Have you ever been a victim of barely recognizable food in your refrigerator, like that Pinterest recipe you absolutely had to make? If you’re nodding your head yes, up until now you may have found sticking to a meal plan harder than making one. The best meal plan is the one you actually stick to and a meal plan won’t do you any good if it isn’t used and the food spoils in your refrigerator before you can get to it.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge believer in meal plans. They give you structure, take the guesswork out of what to eat, and help you stay consistent - a key ingredient to any successful health and fitness journey. But did you know that one of my secrets to successfully sticking with a meal plan is actually in the prep?
Two of the main questions that I get asked when it comes to meal plans are what to eat and where to begin.
What to eat.
Most of my meals are structured using the same general guidelines - a protein, starch, and vegetable, with fruits and fats mixed in throughout the day. This combination of food makes it easier to multitask in the kitchen as all of theses foods can be cooked at the same time - chicken in the slow cooker, oven, or on the grill, grains (brown rice or quinoa) on the stove top or (sweet potatoes) in the oven, and vegetables roasting in the oven or sauteing on the stove. These foods are also the perfect bases for any meal and can easily be combined throughout the week to make different dishes.
My Macros Made Easy meal plan makes it easy to know what to eat with its recipe guide and list of foods to eat.
Where to begin.
There are three key ingredients to successfully stick to a meal plan:
1. Plan for your schedule
An easy-to-follow meal plan is great, but you still need to make it work for you. The best way I’ve found to do this is to plan for your schedule. I’ve learned the hard way that an elaborate oven-roasted meal doesn’t usually work well on nights where I have client training sessions until 7pm or later. I always look at my schedule when I sit down to plan our meals for the week ahead to avoid any weeknight dinner fails.
2. Make meal prepping a priority
We’ve all heard the saying, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” The same is true when it comes to prepping your meals for the week ahead. Every week, like clockwork, my husband and I carve out a few hours on Sunday morning to prep, cook, and portion our lunches and dinners for the week. Not only does this take any and all guesswork out of what we’re eating for the week, but it’s super convenient to be able to grab a Tupperware container out of the fridge and heat your food up as you need it. Not only is meal prepping a major time saver for us, but it’s also a huge money saver as we’re not going out to dinner AND we’re not wasting food because our meals are already cooked. (It took me A LOT of trial and error to get here)
3. Keep it simple
Planning your meals should not be complicated or time consuming. Your meals can be as simple as a protein, grain, and vegetable or, for more variety, your favorite slow cooker or Instant Pot recipe. I choose a few simple recipes, usually two lunch options, and two to three dinner recipes, to make for the week and alternate the days on which I eat them. Planning my meals this way adds enough variety so that I don’t get bored and cave into ordering a pizza, but the amount of food to be prepped is still manageable.
Do you meal prep weekly? What are your tips for those just starting out?