This week’s grocery shopping done at Whole Foods Albany, always shopping the sales!
How To Meal Plan (Like a Champ)
The most common question I get from my clients is, “Can you make a meal plan for me?”. The short answer is always, “Yes.” However, it is not usually that easy. You are uniquely you, and you lead a unique life with unique responsibilities, budgets, food preferences, time constraints, and the list goes on.
This means that no one meal plan will fit all. Sure, you can print one off online, or try to copy what your friend is doing, but most likely it will fall through.
Because you have to take into consideration what works for you, what time you are willing to allot to cooking, what food you already have on hand, your cooking ability, and even food preferences of everyone living under your roof. It’s not always the most straightforward task.
Why Should You Meal Plan?
Because everyone’s doing it!
Nope, just kidding, that was a joke. It’s hard to be sarcastic via a blog. Can you guys tell I’m super sarcastic 90% of the time? No? Ugh, bummer!
Anyway, you should meal plan because it will first and foremost save you from the age ol’ question “What’s for dinner?” By planning ahead, you can forgo that question and just ask “what time is dinner?” Which, I think is a much less stress-inducing question to be asked. But what do I know, I’m just a dietitian.
They say failing to plan means you can plan to fail. I’d agree with that (unless you are a master at whipping up healthy food last minute). When we forget to pack our lunch, it’s take-out or vending machine fare. If we are too tired and at a loss for dinner, it’s pizza or some other take-out variety. This is okay once in a while, but if it is becoming a daily ordeal, you need to take a step back and put some time into meal planning. Unless you are okay with being unhealthy…
Meal planning should be painless and fun. If you are not having fun, have someone else in the house help you, turn to Pinterest for ideas, or find someone who is good at meal planning to help you. You will feel better when food is prepped from the inside out.
Meal Planning 101
Alright, here goes nothing. I’ll give you the how-to of meal planning, but you must execute! If you need some extra help, reach out! I can either give you a quick response or get you up and running with meal planning.
- Survey the Scene.
Check out your pantry, cabinets, freezer, and refrigerator. See what you have, what is still good and what needs replenishing. The worst thing to do is think you have something at home, only to find out you don’t have it when returning home from the store. Or finding 500 cloves of garlic….
- Check out the Sales.
There are so many ways to check for what is on sale these days. Most of the time if a food is in season, you can bet it will be on sale at some point during that particular season.Favorite Ways to Shop the Sales:
– Apps: I love using the Target App and Whole Foods App to see what is on sale and save some money!
– Local Ads: Check your mailbox! I’m serious, I find at least 1-2 coupons a week that I can use and sometimes it’s off the entire bill (i.e. $10 off $50)
– In Store: Once you get to the store, check the sales. Usually, the items upfront are on sale or ask an associate.
– Online: If you have some brands that you love, check out their websites. More likely than not, they have some type of promotion for signing up for their email or just for being a loyal customer. (ex: Siggi’s)
- Make a Menu & Grocery List.
Now that you know what you have at home and what might be on sale, you are ready to make a list. Start with dinners, pick 2-3 for the week (depending on how much food you need to make). Then go to lunch (pick 1-2 items), and finally breakfast & snacks (1-2 apiece, minimum).Here is an example of how I planned one week:
Breakfast Lunch Dinner Snacks Pumpkin Overnight Oats Fall Salad w/Chicken Taco Stuffed Sweet Potatoes Pumpkin Protein Balls Breakfast Sausages Turkey Sandwich w/veggies Butternut Squash Risotto Cut up veggies & Guac/Hummus
From this menu, you can now make a grocery list:
Produce Meat Other Butternut Squash Ground beef x 2 Canned Pumpkin Salad Mix Chicken Rice Peppers Deli Meat Hummus Onions Chicken Sausage Toilet Paper Baby Carrots
- Attack the Grocery Store, Farmers Market, etc.
Now that you have your list, you know what you need and can make a decision as to where you need to go to find the above foods and grocery items.
- Improvise at the store, as needed.
When you get to the store, they may be out of something. On the other hand, they may have a food item you love on sale that you just NEED. It is okay to improvise, but be realistic. Don’t just buy 10 lbs of lobster because you had a bad day, only to let it go to waste in the fridge. Shop smart.
You have your meals planned, groceries shopped for and now it is time to prep the food. There are two ways I would suggest prepping your meals.
The first option, prep the meals all at once and alternate your meals throughout the week.
The second option, pick two days during the week to prep your food and eat the same food for 2-3 days at a time, then replenish.
And when you’re done all this, you’ve earned the right to fall asleep in your food bowl 🙂
Need help meal planning?I
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.Let me hear from you!
What is your favorite Meal Plan tip that helps you be successful?
Answer in the comments below.
Have a great week my sassy little meal planners!