Flexible Meal Planning
1. Check your current stock and take inventory. Hate wasting food? Me too! Is your freezer is over flowing from all the ‘deals’ so much you forget what’s in there? See what you have, what you can/need to use before buying double or having to throw away. You’ll be amazed at how just this simple step can immediately cut your weekly grocery bill.
2. Start with a protein. What sounds good? What’s on sale? What do you have time to prepare this week? For example, is it likely you will grill out or is it a crock pot meal kind of week?
3. What sounds good? Wait what? Let’s go back to that question for a minute. We so often skip this key step and default to what we believe is ‘healthy’. Imagine if you actually planned out Taco Tuesday followed by your grandma’s recipe of homemade brownies for dessert. Imagine the pleasure and nourishment you would feel after eating a food you wanted vs what you think you’re ‘supposed to eat’. What about the peace you would feel knowing that there WILL be dessert? Maybe it’s cold so chili sounds comforting or a cobb salad on a warm summer night. Or maybe you just feel straight up lazy this week and want a PB&J for lunch every day. Do your shoulders feel lighter already?
4. Grocery shop with your list BUT be flexible. Ok so maybe you intended to do beef tacos, but chicken breast are on sale. Can you swap out the beef for shredded chicken instead? Maybe you were set on berries as your morning snack, but the selection is sucky…what other fruit can you swap out? This can help with your budget, but also start to help you practice the freedom that comes with flexibility in food choices.
5. Plan to prep based on your style. Do you feel better having everything ready for the week or do you enjoy some cooking? Maybe you can portion and prep breakfast and lunch, but plan to cook dinner at home. Maybe you cook your protein, chop your veggies, and clean your fruit so it’s ready for a quick assemble the night before. Don’t feel like you have to spend hours in the kitchen on Sunday – especially if you don’t have to! I’ve learned my weekends are precious, so I prefer to prep some things on Sunday, then make a dinner on Tuesday or Wednesday (my ‘free’ night) where I can make enough for leftovers to finish out the week.
6. Reevaluate each week. The beautiful thing about nutrition and the way we eat is that nothing is set in stone! I believe (and teach my clients) that everything can be an experiment. Play around with how much you prep, when you prep, and what. If something felt too chaotic or stressful, no big deal, try something new next week! The goal of meal prep should be to make you feel less stressed, therefore happier and healthier. If you find yourself feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or having anxiety about food choices, it’s time to reassess, and try again!
If you found this post helpful, let me know and reach out on social media @kthake . Also, be sure to check out our Fit Friends Happy Hour podcast episodes on meal prep.