When working with women who want to eat better, one of the least popular recommendations that I make is creating a meal plan. When I suggest creating a meal plan, I’m usually met with a response along the lines of:
“I’m already crazy-busy. How am I supposed to add one more thing to my life?!”
I understand this knee-jerk resistance. At first it does seem like making a meal plan is adding more to your already overly full schedule. But, in reality it actually saves time and stress. I grew up watching ‘80s cartoons. One show had a saying that they’d repeat:
“Knowing is half the battle”
This phrase is true when it comes to meal planning. While it does take time to sit down and create a meal plan, doing so will save you hours of stressful time each week. From your meal plan you can prepare a grocery list. Think about how much more time you have if you’re only going to the grocery store once or twice a week (I’ve had lots of clients tell me they end up grocery shopping every day because they don’t have a plan). Think of how much time you’ll save if you have what you need in the fridge to turn tonight’s leftovers into tomorrow’s dinner. You could even do Thursday’s lunch and dinner meal prep on Wednesday while you’re in the kitchen waiting for dinner to cook. Efficiency – what?!
Having a meal plan will also save you money and stress. Imagine no more: • Last-minute trips to the grocery store when you’re hungry. • Staring blankly into your fridge. • Garbage bins full of veggies, bought with the best of intentions, but now gone bad.
While the knee-jerk resistance to meal planning is the time it takes, I suspect that there’s a deeper source to the resistance. For many of us, the only experience that we’ve had with meal plans is when on strict diets. We subconsciously associate meal planning with deprivation, forced structure, and failure. No wonder we don’t want to meal plan. Take a moment to check in with yourself. Does the structure of a meal plan make you feel constrained? If so, let’s take this opportunity to re-frame meal plans. It’s your life. It’s your meal plan. Plan what you want to eat. This is a tool to serve you – not the other way around.
Lastly, and very importantly, it’s your plan – change it whenever you want! Did you plan to make a complicated, new recipe tonight but you had an awful day and all you want to do is order pizza? Order the pizza! Savour the pizza! And, revise your plan so that the ingredients that you bought for that new dish are used up before they go bad.
Not convinced? Give it a try, just for this month. It’s only 4 weeks. Summer is fleeting. If meal planning can save you time, this is the perfect month to try it!
*A Nutrition Game Changer (NGC) is a food or habit that has made a big impact on the nutritional health of clients I’ve worked with. And, in my life too. Some may call these nutrition hacks. But I'm not a fan of that phrase. I share one NGC each month.