Creating a meal plan is one of the most effective ways of improving your health.
This article will help explain why meal planning is so important, how simple it can be and basic tips for developing nutritious, balanced meals.
Meal decisions may be based on a number of factors such as foods leftover in the fridge, the closest and quickest restaurant, or whatever your body is craving at that moment. This can lead to poor food choices throughout the day.
Adding thoughtful meal planning into your lifestyle will establish a habit of eating a nourishing, well-balanced, and delicious diet full of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat dairy, healthy fats, and lean protein.
It's very easy to create a weekly meal plan. It just takes a little thought and preparation.
First, make a weekly calendar, Sunday through Saturday, with spaces to write in breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for each day. Now you have the canvas to create your meal planning masterpiece!
Looking down the "breakfast" row for each day of the week, try to pick meals that are loaded with protein and fiber. This type of meal will keep you full for the day ahead. Good examples include mixed vegetable omelet, ShopRite low-fat Greek yogurt topped with ShopRite Fiber Twigs cereal, or ShopRite Organic Steel-Cut oatmeal with berries and walnuts.
Next, look down your "lunch" row for each day of the week. Lunch is the perfect opportunity to eat a large salad loaded with nutrients. A salad does not just have to be lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes, but can be something exciting and flavorful. The key here is to aim for a vegetable-based lunch. Add avocado and raw, unsalted nuts and seeds for healthy, satisfying fats. Then add a protein such as eggs, beans, quinoa, tuna, salmon, or chicken.
For extra flavor, try adding garlic, a squeeze of fresh lemon, or dried/fresh fruit. Avoid high fat additions such as croutons, bacon bits or excessive amounts of salad dressing.
A well-balanced salad can stabilize blood sugar fluctuations and keep you feeling energized during the mid-day hustle and bustle.
Dinner is usually the most varied meal of the day.
Even if you eat out at restaurants, you can still follow your meal plan. For instance, if you usually eat one dinner out per week, assign this day on your weekly plan.
This tactic gives you the flexibility to enjoy local restaurants' delicious offerings, but limits the amount of times eating out each week.
Planning dinner at home is as simple as following the "plate method." Basically, make half of your plate vegetables, a quarter of your plate protein, and a quarter of your plate starch. Examples of dinners following this method include 4 ounces of grilled salmon with 1/2 cup wild rice and unlimited amounts of steamed broccoli or 3 ounce of chicken breast with 1 medium baked sweet potato and unlimited amounts of roasted asparagus.
You get the idea: Proteins and starches are limited while non-starchy vegetables are unlimited.
Creating the appropriate proportions of food will help you to feel satisfied and provide a nutrient-dense meal.The "snack" row should be filled in after all of your meals are assigned.
First, decide how many snacks you will be allotted each day. Consider adding in an extra snack on days of the week with planned exercise. A snack should be less than 200 calories. Examples include ShopRite Organic Natural microwave popcorn, ShopRite Original Hummus with raw veggies, cottage cheese with fruit or even dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa.
Stick to the snacks assigned to your meal plan and cut off snacking in the evening at least two hours before bedtime.
Before you go ahead and create your own meal plan, please follow some of my final recommendations.
Remember, each day in the meal plan does not have to look different. Leftovers from Monday's dinner can be used for Tuesday's lunch. Or, you can make a big batch of salad and serve it up all week long.
Try sticking to the meal plan for a few weeks at a time, but feel free to edit the meals and snacks on a monthly basis. Food choices for meals can be made on seasonality of produce or sale items in the store.
A good way to stick to the meal plan is to translate the meals into a weekly grocery shopping list. Pick one day to do the shopping so that you have all of the necessary foods on hand and in stock for the week ahead. Lastly, if you experience difficulty putting together the meal plan or just need help coming up with simple recipes, please call and schedule your free, nutrition counseling appointment today at .
Call 410-560-7071 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started. You can also visit ShopRite.com, click on "online services" then "recipe center" to find the perfect recipes to fit your plan and lifestyle.