However, even planning wasn't always a picnic. I feel that I have just recently found a system that works for me, and I'm so thankful. It makes my life a lot easier, less stressful, my diet is better, and my grocery trips are lighter (not necessarily cheaper, though!). My basic plan is to plot out each meal I will eat for the day - breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack - for an entire week (or 7 day period as my schedule spans two different weeks). I made a simple Word document template that I fill in each week the night before my shopping day. As I fill it in, I make my grocery list and try to include new meals. I also save all my old menus so that I can see what I have been eating or what hasn't worked well in the past.
Room for Error
|My meal planner template|
As with every plan, changes are needed as new obstacles are approaching. Some things I'm finding that need to change are:
Variety: I need more variety. I've relied on the same few snacks for the past few weeks and I am so bored!
Dessert: I need to plan for what days I eat dessert. If I don't, it turns into eating dessert every day!
Special Treats: Along with that, I want to plan for at least one really good dessert every other week (hello, Pinterest dessert board!)
Proof reading: I need to thoroughly read through my plan before printing it. Too often I have found that one day, I will plan to have peanut butter twice in a row or Greek yogurt for every meal. Whoops!
Tips for Using this System
- Plan meals you will actually eat. If you don't eat raw fish for breakfast or eat salad seven days a week, why put it on your menu planner? Obviously, incorporating new foods into your menu gradually is a good thing, but if you plans are unrealistic, you're more likely to fail.
- Give yourself room for error. Something will come up in your schedule or some day you just won't feel like having what you planned. No big deal. Switch out a meal with something else, and then get back on track for the next meal or next day. Don't beat yourself up about the ways that life may be different from your plan.
- I personally think that not listing calories on the menu is more effective. I usually know the calorie counts of all the meals I plan, but I don't list them so my mind is not focused on calories, but real food.
- Post the menu on your fridge. It will force you to recognize your plan every time you open your fridge or go in the kitchen. It will also make your plan known to anyone else who you may live with.
- As I mentioned before, save your old menus to look back on for that long lost meal that you loved.
- Don't over-plan or over-scrutinize your plan. Having a general guideline for what you are eating is good, but planning things down to the tablespoon of creamer you're having in your coffee may be a little overkill.
Food is a topic that differs for everyone. What works for me may be horribly wrong for you. This is the way that my diet makes sense to me. It's not perfect all the time, or ever for that matter.
What do you do to plan your meals? What works for you?