Tired of eating the same exact thing for 5 days straight when you’re meal planning? While this may work while training for a fitness competition, it doesn’t work in the real world. No one wants to eat the exact same 3 things for 5 or so days straight. When you meal plan this way you are setting yourself up for failure.
There is a much better way to meal plan!
Having worked with hundreds of health coaching clients, and living a healthy lifestyle myself, there is only one type of meal planning that people can stick to for life. It’s called Flexible Meal Planning.
What Flexible Meal Planning Is
Flexible Meal Planning is when you make a plan and are flexible on what days you make it. Here’s how it works. For the week you plan:
- 2 breakfasts
- 2 lunches
- 5 dinners
Then you see what you’re in the mood for and make it that night. If you really like to plan, you can look at your schedule and plan the super simple meals for the busy nights where you don’t have a lot of time. Then plan the ones that take more time for the evenings you have the extra time. However, know that you can change your mind and eat another meal.
The Reasons This Works
#1) This way of planning works because you have all the ingredients on hand and allows you to pick what you’re in the mood for. How many times have you planned a meal, like spaghetti for example, then on Tuesday you’re REALLY NOT feeling spaghetti, so you skip it and dine out?
#2) You buy and use what you need which saves you money while still allowing you to eat delicious food when you choose to eat it.
#3) It gives you enough variety to enjoy your meals without giving you so much variety that food is wasted or enough variety you don’t get bored with your healthy meals and dine out instead. It’s a win-win all around.
#4) It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to eat better or following a therapeutic diet, it makes your life a million times easier because you have flexibility and control. Preventing food boredom means you’re much more likely to stay the course. This means your health will improve and stay improved because you’re nourishing yourself well.
A Few More Tips
Meal planning for the weekends. A lot of people ask me why I don’t plan for 7 days and don’t recommend it to my clients. Over the years I’ve learned that people rarely eat what they plan on the weekends. They get busy, go out, plans get derailed, they want to go out, etc. People like a bit more freedom on the weekends and I can’t blame them. They have time to live a bit! You totally can and if it works for your family, awesome! I love to do more elaborate, time-consuming meals on the weekends. I even typically pre-cook meats and veggies on the weekends to make our weekday meals even easier to toss together.
Take advantage of shortcuts. You do not have to cut up your own vegetables or even marinate your own meats. Many stores have so many prepped options for you, if you don’t want to do 100% of the work yourself you don’t have to! I hardly ever cut up a head a broccoli. I buy the florets in a bag because it makes weeknights a whole lot easier. You have permission to do the same. Cooking and eating healthy shouldn’t be punishment or miserable. It should be easy and delicious.
Stock up on herbs, spices, and a variety of dressings and marinades. You can make pretty much any vegetables and meat combo taste at least 12 different ways depending on the spices or dressings you use to cook with. Then, when you aren’t in the mood for what you planned you can still use the same ingredients but make a completely different meal! Learn how to get started here. It’s a game-changer.
If you’re new to meal planning, eat what you’re used to cooking but add a vegetable to every meal. This will help you eat healthier while slowly incorporating healthy recipes you try and like on the weekends and move into your weekdays. A great way to start is to add a salad to your lunch and roasted veggies with your dinner. Add fruit to go with your normal breakfast. If you’re a smoothie drinker, add some spinach in.
Flexible meal planning is truly the way to plan without feeling stuck, thus leading to sticking to your healthy meals, reducing the number of times you dine out and saving you a lot of money. If you’d like a meal plan with healthy recipes to get you started, check out my Meal Planning Program here.