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You hear it all the time…

“The key to success is planning!”

It seems that for certain things, this is easy. Plan your holidays. Plan your birthday party and menu. Plan your work schedule. But plan your meals? Every day?

The answer is “yes”; plan your meals day-by-day, every week. Why not? Why only plan the special occasions? You eat every day! Take the time to plan a little and make your every day special, too.

Studies have shown that people who don’t plan continue to struggle. By leaving your meal preparation to a last minute choice and without proper planning, eating will always feel like “work”. At Low Fat Low Carb, we understand that healthy habits take time. And we’re here to support you the best way we can.

Before you start planning, you need to know what kind of “planner” you are! We find that most people will fall into three planning categories: Structured, Casual and Spontaneous.

Structured planners LOVE to plan ahead. They find comfort in structure and enjoy organized regimes. They tend to shop once a week and would be attracted to apps or websites (like ours!) that have a grocery shopping list or a reusable list of all the foods they want to have on hand. They have busy schedules, are good time managers and plan their meals to match their schedule. They cook in batches and like freezer-friendly recipes such as soup, stew, casseroles and more. Structured planners would be apt to pre-chop raw veggies for the week and prepare a part of a meal or an entire meal that could be eaten the next day to save time. They also tend to find eating easy.

The casual planner uses a mix of structure and spontaneous meal planning. Often they enjoy planning three or four general supper themes for the week, such as “Meatless Mondays, Seafood Sundays or Family Favourite Fridays.” The other unplanned supper meals would be for quick grabs such as fast breakfast-for-supper options, leftovers, eating out or something spontaneous.

The spontaneous planner lives by the quote, “Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavor.” They would find planning supper for the week suffocating as they enjoy spontaneity. Opposite to the structured planner (who plans-then-shops), the spontaneous planner shops-then-plans. They appreciate what is seasonal and fresh and will start meal planning with this in mind. Grocery shopping and farmers market trips are usually not a chore, but an adventure. They are foodies that allow their senses to inspire the menu. They enjoy the flexibility of knowing they are having seafood or chicken for supper today or tomorrow, but how it will be cooked and what it will be served with will be decided at the time of cooking and what is in the fridge ready to be used.

All of these three approaches are GREAT! There is not one that is better than the other. What is important is that you realize what type of planner you are so that you may use your skills and style for your weekly preparations. Knowing this will allow you to have a realistic approach.

Feel like you might be a structured planner, or aspire to be? Try our meal planning calendar to visualize and prepare for your week. All with a provided grocery list.

Like flexibility?

Find 3-4 recipes that you can have on hand at all times. We have over 400 recipes on our site, you’re sure to find a few that will match your tastes. Teach your kids to cook a recipe and then plan for them to do this every Tuesday, for example. Then wing-it for a couple of days with what needs to be used up in the fridge.

You think you may be a spontaneous planner? Is that even possible? Yes! You still need to work out WHEN to do your shopping. WHEN to get ready for your meals. If you are spontaneous now and it’s stressing you out, you may want to try one of the other methods. Start slowly and build your meal plan one meal at a time. Your meal planning doesn’t have to be fancy. Give yourself a break – having pancakes, scrambled eggs, and frozen veggies for dinner may not be gourmet but it meets the criteria for a balanced meal. Let the vegetable drive dinner. Instead of looking in your freezer or pantry, start by what fresh foods need to be used up first and form your meal around those items. Start thinking about what you can eat while you are driving to work, at lunch or while waiting to pick up your kids from school. ANY amount of planning is helpful.

Here are five more easy ways to start planning and preparing your meals in advance.

 

5 Ways to Boost Meal Planning

“The key to success is planning!” Your meal planning doesn’t have to be fancy. Give yourself a break – having pancakes, scrambled eggs, and frozen veggies for dinner may not be gourmet but it meets the criteria for a balanced meal. Start thinking about what you can eat while you are driving to work, at lunch or while waiting to pick up your kids from school. ANY amount of planning is helpful.

Here are five more easy ways to start planning and preparing your meals in advance.

1 – Cook in large batches. For example, grill eight chicken breasts at a time. Having things like a chicken ready to go is great for slicing over salads or even having half of a chicken breast as a snack. The same thing goes for your favorite soups or stir-fries. Keep a few portions in the fridge and individually freeze the rest.

Chicken Squash Salad

2 – Create a standard grocery list. Create a standard list of the foods that you know you use on a weekly basis. Have this list available to you and anyone else in the family that can be responsible for grocery shopping. That way, you know you will always have the basic items you need at all times to make your staple meals.

3 – Copy/Paste multiple meals. Plan to eat the same lunches, dinners and snacks for a few days during the week. By planning to eat the same things on alternate days you cut down on the need to plan, grocery shop and prepare ahead of time. This way you can also use the leftovers for lunches or other meals. Planning 21 different meals every week will most likely be overwhelming for you! Keep it simple.

4 – Display your schedule! Place your meal plan in a visible place where the whole family can see it. Teach the kids and/or your partner how to create some of the meals and snacks in case you’re running late. Having your plan on display will hold the entire family accountable and create less stress around “what’s for dinner?”

5 – Don’t start from scratch. This means that even though you know “What’s for dinner?” you’re also halfway done with your prep work! Taking the time to meal “prep” is as much a part of successful meal planning as the plan itself. Don’t start from scratch at every meal. Ask yourself what you can do on Sunday, or in the mornings or quickly after work that will make your week of cooking go a little faster. Maybe it’s chopping an onion or setting out your unrefrigerated ingredients on the counter in the morning. Try to plan for the week including what you can do ahead of time.

We can’t emphasize enough how planning your weekly meals and snacks can reduce stress. Of course, it can be fluid and may change from week to week. If you haven’t tried planning your food a week in advance, take a few minutes tonight to look at what’s in your fridge and pantry. Start with the question “what will we/I eat tomorrow for dinner?” and go from there. Change takes time. New habits take 66 days. You’ve got this!

For our online meal planner – click HERE.


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