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Meal planning can help you choose healthier foods, maintain better portion control, save money and time, and prevent food waste. These benefits, and many more, are attainable for you!
Trying new things can be daunting, and sometimes we don’t even know where to begin. If you want to learn how to meal plan, start by following these 12 expert tips:
Planning your meals around what you already have in the kitchen helps you save money and reduce food waste. (Rhyan, Registered Dietitian)
When planning a meal, try to make it 1/4 protein, 1/4 starchy vegetables, whole grains, or fruit, and 1/2 non-starchy vegetables. This is the best way to get in all of your major nutrients without eating too much. (Tracy Mann, Registered Dietitian)
When you’re cooking for a whole week, things can get boring after a few days. Use the repurposing technique to get more interesting variation in meals. Example: Make a lot of chicken and rice, but do different things with it every day. Make a mexican bowl one day and a delicious lettuce wrap the next. (Melissa Eboli, certified nutrition and wellness counselor (CNWC) and certified culinary nutrition expert (CNE))
Stocking your kitchen with healthy snacking options like easy-to-eat vegetables and fruit makes the choice of what to eat effortless.(DR. Lisa Young, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, PhD)
Some people may go on one big shopping trip and then make all of their meals for the week at once. Some may shop more frequently, and some may order prepared foods online to save time. Be aware of which person you are and adjust accordingly. As long as there’s a plan that you’re acting on, it’s still meal planning! (Katherine Kimber, Registered Dietitian)
Old food isn’t appetizing and trying to force yourself to eat it can lead to you abandoning your meal plan or wasting food and money. Meal planning for shorter periods of time will make it less likely for you to get tired of what you’re eating. (Rhea Doctolero, Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach)
Breakfast is usually fast and simple to make, so using this meal as a chance to add more variety and spontaneity into your weekly diets is a good idea. As long as you’re still making healthy choices that fit into your nutritional needs, use breakfast to be creative, and enjoy! (Rhea Doctolero, Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach)
Meal prepping, like any dietary or lifestyle change, requires discipline. Creating a structured plan on paper can help you stay consistent. Planning out the foods you’ll eat, the portion sizes, and when your meal times are will help you visualize the plan. Now you just have to stick to it. (Dr. Lisa Young, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, PhD)
Making food that you’ll feel good eating is essential to the success of meal planning. In the colder months, perhaps making enough hardy soup for the whole week would suffice, whereas in the summer, you’d prefer a prepared salad mix. Other factors like recent cravings should also be considered. (Katherine Kimber, Registered Dietitian)
They say that the best diet is the one you can stick to, so make sure you’re making food that you actually find appetizing and filling, while still being healthy. If you enjoy flavor, you shouldn’t be making plain salads and grilled chicken breasts with brown rice, because chances are you won’t continue down the meal planning path. You should still enjoy eating! (Colleen Christensen, Registered Dietitian)
Pay attention to how much food you actually need to feel satisfied. Many people overeat without realizing it because restaurants have larger than normal portion sizes. Portion control will help you perfect your meal plan and ensure that you’re eating the right amount. (Shannon Henry, Registered Dietitian)
When planning meals, it’s important to be realistic and flexible. If you’re going to be out of the house for the majority of your meals, plan to make something transportable that won’t spoil easily. If you know you’re hosting a get-together soon, incorporate your major nutrients into the dishes you prepare and make them healthy! (Katherine Kimber, Registered Dietitian)
When you get hungry, it’s easy to make unhealthy decisions. If you’re driving home from work and know you don’t have anything good waiting for you, it’s very tempting to stop at the nearest fast food restaurant. Meal planning helps you stay on track and see the health and weight loss results you want because you have delicious food at your fingertips for every meal.
Being consistent is the most important thing when it comes to reaching any goal, and using meal planning as a tool can help you stay diligent. Follow the 12 expert tips above on how to meal plan to get started on your journey of nutrition and wellness!
▶ Take advantage of our Nutiro Ultimate Guide on How to Meal Plan that gives you the flexibility to enjoy other meal planning options such as keto, paleo, vegan, gluten-free, etc.