“Proper planning and preparation prevent poor performance.”
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Without a doubt, having a plan is one of the most important things we can do to eat healthy, flavorful meals and avoid the processed-food temptations lurking all around us!
Why is it so important?
Planning and prepping food for meals and snacks saves you time, money, your sanity and best of all...it helps you eat healthier!
How often do you find yourself at 5:00 PM wondering...what in the world are we going to do for dinner? What do you do? This is where many people resort to going out to eat, picking up something on the way home, ordering pizza or quickly throwing something together (which is typically NOT healthy).
There are some food planning tips and strategies to help overcome the stress of not only dinnertime, but breakfast, lunch and snacks too...and it can be easier than you think! It just requires some planning and organization...trust us, if we can do it with our crazy schedules, we have full faith and confidence that you can too!
Imagine how great it would feel to have a healthy overnight oatmeal ready to grab-and-go in the morning, or to be the envy of your co-workers when they see you snacking on spiced mixed nuts and seasoned air-popped popcorn! Or coming home in the evening, knowing exactly what you are having for dinner and that it will only require a few minutes to get your delicious, healthy meal on the table!
And, how fantastic would it be to have extra money in the bank at the end of the month because you cut back on how many times you ate out for lunch, grabbed carry out for dinner, or hit the vending machine or convenience store at work?!
True or false?
Replacing one fast food dinner a week, with one REAL FOOD meal at home could help you drop seven pounds in a year.
ANSWER: It's TRUE!
How? Because restaurant meals easily contain 500 more calories than meals made with REAL ingredients at home. Just think if you cook MORE than once a week at home!
How would it feel to know what's for dinner every night this coming week...
prepare yourself, because you are about to do JUST THAT!
The steps are simple…the challenge is making this a consistent part of your weekly routine.
- Plan: choose your snacks and meals for the week - use a meal planning calendar like this one if necessary to stay organized. Take a look at your week and have specific ideas for what you can do on the especially busy weeknights. (It is a good idea to be on the slightly hungry side when you do this -- it will be much more fun and easier to do.)
- Stock up: focus on stocking your fridge and pantry with REAL food and ingredients! (We suggest you are NOT hungry when you do this, to help you keep those impulse processed food purchases to a minimum.)
- Prepare: prep ingredients, meals and snacks to help meals come together faster. And involve family members to help you! You will be amazed at how this time together can yield meaningful conversations, as well as teaching a life-long skill. For a lot of people, Sunday afternoon or evening may be a great time to do this, but it doesn’t have to be Sunday…find what works best for you!
Tips to help make this part of your routine:
Start small! If you are just starting to make this part of your routine, it is crucial to not get overwhelmed. Remember, it's OK to start small!
- Make a batch (or two) of Almond Butter Bites or Chocolate Chia Energy Bites. They both freeze beautifully and are super easy to transport. Plus, they make great snacks and are an excellent way to satisfy a sweet craving.
- Homemade hummus, such as the Cilantro Lime Hummus, can be dished up in mason jars with raw veggies on top. Prepare several mason jars so they are ready to grab-and-go.
- Prepare the Yogurt Fruit and Nutty Salad…it's an ideal well-balanced snack. Again, mason jars are a great way to have individual servings ready to go.
- Homemade granola - ready to eat all by itself or to top plain Greek yogurt and fresh berries.
- Prepare slices of sweet potatoes that are ready to pop in the toaster, and then top with almond butter and sliced banana and pears...this could be the perfect snack to get you through until dinnertime! See our coaching tip for more about sweet potato toast!
Make your breakfast routine super-simple!
- Overnight Oatmeal - prepped the night or even a few days before, overnight oatmeal can make "grab-and-go breakfast" take on a whole new delicious meaning!
- Maple Berry Muffins are ideal for not only breakfast, but snack time too -- plus, they freeze great!
- Chunky Monkey Breakfast Cookies...who wouldn't want a healthy breakfast, in a cookie? Go ahead and double the batch and store some in the freezer! Pull one or two out and stick them in the microwave for 10 seconds…delicious with your morning coffee!
- Mini Frittatas - baked up in a muffin pan, these are a perfect quick breakfast!
- Mug of Eggs - now you know what to do with those oversized coffee mugs that never get used!
- Bag up or package up ingredients for smoothies and place in the freezer. Then they are ready to add liquid and blend!
Make dinnertime even easier…and more delicious…than those “convenience” foods!
- Cook the Seasoned Slow Cooker Chicken - you will have chicken ready to turn into quick and easy meals throughout the week…some great options include the Thai Pizza, Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps, Loaded Chicken Salad Sandwich, plus many more.
- Cook sweet potatoes in the slow cooker, which can be transformed in a matter of minutes into meals such as the Southwest Stuffed Sweet Potato or Sweet Potato Quesadillas.
- Make a batch of beans in the slow cooker for a punch of protein that is ready to add to salads, wraps, or simple rice and veggie bowls.
- Mason Jar Salads - make up several at a time for great-tasting quick lunches or dinners.
- Pre-cook a batch (or two) of quinoa. It is ideal to cook ahead of time, and then it can be used with stir fry dishes or in place of rice for so many meals such as the Shrimp and Cilantro Lime Quinoa Bowl, Cheeseburger Quinoa Bites, or Asian Beef with Peppers.
- Go ahead and cut and prep veggies for stir fry dishes and one pot meals such as the Sausage and Vegetable Stir Fry and One Pot Moroccan Vegetable Curry.
- Take advantage of 2-for-1 meals, such as the Slow Cooker Thai Inspired Pulled Pork that easily turns into Banh Mi Sandwiches or Irish Pork and Fruit Curry.
- Hard boil eggs ahead of time -- they are perfect to have at your fingertips for quick and delicious meals like the Avocado Egg Salad and Cobb Salad with REAL Green Goddess Dressing.
We guarantee that planning and preparation will help you avoid that stressful 5 o'clock thought of “What in the world are we going to do for dinner?” If you take these steps, we are confident it can lead you towards your goal of eating healthy for life!
Download our meal planning calendar -- print it weekly or laminate and turn it into a dry erase calendar!
Please share with us -- what other ideas do you use to plan or prep for your week?
We love to hear new ideas!