Sunday’s meal planning sessions are always a puzzle for me, trying to figure out where all the containers fit into the day. But it’s helped me keep my carb intake at a minimum (confession, carbs are my favourite food group) while forcing me to eat more proteins and veggies (always a struggle). At first planning your meals can be really stressful, you need to find a system what works for you. Meaning this system might not work for you but it can give you an idea of how to start planning.
First create a list of food that you know you like to eat and which categories they fit into and then work from there. Once we made our food list planning and shopping became a lot easier.
Because I’m a massive fan of The Day Designer, I use her free printables to plan out our week. I have a stack of weekly meal plans in my Filofax, I use this to plan out our dinners for the week. Next I begin filling in our eating guide, we each have our own because we have difference allowances based on weight and I prefer a lighter breakfast while Rich prefers a simple lunch.
As you’ll notice both of my snacks are the same every day. Because 1/2 of a large banana is a full purple container, we stick to small-medium bananas so I can eat the whole thing without feeling guilty.
Next I add in lunches, during the week I try and have the same thing: rice with vegetables and turkey. This is one because I love rice and two it’s easy to make in a large batch Sunday afternoon for the whole week. Followed by adding breakfast, normally I love breakfast but I’ve been turned off it during the week because I’m normally rushing so I stick to either cereal or biscuits (crackers) both of which are one yellow container, meaning I can choose what I want in the morning without altering the rest of my plan.
For comparison, here is a look at Rich’s starting eating guide…
Then I add in dinners. To determine the serving I see what containers are left and that’s what I have for dinner. I always leave lunch and dinner for the weekend empty in case some last minute plans come up if not we try to make meals based off of what’s left in the fridge and freezer from the week so we don’t waste any food and have an empty fridge for next Sunday’s shopping trip.
(You’ll notice I don’t schedule any orange containers because lately I’ve been using that as my snack after work while I’m cooking dinner.) I then use the number of containers to determine how many ingredients I need and add that to my weekly meal planner. Once I have all the ingredients for dinner, I transfer the list to another day designer printable, the grocery shopping list which is divided by type of food.
After transfer dinner ingredients to this list I add everything else for breakfast, lunch and snacks. Once we have a massive list (mostly vegetables, fruit and meat) we go shopping and the cooking begins. On Sunday’s I make lunches for the week and Rich’s breakfast (egg muffins) and keep them in the fridge. Meanwhile, Rich measures out all the fruit into the correct portions. Then I determine what prep can be done for dinners, normally this means chopping peppers, onions, etc. We prep all our dinners for Monday-Wednesday and then Wednesday after dinner we do Thursday & Friday’s meal preps.
I know this sounds tedious and just writing it out makes it seem stressful but once you get in a routine it’s not too bad. But it is easy to see why we failed the first time, this time though I know what works and what doesn’t work.
I no longer panic if I don’t use every container in my plan because I know I’ll probably want to snack on something while watching TV at night. For example, it can be difficult to use a blue container everyday but if I want a snack later I can have any selection of nuts we normally keep (pistachios, peanuts, cashews) for a blue container at night. I’ve found it’s better to have at least one spare container at the end of the day for those late night cravings, some times I’ll have pistachios or some nights it’s yogurt or even some homemade kale chips, all depending on what container I’ve saved for that night.
I hope this doesn’t seem too confusing or time consuming, if you have any better tips and tricks to how you plan out your week of meals please comment below.
Featured Photo from Better Health for Women.