Becoming a Master Meal Planner
Stop Looking For the Meal Plans
Do you search online for meal plans? Maybe you have bought a program that includes meal plans? We hear it often, “Will you give me a meal plan?”
You know meal planning would make your life easier during the week. You know meal planning would help you stick to healthy habits better. You know meal planning would help you reach your health goals. But it takes time to meal plan. Time you don’t feel you have.
So you search for premade meal plans or buy a meal plan program. And they can be good. But they aren’t perfect. And they aren’t perfect because most often, those meal plans don’t work well for you. They don’t fit your tastes, schedule, or lifestyle. They may give you a recipe or two to try but overall, they don’t get you closer to your goal of establishing the habit of meal planning.
Many times you may want a meal plan so you are just being told what to eat. Or you want a meal plan so you don’t have to think about what to make. You assume it would save you some time.
We understand meal planning doesn’t come easy for everyone. Getting or learning how to meal plan is one of the top desires we hear from clients. There is a lot of confusion about how to be healthy, where to start, and most of all, how to make it happen in your busy life.
You CAN Master Meal Planning
Here at 7Core, we help busy people achieve the art of meal planning in a simple way. We don’t give out meal plans. Instead, we coach you on how to become a meal planning master specific to your tastes, your schedule, and your lifestyle.
Handing someone a meal plan for the week is like always tying a kid’s shoe for them. What are they going to do when their shoe comes untied and you aren’t there to tie it back? Their chance of tripping increases dramatically. And if you have had kids, you know what results when someone hits the pavement.
Just like parents know they need their kids to master the art of shoe tying, we at 7Core know how important it is for you to become a meal planning master for yourself. We all know what happens when your meal plans unravel-- unhealthy eating, falling off the wagon, and regret. So, we have compiled a list of the most common speed bumps we’ve seen impact our clients’ meal planning progress over the years.
6 Common Speed Bumps to Meal Planning Progress
You might struggle to establish the habit of meal planning for many reasons. See if any of these apply to you.
- You don’t want another thing to plan.
- You are confused about what is and isn’t healthy.
- It takes too long to plan for the week.
- You think have to prep a bunch.
- You don’t want to cook every night.
- You are not sure how to plan for your busy week.
Before you can even sit down to meal plan, you need to overcome these struggles, these speed bumps. Then, you will be more successful in meal planning every week.
How to Fix the Speed Bumps
In our Master Healthy Habits Method, there are three non-negotiables for success. In the 2nd non-negotiable, The Right Plan, we coach you on how to identify the challenges preventing success and find a way to overcome them.
So we have identified the most frequent challenges, speed bumps, for meal planning. Now, let’s look at some ways to overcome them, so you can become a master meal planner.
I am going to make this super simple. Because regardless of how the wellness industry has complicated it, meal planning is simple. Plus, you are busy. You need things to be simple and easy.
Speed bump #1 - You don’t want another thing to plan.
*Sigh* “I plan for clients, meetings, work growth, kids activities, doctor’s appointments, what to wear, etc. I don’t want to plan another thing! Plus it is no fun!” *Said in a whiny voice.*
I am going to be really straightforward here. We are talking about your health and wellness. It is too important and valuable to mess around with it. YOU are too important and too valuable...to not do what you need to do to master your healthy lifestyle. And that has to include planning your meals.
The only exception to this is if you have the means for all your meals to be provided. But very few of us can do that. So that leaves you with the responsibility to create the habit of meal planning for yourself and your family.
This may be an important mindset change for you. (Master Healthy Habits Method Non-negotiable #1 - The Right Mindset) If you can’t get past seeing meal planning as misery instead of a necessity, then you don’t need to proceed any further.
But I hope that isn’t the case and you do see the importance of making this a priority in your life.
Speed bump #2 - You don’t know what is and isn’t healthy.
Let’s cut through the chaos of eating information.
What to eat:
- Whole, real food including lots of veggies and fruit, quality protein, whole grain carbs, and good fat.
What to have only in very small amounts:
- Highly processed foods or those that have artificial ingredients and added sugar.
So eat REAL STUFF! It is that simple. Foods where the food is the ingredient. Whole oats instead of cereal. More veggies instead of pastas and breads. Honey or maple syrup in place of table sugar or artificial syrups. Plain greek yogurt not sugary yogurts. Also, watch for those premade meals--they can be full of artificial ingredients and sugar to make it last longer and taste better.
For more help clarifying healthy eating, see my article Erase Confusion About Real Food.
If your cravings for unhealthy foods tend to control you, see my article How To Train Your Taste Buds.
