Healthy meal planning is the key to eating healthy when life gets busy. The more prepared you are, the easier it is to stay on track and hit your goals. I meal prep everything from breakfast to dinner and even the snacks in between.
Letting yourself get too hungry between meals and having nothing prepared leads to take-out food on the regular, and less-than-healthy frozen or processed junk.
So to help you switch up your bad eating habits and set yourself up for success, this post is all about my top tips for healthy meal planning.
Healthy Meal Planning 101
1. Save time
If you think healthy meal planning is labor intensive or time consuming, you’re probably over-complicating it. Start by picking two breakfast recipes and four to five lunch or dinner recipes then block out 2-3 hours each week to prep. You only really need to prepare meals for the days that you’re away from home or too busy to cook. Keep things simple by choosing easy to follow recipes, one-pot meals, or meals with less than 10 ingredients. Reserve fancy or complicated meals for the weekend.
2. Use variety
I recommend choosing 1-2 foundational foods to focus on when you’re doing your healthy meal planning. Then use that same food in a variety of different ways. For example, when I cook up a bunch of chicken for the week, I add it to salads, stews and wraps. Eating the same food in the same recipe every day gets boring. If you do it, you’ll likely give up on healthy meal planning altogether.
3. Add fresh veggies
If your meals are sitting in the fridge too long, they can start to lose their appeal. Veggies will start to look old and lose their crisp texture. Keep your fruits and vegetables fresh, and prepare them the night before or morning of. That doesn’t mean you can’t prep a salad in advance, but it could just mean adding more toppings to it later.
4. Plan for snacks
Snacks are usually where most of us make our bad choices. We’re too hungry before dinner, so we grab a chocolate bar at the grocery store, or chips from a vending machine. So when you do your healthy meal planning, include snacks! Healthy snacks can be as simple as an orange or an apple, with a palmful of almonds requiring no prep whatsoever. Or if you’re feeling more creative, you could make healthy treats like protein bites, or granola bars. I like to use snacking as a way to get more vegetables into my day, so I’ll slice up celery and carrots and keep them in water in the fridge so they stay fresh.
5. Keep your food fresh
If you’re making 5-7 days worth of meals, keep some in the fridge, and some in the freezer. This will prevent them from losing their freshness and keep them tasting good. Choosing some recipes that freeze well, such as stews, soups or chilis are a really good option for this. Alternatively, you could break your meal prep time into two days, and prep three days worth of meals each time.
Love your #innerbabe
Healthy meal planning is great for preventing guilty temptations for junk food. It helps you build a healthy eating routine, which often goes hand in hand with sticking to your workouts. The healthier you eat on a regular basis, the more energized you’ll feel to start checking off your goals.
Don’t forget to pack a reusable water bottle with you when you’re on the go. Sometimes when you think you’re hungry it can actually just be a sign of thirst. Keep hydrated with plenty of water to prevent overeating and flush out toxins naturally.
If you need some food inspiration, head over to our inner babe community on Facebook.
What are your tips for healthy meal planning? Tell us in the comments below.