The Art of Meal Planning

I have found that planning is the key to success, and failing to plan is the key to failure. Meal planning is one of the key steps to a successful transition to your best health. The purpose of the meal plan is for organization, shopping ease, and for accountability.


Meal plans help you to organize your meals for the week. You can even put a shopping list on the back so you know exactly what foods you need to buy that week, which makes shopping a breeze. By creating this global picture, you can better balance your meals to make sure you are getting plenty of  nutrition-dense foods without depriving yourself too much. (Making sure to add in the side dishes and occasional desserts.) You are held accountable for what you eat, making you less likely to get off track and sabotage your health.

Here are some steps and strategies to help you in creating your meal plans and preparing your meals:

  1. Organize your meals for the week. Choose a variety of foods, making sure that they are starch-based and that some of the weekly foods are rich enough to prevent a sense of deprivation. Remember that you CANNOT live off of vegetables for ALL meals ALL week long. You MUST include starches (root vegetables, whole grains, and legumes) and/or fruits with most, if not every, meal.
  2. Develop a shopping list for the week based on the meal calendar you created. This will make shopping easier because you can get it all done in one shot. Also, this helps with good preparation because you will know in advance that you have the ingredients at home ready for you to make your meals. You can even save your weekly meal plans so that over time you accumulate different weeks worth of meals and the corresponding shopping lists! After the first 4-6 weeks you can start rotating through the old ones rather than having to come up with new ones.
  3. You can decide to cook all your meals on one day, (maybe a weekend day) and then freeze them (this is an especially good idea for people who know they will be busy during the week), or choose a few days during the week to make your meals.
  4. You can make extra for dinner and then have leftovers for lunch.
  5. You can partner with a friend to develop a meal plan and then break up the cooking responsibilities. Another option is to make one person “the shopper” and another “the cook” for the week and then switch roles. There are many options, so choose the one that works best for you.
  6. Make sure to include any plans for dining out (if you know where you are going and what you will be having you can write that in, otherwise fill it in after the meal).

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Featured Img courtesy of, Resources: Keep It Simple, Keep It Whole by Alona Pulde, MD and Matthew Lederman, MD

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