Client Core Habit: Create A Weekly Meal Plan
Question: Did you create a meal plan for the week?
How To Know You’ve Done This: Make a meal plan each and every week.
A great business coach once said, if you can’t make it work on paper, you’ll never make it work in real life. Although he was speaking about financials, this is still very true in the world of nutrition.
If you can’t make your healthy eating plan for the week work on paper, it won’t work in reality. Too often, we head into the week with a vague intention of eating healthy and no real, actionable plan to make it happen. When Wednesday night hits and everyone in the family has been out and about all day, UberEats gets the call and your health eating for the week takes a dive. But, if you take the time to plan ahead, you can be ready with leftover or a really easy meal on Wednesday night to ensure you stay true to your identity as a healthy human.
What Is A Meal Plan?
A meal plan is like a weekly budget for your food. You make the decision beforehand and intentionally what you’ll eat each and every week. Plan for lots of variety and fun in your meals or go simple and easy. It’s up to you, but you need a plan!
Why Is This Habit Core?
Meal planning brings a sense of tranquility and peace to your weekly decisions each and every week.
1. Save Time
Before each week starts, you’ll set aside 30 minutes to plan out your meals for the week. Many people find this process to be painful. But they always feel amazing relief after they’ve planned their meals for the week.
Even though you’ll need to carve out some time to plan your food for the week, this will save time later on. You’ll eliminate the time spent agonizing over what to eat for dinner each and every night. You’ll mitigate extra trips to the grocery store. Planning your meals for the week saves time!
2. Food Quality
Meal planning also helps you save money and buy the highest quality food possible because you won't be as likely to buy too much and waste food. It will also save time because you won’t be running to the grocery store every night to get items for dinner.
3. Save Money
You’ll waste less food when you plan out what you’ll eat for the week. This will enable you to spend more of your hard-earned money on high quality food. We think spending more on your food is a good thing. Buying high quality food, caring about how it’s prepared, and taking the time to eat it slowly and in community feeds into the identity of being healthy and living life on purpose.
4. Stay Sane
Walk into the kitchen prepared like a boss! Since you know what your cooking and have all the ingredients on hand, you can listen to a podcast, manage children, or even chat with friends while you cook.
5. Overcome Decision Fatigue
In today’s world of busy schedules, hectic lives, and stress, we need to create a plan if we are to live a healthy life. The busier you are, the more important having a plan becomes.
From the moment we wake up, we make decisions. Small decisions like “should I do eggs or frosted flakes for breakfast?” or “Do I give the temper-tantruming toddler a timeout or let it slide because I’m tired?” to big decisions like “Should I bring up the thing that’s bugging me with my boss today?” or “Is it the right time to move my folks to an assisted living facility?”
As we leave work and head home for the day, our brain will be fatigued from an entire day of making decisions. And this is the time when ice cream seems to magically appear as we innocently open the freezer. The world is out to get us!
If we come home without know exactly “what’s for dinner” the likelihood of making a good food-related decision is slim indeed. We are much more likely to stop off and grab some fast food or call in takeout than to get out pans, defrost the grass fed steak and saute some veggies. In the absence of a plan, we are more likely to make the easy choice. Easy is usually not synonymous with healthy. But if we have already planned, purchased, and marinated said grass-fed steak, we have a much better chance of making a good decision in the moment.
Making a meal plan is like making decisions in the now for your future, less likely to make good decisions self. When you get to the decision time, you can simply step into the decision you’ve already made.
In the absence of a plan, we tend to eat the same foods again and again. If you usually eat ground beef, spinach, and raw cheese on Tuesdays, the pattern will continue. But variety is the spice of life. And it’s important for ensuring we eat a diet rich in nutrient dense foods in a wide variety. Those who meal plan eat healthier. Plain and simple. Research shows that a weekly meal plan leads to better decisions in the food we eat.
How To Do This Habit?
Meal planning is tough when your just getting started. But that doesn’t mean you should give up. Imagine if your parents saw you attempting to walk for the first time, and seeing you struggle decided that you just weren’t fit for walking and prevented you from doing it? It crazy, right? Instead, they helped you get back up and encouraged you to keep going. It’s the same with meal planning. Even though it’s tough at first, you’ve got to keep trying.
