Meal planning can be stressful, but it doesn't have to be with these principles
In this article you will learn:
How to meal plan effectively (and healthfully) without stress
The top strategies that I've used and recommended to others to leverage meal planning successfully for a high-performance life
Where you can get support for your own goals
Lazy Reader's Section:
If you need help incorporating healthful eating principles into your routine and aren't sure where to start, grab yourself a copy of my book and a 30 minute chat with me and let's make a plan to crush your goals.
This is a simple article on how to use a few guiding principles to help you plan and organize your meals. It is not an absolute guide, but just a few powerful principles that will give you both structure and freedom. Use them with diligent practice alongside good nutrition to streamline your routine, reprogram your cravings and transform your relationship to food.
Principle #1: Standardize One Meal
Pick one meal that you are fine having the same most of the time (5 out of 7 days at least) and standardize it. At most have only two options for this meal and make it simple and easy. An example is having fruit and nut butter for breakfast. You can rotate the fruit and type of nut butter (almond, pecan, walnut, etc.), but the orientation is relatively the same.
Principle #2: Get Excited About One Meal
Pick one meal where you want variety and options, then create 3-4 options for that mealtime and plan out the ingredients that you will need on a regular basis. They can be pre-made meals, just make healthy choices :)
Principle #3: Have a Daily Healthy Shake
Have a healthy shake once per day. Liquid nutrition is convenient, easy to plan and a great way to get lots of vitamins and nutrients into your body. For this there are 7 essential steps to crafting your perfect shake:
Obtain a large Ninja or Vitamix blender or equivalent with a ~1500mL container
Pick a base of nutrient dense vegetables and fruit to put about 3 cups worth
Fill the blender with ~1200mL of water or almond/rice/oat milk (no dairy or gluten)
Pick a healthy source of fat to add like MCT oil or avocados
Decide on your source of protein (grass fed whey or collagen, organic rice or pea protein) and put about 70-90 grams worth of protein into the entire blender
Decide on additional nutrition (spirulina, cinnamon, ginger, maca, cocoa, turmeric, antioxidant fruit and veggie powders, etc.)
Mix all the ingredients. This should make approximately 2000-2500mL worth of shakes. Be prepared to transfer the ingredients into 4-5 blender bottles (500mL each) and have shakes sealed off
Principle #4: Find Healthy Snacks
Make a list of healthy snack possibilities in case of snacking. If you are eating plenty of fat and protein, snacking shouldn’t be an issue – but it’s always good to have options. If you are currently snacking, refer to the last principle on substitutions. Examples of healthy snacks include good fats and clean protein like avocados, raw sprouted nuts, grass fed jerky, high quality dark chocolate or organic toasted coconut.
Principle #5: Create Your Dietary “Solar System”
Make a list of foods you always want to have in the house (protein, fat sources, carb sources) for either snacking or as basic ingredients to the things you prepare. Examples include avocados, almond milk, beans, yams or green onions. These are all foods that you eat on a regular basis and that have multiple uses, can be easily made into meals or be adapted to a variety of options whether breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Principle #6: Make Substitutions
Make a list of current “fun” foods and find substitutions. Example would be eating Cheetos for a snack and changing it out for an avocado with sea salt and lemon. Use the space below to reflect on your options, and consider also the previous things you wrote down and if anything needs to be substituted.
Now it's time to take action. One thing that I teach is to balance your desire to control (meal planning is essentially a controlling behavior) with spontaneity and intuition. It's good to incorporate both for dynamic balance, rather than finding yourself too much on one side or the other. If you need help with this, don't be afraid to reach out.