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To Meal Plan or Not to Meal Plan

Posted Nov 14 2012 5:00am
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In a perfect world, I would have all my meals for the week written out neatly on cute stationary, complete with a grocery list and recipes.

Ha. So true.

In the real world, I have random notes in my phone of items I can’t forget to pick up at the store along with meals I want to make and illegible scribbles on the back of my nutrition assessments for patients at work of new recipes that catch my eye in the blogosphere.

Meal planning, or just flat out planning ahead, does save SO much time.  I could either spend a good amount of my Sunday afternoon making big batches of food for the week ahead, or spend even more time thinking about what I want, making it, and putting it away each night.  That is most definitely not what I want to do when I get done with a combination of work, babysitting, and working out.  I want to come home with a fridge full of options so I’m not stressed about the impending large amount of time I’ll spend on dinner that night.  Also, planning ahead means lunches are thoughtless in the morning.  Putting leftovers in a tupperware is much easier, healthier and cheaper than buying lunch or packing something unhealthy but convenient in a pinch.

This weekend at Trader Joe’s I made sure to stock up on frozen fruits and vegetables so I never have an excuse for not having them on my plate at dinner time.  Frozen vegetables last quite a long time, so I highly recommend investing in a variety.  Also, frozen sliced peppers are awesome in chilis and soup and WAY cheaper/less prep than buying fresh peppers at the store. I also love adding frozen berries to pancakes, muffins, smoothies, etc.  For this week, I stocked up on:

  • apples
  • bananas
  • tomatoes
  • frozen raspberries
  • frozen blueberries
  • frozen sliced bell peppers
  • frozen broccoli
  • frozen french green beans
  • frozen brussels sprouts
  • frozen roasted corn
  • mixed greens and romaine
  • sweet potatoes
  • cucumbers

I also stocked up on some protein staples to incorporate throughout the week:

  • tofu
  • tempeh
  • black beans
  • canned wild salmon
  • frozen wild salmon fillets from Target (my new obsession)
Random extras:
  • dried cranberries
  • hummus
  • 100% whole grain rye crackers
  • almond milk
  • quinoa
I basically add at least one of those frozen veggies to my plate at dinnertime.  Last night was green beans with spicy sweet tater fries .
This week’s breakfasts will be:
  • leftover whole-wheat banana berry pancakes
  • regular oats with raspberries, flax and peanut butter
This week’s lunch/dinners will be:
  • leftover broccoli soup (recipe to come)
  • field green salads with sauteed tempeh/tofu + cranberries + avocado + goat cheese
  • sweet potato and black bean quesadillas  with avocado
  • baked salmon with veggies and brown rice
This week’s snacks will be:
  • apples
  • hummus with rye crackers/celery/carrots
  • hard boiled eggs

In a perfect world, I would be more organized and write this down every.single.week.  In the crazy world in which I live, that is just not the case.  I prepare meals pretty randomly and whenever I get the itch to try something new, that’s what I do.  My meals don’t vary too much throughout the week, but I usually end up trying at least one new recipe to add to the rotation.

Breakfast staples will always be oatmeal or pancakes or some variation of that.  Lunch is usually leftovers of whatever was for dinner last night, or even an Amy’s burrito or Luna burger in a pinch.  Dinner is salmon and veggies if I was prepared enough to let it thaw the day before, some kind of soup of chili that I made earlier in the week, a homemade bean burger, or some other random recipe that I was excited to try.

The bottom line is that being healthy is all about being prepared.  That said, no one’s perfect!

So how do you feel about meal planning? Is it successful for you? I’d love to know!

P.S. It’s World Diabetes Day! Check out this article for a few delish snack ideas from SELF!

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