Simplify your Life with Meal Planning
By Unite Fitness Retreat Nutritionist, Brooke Bouwhuis
What’s for dinner? Do you loathe that question? Here at Unite Fitness Retreat, we focus a good deal on meal prepping and planning for when you go home so you’ll have success long after you leave our health retreat. It’s pretty nice when you have someone doing the planning, shopping, and cooking for you, but when you go home, that’s probably not the case.
What if there were an easier way to approach the “What’s for dinner” question that inevitably pops up each day? What if you only had to ask that question once a week? Don’t you feel like you freed up some space in your head with that answer?
Meal planning is critical in keeping you on the path to improved health and wellness. The tricky part is having the discipline to take the time to solve the problem to that daily question.
3 simple steps will make planning and meal prepping a cinch
The first step in planning for your success is to designate a day to make the plan. Let’s say you grocery shop on Saturday. Either Friday or Saturday before you shop it’s time to create the menu plan for the week.
Start by listing your families schedule. Work, carpools, practices, meetings, parties, competitions…. whatever happens during the week, mark it down. When you see what days you have no time and what days you have a moment to spare it helps determine what will happen for meals.
On days that are nuts, plan for a crock pot meal or freezer meal you prep beforehand. Days with a little more breathing room are days you can spend a little more time on dinner. Remember to plan for leftovers or make enough with dinner to have leftovers you can use for lunch each day.
Struggling with what to make? Pinterest is an easy place to turn to recipes to help get you out of a rut. They have millions of recipes that are easy to navigate and search. It is also a cinch to find recipes that meet your needs. For example, you can search “easy paleo beef” or “whole-30 chicken crockpot.”
Here are a few of our favorite sites which have gobs of free recipes and free meal plans. Some sites even offer subscription services for meal plans, so the planning is done for you.
- Real Food Dietitians – you can find dairy-free, nut-free, paleo, egg-free, grain-free, gluten-free, vegan and whole 30 recipes here. 12 weeks of free meal plans available too.
- 100 Days of Real Food – whole food focus, free sample meal plans and more available for purchase
Once you have your recipes down, make a grocery list. On your list, categorize those things you need that are in a physically similar place together. For example, list all the produce items you need in one category. List all the bulk, dairy, frozen, pantry items, etc in a similar fashion. This will make shopping more efficient, less frustrating and faster.
On your prep day, take an hour and chop veggies, portion meat, make dressings and marinades. Do those things that will simplify pulling together dinner during the week. Put everything ready to go in Tupperware in the refrigerator so you are set for the week.
Pick your day to plan. Shop for what you need. Prep what you can to make the week go smoother. It’s all worth it when you only need to ask once a week, “What is for dinner?”