Meal planning sucks!

There, I said it…I feel better now that we’ve cleared the air!

Meal plans are ineffective, yet hands down, getting into the kitchen, meal planning, and food prep are unilaterally required for healthfulness. How can this be that meal planning is required and yet ineffective all at the same time?

It all boils down to sustainability. If you can’t implement a healthy action forever, there’s no use in starting it;  otherwise you meet with a cycle of frustration and ultimately failure when life gets in the way. And this is true of diets, exercise, meditation, and meal planning. Implementing effective and practical solutions are paramount to long term health.

The reality is that most of my clients do not have, nor want to take the time, for extensive meal planning that calls out each meal with detailed directions. (of course, that’s why I provide free, weekly meal idea templates!…are you registered?)

So the sooner we put together a sustainable solution to pesky meal planning, the better off you will be!

MEAL PLANS versus MEAL IDEAS 

Many of my clients struggle with their weekly meal planning. Here’s why:

  • Meal plans are boring!
  • Meal plans take time!
  • Meal plans don’t serve the whole family’s tastes and needs!
  • Meal plans are expensive!
  • Meal plans are lengthy and too specific!
  • Meal plans feel restrictive and controlling!
  • Meal plans are short term!
  • Meal plans don’t reflect real eating patterns or busy lifestyles!
  • Meal plans put a lot of pressure on Moms to “deliver the goods!”

Why in God’s name would anybody follow a detailed meal plan? I sure wouldn’t! (and of course if you still like the idea of a general meal plan template, you can certainly get on my list for weekly, plant-based meal ideas sent directly to your inbox each week).

Instead, it’s time to shift paradigms from traditional “Meal Plans,” to your getting on board with healthy “EATING RITUALS”….to include straightforward Meal Ideas that require no detailed or laborious recipe, such as the Meal Ideas shown above.

10 HEALTHY EATING RITUALS:

  1. Shopping (shopping services count!)
  2. Menu and meal planning
  3. Washing, chopping, and packaging vegetables to use and/or grab and go
  4. Cooking/preparing protein (e.g. roast a chicken or two on Sunday)
  5. Cooking meals in bulk (e.g. casseroles, soups, stews, chili)
  6. Cooking grains/beans in bulk to refrigerate or freeze for later in the week
  7. Sorting foods into smaller containers or baggies
  8. Cleaning out and organizing the fridge as needed (a quick weekend job)
  9. Planning healthy meals that someone else cooks (e.g. using a meal delivery service, deciding in advance what to order at a restaurant, etc.)
  10. Anticipating obstacles in the week and planning healthy strategies to navigate and circumvent.

Most of these are relatively straightforward, but we still haven’t addressed the “elephant in the room,” which is #2, planning those meals…the most challenging part of a healthy ritual.

Here’s how you work EASY meal planning…Just TWO STEPS!

STEP ONE: Put your healthy eating plan in writing

With just 4-5 weekly dinner ideas (like this one, from my free, weekly plant-based meal plan templates), and then a meal delivery app like Instacart, Amazon, or any online local delivery service, you have effectively prepped your week and even have your grocery list delivered to your door! By shopping online you can find store specials for an ingredient, stick to your list, and use the extra time to plan your menu, clean your kitchen, cook, and get organized for another week. A little experimentation shows it can save money because you are not adding “extras” from store aisle temptations!

STEP TWO: Use the 1-2-3-4 method of meal planning:

  1. Think flavor! Traditional meal planning oddly starts by choosing the meat to prepare. Instead, think FLAVOR! Plan meals around beans, greens, grains, and lean protein using FLAVOR as a focus, instead of meat as the centerpiece. Think about seasonal veggies and use them as the centerpiece for spicy, roasted, savory, sweet, or thick and hearty. Here are a few examples: spicy bean chili, roasted winter squash, creamy corn chowder, and thick lentil-vegetable soup. If you use meat or poultry or fish, use it in smaller amounts and as a flavoring agent.
  2. Include a fibery starch, like whole grains, beans, potatoes, yams, peas, or winter squash.
  3. Include a seasonal, non-starchy vegetable, like greens, tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli, peppers, etc…Salad counts!
  4. Add a healthy fat, such as low-fat dairy, coconut, avocado, or olive oil, nuts, or seeds

My Super Fast and Easy 5 Ingredient Meals use the 1-2-3-4 method, each one built upon fresh, flavor forward , plant-based ingredients!

The more you practice planning and preparing healthy food in advance, the better you become at doing so and the healthier you get!

~ Pacer Kristen

When you take time to implement a healthy eating ritual, cooking dinners is fast and easy, with no detailed Meal Plan required!