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The Basics of Meal Planning & Nutrition

By Terah Starbuck RD, LDN, CPT

Our dietitians spend a lot of time coaching clients toward successful meal planning. The most important part of setting goals is having a plan, and the majority of our clients’ goals are centered around nutritious meal planning. There are so many life events that can get in the way of meal planning, prepping, and cooking, but carving out the time will set you up for success in the long run. I often catch myself saying: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Although it may seem very intimidating at first, meal planning does not have to be complicated.


This blog post helps break down the process of developing a successful plan to take control of your nutrition. Read on to find out how to create a meal plan that works for you and your family!


Meal Planning with a Busy Schedule

The first step to take when developing a meal plan is to understand your schedule. Take a peek at your weekly calendar: Surely you have work commitments, social events, and maybe even kids’ extracurricular activities penciled in. But do you budget time for meal planning? What about actually cooking? The groceries will not buy themselves (or maybe they will if you use Instacart!) and the food will certainly not cook itself. So, pencil in time to shop and cook. Just that simple addition to your schedule can help you build a path to nutritional success.


Next, decide how many days during the week you are actually going to cook dinner. Then, consider if you would be able to eat some of those meals as leftovers and/or if you have dinner plans with friends, etc. That will lead you toward the total meals that you will need to prepare for

the week.


Finding the Right Recipes


When deciding which recipes to cook, I suggest following the acronym, KISS, which stands for Keep it Short and Simple. Select recipes that fit the mold of how much time you actually want to spend cooking, what your current comfort level is in the kitchen, and use familiar ingredients. Also, try to limit yourself to only one new recipe per week since they will often take longer to prepare and may not go as planned. Fill in the other “cook days” with recipes that you know off-hand.


If you are stuck on recipe selection — or perhaps you don’t yet have a rolodex of recipes to choose from — stick with simple themes that will make the decisions less cumbersome. For instance, Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, etc. Another suggestion would be entree-based themes, so perhaps you follow the routine of having fish on Monday, ground turkey on Tuesday, whole wheat pasta on Wednesday, and so on.


Don’t forget about breakfast and lunch! Typically these are forgotten or put into the “I’ll Deal With It Later” pile but remember: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Even if you jot down a few commonly consumed meals and have those on-hand, you’ll have a few ideas of what you may be eating on a daily basis and take the guesswork out of meal selection. Write down your meal planning in a notebook or save it in your iPhone’s notes section so that after a few weeks of planning, you can look back and just rinse and repeat. In the end, choose only recipes that will fit your time limits, that you will enjoy, and that will serve your body!


Meal Planning with Nutrition HealthWorks


No matter your condition or walk of life, you get to make the decision of what to put into your body. Of course, we may have dietary restrictions, want to eat healthy, or feel like we need to follow a certain plan — and that is where your dietitian comes into the picture. At Nutrition HealthWorks, your dietitian will be able to provide a personalized nutrition plan to meet your needs and help reach goals in weight management, sports nutrition, or general dietary health a. We’ll help you develop a clear path to success based on your personal preferences, dietary restrictions, and wellness goals. Contact our team to start building your custom meal plan today!


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