What do I need to know about meal planning?
- Meal planning varies for each person based on an individual’s time, preferences, and access to equipment. There is no perfect way to meal plan! Don’t let anyone tell you different!
- You do not need to prep every single meal, 3 meals a day/7 days a week. If lunch is typically where you struggle, then just start there!
- The purpose of meal planning is that with a little extra effort you can have more nutritious foods more convenient to you throughout the week without having to think too much.
- Preparing meals at home gives you more control over what you are eating. You can make balance, portions, and good nutrition a priority.
- Don’t think big, think small. If all you can get done in 5 minutes is chopping some of the veggies to come back to later, or marinating some chicken. Do that! Not everything has to be done all at once.
- Prepare the night before (smoothies, overnight oats, and dinner leftovers)
- Thinking for the week ahead (hard boiled eggs, egg quiche/frittata, and nutrient dense muffins)
- Grab & go options (banana & peanut butter, cheese & fruit, and nuts & yogurt)
Lunch & Dinner
- Pre-chop veggies or fruit to throw into a meal or eat on the go.
- Prepare protein, grain, and veggie options. Then mix and match throughout the week.
- Cook extra and plan for leftovers to be used for tomorrow’s lunch.
- Take advantage of convenience with canned, frozen foods, ready heat rice, etc.
- Take one day to plan and shop, cook the food the next day, and freeze/refrigerate meals to be reheated as needed throughout the week.
A balanced meal or snack includes at least 2-3 of the below food groups:
- Meat and vegetarian proteins (legumes, turkey, tofu, edamame, chicken)
- Fruit (banana, berries, oranges)
- Vegetable (broccoli, tomato, mixed veggies)
- Whole grain or starchy vegetable (quinoa, whole grain bread, oatmeal)
- Healthy unsaturated fat (olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, salmon)
- Dairy (Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs)