Embarking on a new diet or wellness program can often be challenging. As you attempt to eliminate those “problem foods” or to introduce new super foods to your lifestyle, you may not know where to begin! Those regular staples you once fell back on are now out of the picture, and you might find yourself struggling to figure out what to eat or how best to stock your kitchen.
Meal planning can be a simple and effective answer to the overwhelming questions, “What groceries should I buy and what should I make for dinner tonight?” No matter what your dietary preferences or limitations may be, a meal plan is a great way to prepare yourself for the week ahead and to avoid wasting food!
I’ve created a meal planning template of my own that I use regularly, and I find it extremely useful to incorporate into my busy schedule. Click here to download my meal plan template as a Microsoft Excel file that you can edit, or click here to download the PDF version to print.
Having a meal plan keeps me on track and helps me avoid going to Publix four times in one week (as much as I love grocery shopping). It also allows me to turn my “hey-I-saw-this-on-Pinterest-and-I-want-to-make-it” dreams into a reality because I know which ingredients to purchase ahead of time.
Here are a few tips for creating your own weekly meal plan that works for you:
- Think about what you will be doing that week. In my event-driven job, I am constantly working during meal times and often exposed to delicious but unhealthy free foods. (I’m thinking of you, pizza!) When I think about my schedule when meal planning, I can determine when I will need to pack a lunch that will keep me away from the pizza box, or (if I know I’ll be working late), I can decide ahead of time to pack a snack to tide me over until I get home. On my personal downloadable meal plan, you can actually fill in your daily activities and add notes for these days.
- Think critically about meal prep. On my meal plan, I like to include certain tasks, such as “defrost chicken” or “hard-boil eggs,” to ensure that these foods are ready by the time I am ready for them. I may also incorporate my weekly schedule by adding the reminder to “pack lunch for tomorrow.” These “meal prep tasks for the next day” are the perfect way to make sure your ingredients are ready to go.
- Consider packaging and portion sizes. Buying a fresh head of broccoli? Think about how many servings you will make with that, and implement those into your plan. For example, if a package of cauliflower florets yields two individual recipes with cauliflower, you should include two cauliflower meals on your meal plan so that your produce doesn’t go bad.
- Keep staples on hand. If you know that you regularly use a certain ingredient, such as almond flour or coconut oil, always make sure you are fully stocked. It’s always disappointing when you are dying to try a new recipe but have to run to the store at the last minute to pick up a basic ingredient. Always check your cupboards before shopping.
Once again, you can download my weekly meal planner template as an Excel file here or as a PDF here. For recipe inspiration, check out my Pinterest boards!
What are your weekly meal plan tips? Share yours in the comments section below!