If you aren’t sure what counts for a veggie, fruit, good carb, good fat, or quality protein, please check out this guide by Precision Nutrition. Or email me, ask, and let me clarify. I don’t want you to have any confusion about what foods are best to eat.
Speed bump #3 - It takes you too long to plan for the week.
You hear that meal planning shouldn’t take very long every week, but after an hour you still don’t seem to have much planned. That may leave you frustrated.
One reason it may take you too long is because you don’t have a quick reference for your recipes. One place to locate your go-to recipes rather than searching around. This is a MUST. Some ideas are: a binder with printed recipes, create folders online or on Pinterest to bookmark recipes, or use a recipe saving app like Paprika. That is my go to app. The ONLY recipes in there are ones I have made and really like. Plus I can add notes.
So if you don’t have this. You will need to either take some time to create it or over time start stockpiling. As you find a recipe you like, print it off, bookmark it, or put it in a recipe app. As you build your library, only pick one new recipe a week to try. If it’s great, print it, bookmark it, pin it, or save it.
For some healthy recipe ideas, check out the recipes on our blog.
If you have a quick reference for recipes, but find meal planning still takes a long time, see number #6.
Speed bump #4 - You think you have to prep a bunch.
“I plan but then I have to prep! Ugh, soooo much work.” *Again, said in a whiny voice.*
Maybe you don’t have to prep as much as you think you do. To focus on what to prep, consider which meal you struggle with the most. Start with prepping that meal. Make it easy to grab or heat up and eat.
Working from home can make it so easy to pick out whatever for lunch, but I don’t want to leave that to chance. So I prep my lunch salads on Sunday. It only takes 30 minutes and I also have containers of veggies made. That is all I prep for the week.
Some other ideas for prep:
- As you cut up veggies for one meal, cut extra for another.
- While a meal is cooking, prep your lunch or breakfast for the next day or three days.
- If cooking meat for a meal, make extra for lunch the next day.
- Double meals. More details in the next point.
Speed bump #5 - You don’t want to cook every night.
I don’t blame ya. Neither do I. And you don’t need to. Take a night off from cooking. Make this part of your planning.
The key to keeping you from going through a drive-through or ordering take-out is doubling meals. Almost every week, I double Sunday and Monday dinners for leftovers. Sometimes Tuesdays, too. So that makes leftover night for us Wednesday and Thursday. Friday, I might make homemade pizza or we have leftovers. Saturday is our time to go out to eat.
If you don’t eat your leftovers, maybe you can freeze them. Or have leftovers for lunch the next day or so. Healthy dinner leftovers for lunch are a great option.
Speed bumps #6 - You are not sure how to plan for your busy week.
I’m talking about how YOU plan efficiently for your week, not someone else planning for your week. This skill takes some time and practice to develop. If planning for all the meals for a whole week seems overwhelming, start with just one meal time a week and gradually add more. Make what you have for breakfast, lunches, and snacks super simple. For these meals, I pretty much have the same thing each week.
Dinners tend to be the most challenging for people because they are either tired after a long day and/or have events with the kids. I’ve written a whole article on this so I won’t repeat everything here other than the quick steps. So for more details please read How To Make Healthy Dinners Happen in a Busy Week.
Here is how I coach my clients to meal plan dinners for a week. Look at your week and ask yourself...
- Which nights do I have time to cook, even a 30-minute meal?
- Plan meals for these nights, maybe doubling 1 to 3 recipes as needed for leftovers.
- Which nights do I NOT have time to cook or want a break from cooking?
- Plan leftover meals for as many of these nights as possible. If planning to eat out, look at the menu ahead of time and plan your healthy dinner. Or use a healthy meal delivery service, if available where you live.
- Which nights do I already have dinner engagements scheduled?
- For these nights, pick the healthiest options available, focus on proteins and veggies.
- What night (if any) will be a treat dinner?
- Limit this to one meal a week and make it *good* but not plentiful. If you’re going to indulge, make it worth it.
Now, Your Turn
Let’s recap. Here is what you need to do to become a master meal planner:
- Go through the speed bumps and fix all of them that apply to you.
- Schedule a time to plan & then plan for your busy week.
- Get your food and be ready for the week!
Oh, and for a great meal planning tool, get our free Weekly Meal Planner.
Weekly Meal Planner
If meal planning or trying to create a healthy lifestyle still seems overwhelming to you, set up a free 20-minute session with me. I am here to help you remove the overwhelm and make mastering a healthy lifestyle simple.
To your best health and wellness,