Can a meal plan really boost your health and fitness — and that of everyone else in your crew? Definitely!
By leaning on your bullet journal or planner pages for menu planning, you’ll ever again neglect to set workout times or calendar out healthy meals. Benjamin Franklin said it best when he said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Ben probably wasn’t thinking about “meal prep” when he said it, but it’s a good blanket statement about many things in our lives. By failing to properly prepare when beginning a fitness program, you’re almost ensuring failure.
(If you haven’t set your overall health and fitness goals, take a look at my Bullet Journal for Weight Loss and Getting Fit post.)
It becomes overwhelming to think about balanced meals – the shopping and cooking involved on a day to day basis prevents many with good intentions from following through with their plans.
The kitchen is your main place to begin a diet plan to help you become fit and enjoy health throughout the years. In the kitchen, you can control portions for days or weeks to come and prepare foods to help you lose fat and build muscle.
The more you plan your meals and snacks ahead, the better results you’ll get from your fitness and health plan. Without pre-planning, you may skip essential meals to keep you energetic and focused.
You may also tend to crave foods you shouldn’t have. Fewer food choices mean that you’ll eat healthier and be more satisfied during the day time hours because you planned ahead to ensure you’re receiving the proper nutrition and enough fuel to keep your body and mind working at full blast.
Splurging on unhealthy foods such as fast food drive through options is one reason people become overweight and develop health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.
When you control your eating environment and routine, you’ll still be eating without having to think about it – but you’ll be eating much healthier foods. Planning for a carb, a protein and fat for each meal is a good way to help transition your body from flabby to fit.
Plan your meals and snacks carefully by sitting down each week and jotting down ingredients for recipes and items you’ll need at the grocery store. Then, set aside time to cook and prepare for the meals.
(If you’re new to the whole meal planning concept, take a look at my How to Meal Plan & Prep for Beginners post.)
After the food is cooked (or prepared to cook), divide it into portions that fit your diet and health routine. Knowing what you’ll be consuming on a day to day basis means that you don’t have to concentrate each day on what you’ll need to shop for and prepare.
Not only will you save time and cut calories – you’ll also save money because you’re not “impulse” eating. Impulse eating can lead to bad habits that are difficult to break and that will set you up for diet and fitness failure.
Meal Plan to Lose Weight with Calorie Counting
It’s much easier to watch your calories when you plan and prepare your meals ahead of serving day. You’ll also eat healthier because you don’t have to think of something to serve at the last minute and be tempted to go through the drive through or eat out.
Besides saving on calories, you’ll also save on stress and convenience. Meal prepping also helps you count calories by providing you with pre-planned portions. There’s no more guessing when you know exactly how many calories are contained in the meals you’ve prepared ahead of time and divided into portions.
You can find many help sites online for calorie counting. There are sites with food calorie calculators, meal plans that concentrate on calorie counting and online guides for food to help you every step of the way.
Meal prepping gives you ultimate control over your diet and takes the guesswork out of what you’re going to eat – and how much. You’ll also be amazed at how little food you waste by pre-planning your meals.
You’ll learn how to incorporate leftover items into other recipes to help stretch the budget even more. Even your snack calories can be lowered with thoughtful meal planning.
Rather than hit the vending machines or fast food when you’re hungry in the middle of the afternoon, keep some healthy and low-cal snacks on hand. Snacks can be highly detrimental to any diet plan, so it’s best to plan ahead for those sudden cravings.
The Internet has made it even easier to count calories and figure out portions and meal plans. You can even find shopping list generators and meal planning systems which not only help you create a low-cal meal plan, but also let you print out a grocery list generated by the plan.
These meal prep websites have become sophisticated and better able to save you time and effort on deciding which meals you want to prepare, how and what you shop for and count the calories for portion sizes. Taking advantage of these online tools can save you a lot of time and effort.
Become familiar with low-calorie food items and try to incorporate them in your meal planning. Whether you’re prepping one meal a day for a few days or a month’s worth of meals, you can provide better nutrition and tastier dishes by including low-calorie items in your recipes.
Counting calories can be time-consuming and intimidating. Meal prepping can take some of the angst out of thinking of and preparing meals for your family. After you’ve tried it a few times, you’ll wonder why you haven’t done it before.
For some of us, the very thought of going to the grocery puts us in a state of dread and frustration. It’s difficult to take time out of a busy day (or evening) to wander through the aisles trying to follow a list – or worse, not having a list and trying to remember what you need off the top of your head.
If grocery shopping simply takes up too much of your precious time or puts you in a state of panic, you may want to consider the many pop-up services that provide everything you need from a list or from a recipe that you choose.
It’s delivered right to your door – exact ingredients, fresh and ready to prepare. Delivery does have its advantages – but so does the experience of shopping yourself for the best bargains and freshest foods available.
You may want to do both. During busy weeks or months where grocery shopping ruins your day or is frustrating beyond measure, take a few minutes to order what you need online.
You’ll save a ton of time and effort – and your groceries will be waiting for you when you return home. There are so many choices for the types of delivery meals (vegetarian, meat-lovers, dieters and more) that you may have trouble choosing which is best for you.
A quick surf through “meal delivery” sites will alert you to how many of these services there are and the various plans available to fit your every need and want. Some deliver the ingredients for a certain meal while others deliver the entire meal, already cooked and ready to serve for a chosen amount of diners.
The DIY option for meal prepping is one you’ll want to consider if you do have the time (and fortitude) to grocery shop for the ingredients and items you’ll need to prepare meals ahead of time – and the time to prepare them.
You may want to take the time to use sites such as “Menu Planner” to create a directory of recipes you love (or use recipes from favorite sites). Then, the app will create a grocery list that you can print out or take with you on your iPad or phone.
After you set it up, the ease of use is amazing and fast. Let your lifestyle dictate whether you meal prep the DIY way or have the ingredients (or meals) delivered. You may want to try each type of meal planning and prep just to see what best works for you.