Struggling to figure out what is on the menu for a meal leads many to opt for eating out or taking out. Doing so can really challenge a person’s commitment to eat better, cleaner, and healthier. Preplanning meals sounds mundane, but it is the key to eating food that nourishes, staying on a budget, and preventing boredom when trying to eat clean.
Here are some meal planning and preparation tips:
- Prep the meal you find the most difficult. If you plan and prep breakfast and lunch with more ease, but everything falls apart when it comes to dinner, prep dinner.
- Can’t prep a whole week….don’t worry about it. Prep something.
- Keep it simple. Create a place to keep recipes so you have ideas to put into the rotation.
- Batch cook as suggested in this article or make in advance (e.g., hard boiled eggs), freeze items (e.g., frozen Coffee fig smoothie) or suggested alternates to high calorie (and expensive) protein bars (e.g., protein-rich energy balls) as suggested in this article.
- Mix it up. Set aside one day in the week to cook something spontaneously.
- Ask your loved ones what they like to eat. Use these ideas for inspiration and to engage everyone in clean eating.
- Make meal prep part of your routine for at least one month. It takes time to build a new skill.
- Practice a core set of recipes until you have them down. Efficiency in cooking comes with practice.
- Use lots of herbs and spices for flavor. Don’t eat the same unseasoned boring chicken breast over and over again. There is no rule that clean food needs to be tasteless.
- Plan your grocery list and stick to it! This helps you eat better and keep costs down.
- Set an appointment to shop so this does not get lost in the myriad of other commitments.
- Shopping at a store is great, but if you are too tempted by every display or endcap, shop online!
Need a bit more help? You can join a meal planning service; yes, there is an app for that! These vary in cost, around $5 per month. Some let you use your own recipes and others do all of the recipes for you.
Ready to test out meal planning for cleaner eating? Join us for the next nutrition challenge with a focus on clean eating beginning February 6!
Happy and healthful eating,
Donna G. Pertel, MEd, RD, LDN
Questions about the upcoming nutrition challenge beginning February 6? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.