First, grab your calendar, our meal planning template, and grocery list.
Plan out when you will shop and where you will go.
Decide on your monthly grocery budget. If you want, you can divide this by 4 for a weekly budget. Take note as some months have 5 weeks. You can also allocate some money each month towards large monthly items like an internet order of grass-fed meat from Primal Pastures.
Take a peek through the fridge, pantry and/or cupboards. Check on any items expiring soon and integrate them into your weekly meals.
Check out your favorite cookbooks, or ours (coming soon)! Internet food blogs, or family recipes and decide on recipes you’ll do each week.
Take note of date night, meals with friends/family, or meals on the go and plug those into your calendar.
Plug it all into your meal plan for the week looking at your calendar to make sure you’ll have ample time to prep all the meals you’re planning on each day of the week.
Make a grocery list with all of the items you’ll need for the week.
It should look something like this:
Although we provide a template for a great meal plan, you don’t have to follow this exactly to be successful with this client core habit. Maybe your “Meal Plan” consists of writing out what you will eat for dinner each night of the week.
Write out as much of your week’s meals as you can.
It’s important to note that this will be a difficult (and painful) process which you will want to avoid like the plague. Seriously. Planning is often a painful process which requires you to make a bevy of decisions that are energetically costly. Your brain will resist every step of the planning process. You’ll tell yourself you don’t have enough information to plan things out and that you need to wait. But don’t! Plan out as much as you can and don’t sweat the rest.
10 Tips for Meal Planning
1. Make time to meal plan. Set your calendar out and your template and be ready to realistically plan out your week (It’s not realistic for most people to shop & cook every night of the week, so don’t plan on something you can’t do or follow through with). Even if you don’t know what your whole week looks like, fill out as much as possible & then fill in the gaps as the week goes on. If you don’t plan for a meal, you are more likely to either snack on processed foods or eat out.
2. One soup/chili. Make at least one soup in a double batch. This is easy to eat for leftovers, and easy to freeze.
3. Salad for lunch. Instead of having a sandwich for lunch, swap it out for a salad or leftovers. You could even put together the other toppings for your salad in separate tupperwares, then add lettuce/greens and dressing.
4. Batch cook. Pick 1-2 days a week where you have 2-3 hours to cook in bulk. Cook enough chicken for the week. Roast a bunch of veggies to keep on hand for lunches or dinners. Make frittata for the week, so then you only have to make breakfast one time for the whole week.
5. Shop sales? No...Menu plan, then shop. If you don’t have a plan, you are way more likely to spend money on things you don’t need. You will end up wasting a lot more food and money in the long run by shopping with no plan. However, if a staple in your kitchen goes on sale, if the budget allows, stock up on that item. When wild-caught Alaskan Salmon goes on sale, I will ask them to bring me 10 frozen fillets from the back and keep them in the freezer until ready to use! Same goes with other meats as well as things like oils and dressings.
6. Seasonal meal plan. Write 2 weekly meal plans and alternate between these two weeks while that produce is in season.
7. Enlist help. School and other extracurricular activities should not be an excuse for kiddos to not help in the kitchen or with grocery shopping. One of the best gifts we can give our kids is teaching them to shop and cook for themselves.
8. Learn to love leftovers. If you make something for dinner always make enough for at least 2 dinners or 1 dinner and 1 lunch. Double, triple & quadruple recipes. It is so nice to come home after a long day and be able to heat your home-cooked & nutritious meal up in 10 minutes rather than spending another hour making a different dinner.
9. Veggie Love. If you take the time to cut up your veggies, you are much more likely to eat them. Try to prep your veggies the day you bring them home or by the next day.
10. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Find 5-10 favorite family recipes & repeat often. This saves time and frees you up to spend time doing what you love.
Frequently Asked Questions
What If I’m Eating Out?
Take a peek at the menu and decide what you’re going to eat. At the very least make a plan to order well and create a plan for yourself. Maybe you decide to have a drink and forgo the bread at the table and dessert.