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Meal planning tips?


chemgeek

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So, basically, I eat better than most people (my dual weaknesses are cinnamon buns and chocolate but aside from that - no pop, no juice, no chips, virtually no alcohol*, very little candy, try to keep portions reasonable, etc), but I know I've got lots of room for improvement. Two things I really need to improve on are veg intake (I usually sit around 3-4 servings/day instead of 5-6) and this tendency of mine to forget to eat until I'm starving and then reach for something quick and easy (read: starchy and full of empty calories) when I realize how hungry I am. Since I'm nearing 30 and still can't really realize when I'm getting hungry - I don't think better body awareness is the answer. I've heard good things about meal planning from folks who also have this issue - recommendations on how to get started?

 

*I might have 1-2 drinks once a month, if that

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I found feeling hungry is quite difficult for me as well. A lot of times, I just eat *because it is food time* or beacuse of all those damn emotions.

 

Make sure you drink a lot of water, I have been recommended, too glasses to start your day, and one at or after every meal.

 

As for planning, I've found that rotating a few favourites helps. I have three breakfast option, two lunch and for dinner I might want experiment. I also do batch cooking, so I can freeze stuff for when I don't feel like cooking.

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I can throw some advice into the ring here. :beaten:

 

I used to work until 7pm every (work) day so I had to prep food so that I could come home, throw something on and eat asap. There's a couple of things I'd suggest, first is to batch cook.  Take one day and cook a big batch of something that you like, portion it out into takeaway containers (coz they're cheap!) and (most importantly) write on the lid what's inside and any cooking/prep instructions.  For instance there might be something that you wanted to add just before serving (cream, fresh herbs) that wouldn't freeze so well, or it might be instructions on what to serve with it.  You can batch cook loads of meals, spag bol, curry, casseroles, soups etc.

 

The second thing is to batch cook an ingredient.  You can buy a big pack of chicken breast or minced beef, chop it up, cook it then portion it out to freeze then you can throw together a freshly cooked meal even when the fridge is bare.  You just need to throw your tub in the micro for 5 mins then add it to whatever you're cooking* and you've cut the cooking time in half.  You can even just buy frozen, cooked chicken or mince and do the same thing, which is even cheaper!  You can even freeze mashed potato or backed potato so that you have a quick and easy side dish. 

 

*My next tip is to keep things in stock that will help you "throw something together". I always keep packets of fajita seasoning, spice mixes for chilli con carne, passata or even a jar of bolognaise sauce, some Nando's sauces for the chicken (yum!), and a range of frozen vegetables.  I even buy frozen chopped onions, peppers, mushrooms etc so that I always have them to hand (and don't have to bother chopping them!).  I also love microwave rice.  You can get whole grain or even brown rice, it cooks in just two minutes and you can get loads of different "flavours".  I personally like the Mexican rice, the coconut rice, and the lime and coriander (cilantro) rice.  I have thrown loads of meals together based around frozen pre-cooked chicken and a flavoured rice with some nice sauce. :)  

 

My fourth tip is to draw up a menu for the whole week and to literally get everything you need for each meal ready.  Portion out any meat, chop your veg, pick your side and sauce, and put your raw ingredients together in a tub with the day of the week written on it along with any instructions.  That way you just have to take out your tub and start cooking straight away, no faffing around deciding what to cook, trying to work out what's in the fridge/cupboard.  

 

My fifth tip is to buy/borrow/beg/steal a slow cooker.  They are awesome!  You simply put your ingredients into it in the morning and come dinner time it's ready and waiting for you.  My slow cooker is my best friend.  

 

I hope some of that is helpful. :) 

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Here's some advice, pack your fridge with containers of fruits and precooked veggies, low calorie but high protein shakes that are meal replacements, instead of buying chips , buy some of those low calorie crackers, so when you do get hungry, the only fast and easy thing to eat is healthy , settle your stomach and then cook yourself something healthy, hopes this helps :)

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On 3/28/2017 at 6:15 PM, Guzzi said:

My fourth tip is to draw up a menu for the whole week and to literally get everything you need for each meal ready.

 

This might be the most important step you can take with the biggest return on investment. Before going for your weekly (or even monthly) grocery shopping, take a few minutes to plan out all your meals for the next week, including potential snacks. You're not hungry, willpower-depleted, or emotionally-attached to the food yet because it's not there, so you'll be able to pick good choices. Then you can just track whether you followed your menu or not. Tip: Rotating through the same meals, or eating the same things on different days (e.g. Taco Tuesday) is underrated; it frees up a lot of willpower.

 

Also, try to keep some contingency meals--things that are not exactly ideal but not that naughty either, with a longer shelf-life and easy to prepare. Protein bars, canned tuna, frozen meals, etc. It's good to cover your ass on case things don't work out. Two is one, one is none.

 

I wrote a blog post about this, actually: Cost Analysis of Eating Healthy.

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It depends on how far you want to go with your meal planning. You can use a personalized meal planning service with an assigned coach like this

or you could stock your fridge up with veggies, chicken, and other good foods like eggs that you can cook in less than 5 minutes. If you don't mind eating the same thing everyday, you could always shoot for meal prepping for the entire week. A lot of people I know does that.

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