Are you planning your meals? If you are, then Keep Going!
But if you wander into your kitchen and decide what to have only when you get there, you're less likely to make a good choice. Or, worse yet, if you’re driving home from a long day, feeling hungry and you choose your next meal based on what drive-through option is nearest, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
If you want to set yourself up for making better food choices, make those choices before you get hungry or tired. You need a plan.
Meal planning can take time and effort. Planning doesn't take as much time as you think. Nor will it take as much time as losing the weight that poor choices will pile on. Meal planning will save you time from wandering around your kitchen opening one door after another to see if there’s any food that interests you or that sounds good to eat. Planning what you’ll eat will also save you money and simplify your week.
To start meal planning in one small step, take five to ten minutes to list your next 3 dinners, your next 3 breakfasts, or your next 3 meals.
what vegetable and fruits you’ll choose;
what protein you’ll add; and
what carbohydrates/starches you’ll have.
You could start with lunches during the work week. I'd suggest starting with one meal (or snack) that can make the biggest difference for you. It could be dinners. Dinners can become lunches the next day and dinner may thebe time that your family is in one location at the same time. Breakfasts could be a challenge your you. It might be hard to get the right mix to fuel your day as you rush out the door in the morning for work. Start there. Don't forget your snacks. If you plan your snacks, you're more likely to eat healthier and cheaper and end up with more energy.
You could record your meal or snack list on an index card, on your calendar, or a note on the refrigerator.
Check your schedule to make sure that what you’ve listed works for you and your time commitments. This is meal planning on a small scale.
If you’re interested in meal planning as a permanent strategy to making healthier choices easier - keep it simple and easy to do every week.
Keep it simple. Try using the old-fashioned application of pen to paper. I've tried several apps and software programs over the years, and it took too much time to set up, there was always something I wanted to do differently, and eventually, there was a hitch in seeing my plan or creating my shopping list. If you're already using an app or software and it's working for you, keep going and let me know what you're using. If you aren't meal planning now, start with paper.
Are there any days you'll be later than usual? Make those slow cooker days or your favorite throw-it-together meals. Pull out your appliances that help make cooking easier and faster, especially the ones you don't have to watch (slow cooker, pressure cookers, rice cookers, George Foreman grills, and your microwave). Even the cook and hold feature on your oven can allow you the freedom to do other things while dinner is cooking.
If you collect recipes, try a new one and see if it's a keeper or not, but assign it for a day you're not rushed. Need help organizing your recipes? Check out [Appendix] Organize Your Recipes (As-Is) and use them today instead of waiting for 'someday' to organize your recipes perfectly.
Make a shopping list of all the meal ingredients you don't have on hand. This is the place I've found high-tech useful if it's kept simple, but paper and pencil work just fine. Just remember to put the list where you'll find it when you go shopping. If nothing else, take a picture of it on your cell phone so you have a backup list if needed.
Sometimes before you’re able to make a behavior a habit, you need to establish your WHY. Why do you want to plan your meals? Forget that you think you should and focus on what’s in it for you. What’s the payoff for this commitment?
Is it to manage your time better? What will you do with that extra time? Will you take time for yourself, organize your closet, read a book, build your business, or simply enjoy time with your family?
What You Need to Know about Willpower: The Psychological Science of Self-Control by American Psychological Association
19 Reasons Why Willpower Fails You, And What To Do About It, Forbes.com