Meal planning is one of the smartest things you can do if you are trying to be healthy. It makes controlling portion sizes easy, helps you count calories, and reduces the temptation to have unhealthy snacks.
Unfortunately, a lot of people who try meal plans give up because they don’t know the secrets to making a plan that works.
If you’re considering trying for the first time, or you are keen to try again, these 5 tips to develop a healthy meal plan will give you a great head start.
If you make it to the end, there is a bonus tip which will really make your meal planning easier.
1. Baby Steps
One of the single greatest mistakes most meal planners make is trying to plan everything from the start. You need to ease your way into it.
Planning three meals a day, seven days a week may be your eventual goal, but it is a lot of effort! While long-term planners will have refined their process to a fine art, you are starting from scratch.
Some things you need to consider before starting your plan are:
- What kinds of foods do you like to eat?
- What is the right variety to stop you from getting bored?
- What are your dietary needs?
- What is your budget?
When people try to plan everything at once, they need immediate answers to all of these questions, which can be pretty confronting. Try planning a few meals, seeing what you like, and then planning a few more. Over time, you’ll learn what suits you.
2. Buy in Bulk
While becoming healthier is a big part of meal planning, it can also be great for your budget.
When you go grocery shopping you get bombarded with thousands of options…and it can be tempting to throw a few things in your trolley that you didn’t really need. Try doing one big weekly or fortnightly shop instead of small daily ones. By limiting your trips to the supermarket you can also limit these impulse buys.
Another benefit is wholesaling. If you find yourself in a routine where you buy the same ingredients every shopping trip, try going to a wholesaler like Costco. You’ll find plenty of ingredients that you can buy in bulk at a much cheaper price than regular supermarkets.
Just remember, don’t buy more than you can eat! While 8kgs of spinach sounds good in the moment, can you really eat that many leaves in a week? Try to bulk buy non-perishable ingredients, or things with a long shelf life.
3. Don’t Forget Snacks
Let’s face it, you are human - and humans love to snack! Many healthy meal planners don’t account for snacks because they don’t plan on eating them. But the reality is, even the most disciplined planners slip up every now and then.
So instead of pretending you won’t eat snacks, plan for them, include healthy snacks in your meal plans. That way, if you do find yourself in a moment of weakness, you don’t have to feel completely terrible about it.
4. Plan for Leftovers
If you want to make a meal plan, but you also don’t want to cook every night, leftovers are the answer. For example, every second or third night, deliberately cook more than you need with the intention of chucking it in the fridge or freezer. Then tomorrow you’ll have an easy meal that is still home cooked.
This is especially great if you have a family. It’s easy to over cook for a family meal. All it takes is for one person to not have an appetite and suddenly you’ve got too much food on your hands. By planning for leftovers, this doesn’t have to be an issue.
5. Store in Portions
Even if you eat healthily, your portions need to be controlled if you want to be healthy. Overeating healthy foods can still lead to weight gain.
Try not to store your left overs in one large container. If you reheat the entire thing, you will feel obliged to eat it all. Instead, with portion sizes you only reheat the amount you need. Plus, if you are reheating all of your food and then putting whatever you can’t finish back in the fridge, it’s going to taste worse each time. By only reheating your food once, it keeps it fresher and tastier.
Bonus Tip - Try Ready-Made Meals
A lot of people use the terms ‘meal planning’ and ‘meal prepping’ interchangeably, but they aren’t the same thing.
Meal prepping involves - as the name suggests - preparing meals in bulk to save time and energy cooking them separately throughout the week.
Meal planning, on the other hand, simply means planning what you will eat and when, usually to be healthier or limit overeating. It doesn’t mean you have to make the meals you plan.
Many ready made meal businesses offer the convenience of bulk ordering, and because they are pre-made they naturally control portion size. Most businesses also provide healthy options and cater for breakfast and dinners, and even snacks!
Activate Foods is one option that guarantees healthy meals and provides delicious meals for any time of the day.
Breakfast - Sweet Potato, Bacon & Tomato Breakfast Frittata
A healthy breakfast doesn’t have to be boring! Consider a breakfast frittata that provides some nice flavour and a little bit of crunch to your morning routine.
Dinner - Chunky Beef & Mushroom Cottage Pie
The biggest challenge for meal planners is often dinner, especially when choosing one meal that the whole family will eat. With that said, who doesn’t love a cottage pie! Hearty and easy to plate, sometimes it pays to keep it simple.
Snack - Berry Ripe Bliss Balls
Even healthy snacks can be ordered from ready made meal services. Bliss balls have taken the healthy eating world by storm, and it’s no surprise why. Tasty, easy and the definition of bite sized!
Start Meal Planning Today
With these helpful tips, your new healthy meal plan should go off without a hitch! But if you are finding yourself struggling to carve out time for cooking, why not try Activate Foods.
Their home-made ready meals are proudly gluten free, and they cater to any preference. They have meals to suit:
- A range dietary requirements
- Fresh or frozen, raw or pre-cooked
- Breakfasts, single serve meals, family meals and snacks