Sunday, June 2, 2013

Meal Planning 101

Hello my lovelies!

I hope everyone's weekend was wonderful. Mine was filled with working (as always) and lots of planning. I have a lot on my plate at the moment (hehehe no pun intended)! Thankfully, one thing I have mastered the art of... is planning.

I've found that when it comes to calorie counting, if you are like me and prepare pretty much everything you eat from scratch, it's very tedious to count the calories and other nutrients as you go along. First you have to look up all the info for each ingredient, then calculate for each serving.. blah blah blah. To alleviate some of the tediousness and pain-in-the-buttness of that, I've decided to do what I did before when I lost a bunch of weight: meal planning.

Here's how it works:
  1. Either the day of your grocery day or the day before, plan what meals you're going to eat for the week. I eat the same meals each day for that week.
  2. Write/type out the nutrition info for all the meals you'll be eating that week to ensure you'll get all the nutrition you'll need.
That's basically it! This is a sample of my meal plan for this week.


Super organized, and it saves a ton of time throughout the week. If you're a very busy person like me, I find this to be the most efficient way to ensure you're getting all the proper nutrients. If you'd like to have more variety throughout the week, you can always do this spreadsheet with different meals and whatnot. In other words, make more than one spreadsheet per week. I find that one week isn't long enough for me to get bored with the meals, especially if they're super delicious, so I don't do that. Plus, that's more effort than I'm willing to put in. ;)

I also find that doing it this way helps when you're actually trying to figure out what to eat. You can keep track as you're going along to figure out where you're lacking and where you're overdoing it with various nutrients, and adjust as needed.

You can use regular Excel (or similar software) on your computer to make these spreadsheets, but I like to use Google Drive. It's convenient because you can access it from anywhere you have internet (or through your smartphone). Therefore, if your computer hard drive dies (like mine just did a few days ago), there are no worries of losing it! Not that it's really THAT important, but who wants to go through the hassle of redoing such things? Another nice feature of using Google Drive is that you can share it with other people. That way, you can kind of create a little community where you and your friends can put their meal plans and help each other out and/or support one another, etc. Pretty nifty, if you ask me!

Now that you have the tools to meal plan, there's the trouble of figuring out what to eat and where to start. What I like to do is start with the idea that each meal should have a source of protein (meat, fish, dairy, etc) and lots of fruits and veggies. Then kind of just add whatever sounds good. With my meal plan above, I started with the smoothie/juice recipe because a smoothie just sounded good. It doesn't have a LOT of protein, but the protein it does have is very good quality protein. (I do believe avocados contain a complete protein.) With the next meals, I started with the fish because I knew I needed more protein. I also have to make sure to leave enough room at the end of the day for a chocolate treat! I need my chocolate. <3 Just take it meal by meal! Remember: you can always adjust later, especially since you're doing this before you even get the groceries, and trust me, it gets a LOT easier the more you do it. Eventually, you kind of just know which foods will fill in the gaps, and you can whip up a meal plan in 15 minutes.

Another nice tool for finding foods to fill those nutrient gaps is http://nutritiondata.self.com/. If you make a free account with them, you can search their database for foods based on nutrient information. For example, if you're looking for foods high in.. potassium, you simply search for foods highest in potassium! It's a wonderful tool, and I use this site everytime I make a meal plan. I highly highly highly recommend it.

If you give meal planning a try, let me know how it works for you! Also, if you have any questions on how to make the spreadsheet or anything else about meal planning, don't hesistate to ask! :)