stick to a plan. Instead, keep things simple. Simple, easy, smart.
Nutrition doesn’t have to be and should never be complicated. It’s about understanding your body, knowing what nutritional needs help you reach your goals and then making them happen. Put your health and fitness first, have a plan and watch yourself evolve into the best version of yourself yet!