Estimated reading time: 3 minute(s)
The best way to make healthy choices is to make a healthy meal plan, this is your best ally when making a healthy grocery list that best suits your needs. That way, when you’re in the store, it will be easier to buy what you need and not succumb to cravings.
What’s in a Healthy Meal Plan?
In order to have a well-balanced menu that meets all our bodies needs we should include proteins, fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals. This can be difficult to do, if you’re not sure which foods contain these nutrients. That’s why you should simplify it by using the guide on how to make a balanced plate. This will help you visualize how to organize each of your daily meals.
Once you know what you should include in every meal, start putting together your menu based on your routine and then confirm that they provide all the nutrients that I recommended in my previous post; if it doesn’t then pair it with another food you like that has those missing nutrients. For example, if you usually eat yogurt with granola for breakfast, then throw some of your favorite seasonal fruits on top.
The most important thing when planning your weekly menu is to define how you are going to prepare your meals from now on. There are other tips (although they won’t make your meal any healthier) that can be useful in improving planning and ensuring your success.
The first thing is to have your template on hand, separate meal times into columns based on your habits (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and if you snack between meals) then put the days of the week that you want to plan into rows. You can do this by hand or print out a template that you find online or even make your own, whatever is more comfortable for you.
Once you’re ready, keep the following things in mind while putting together your weekly menu:
Transform your menu into a rainbow
Alternate foods from the same food group on your plate such as vegetables. This way you can take advantage of the different nutrients provided in each one (since they don’t all share the same thing), and avoid the monotony. A trick to guaranteeing that you are consuming a wide variety of minerals and vitamins from different fruits and vegetables is to make your plate look like a rainbow. Arranging different colors of these foods on your plate is the most sure way to know that you’re providing your body with more nutrients.
Take into account your, and your family’s routine
When planning, take into account everyone’s usual activities, and special events; for example, the days you go to the gym, need to travel, or have a special meeting. If you have children it’s especially helpful to consider if they have a special playdate, or activity (like a football game, for example), do they need a mid morning or afternoon snack etc…?
Si tienes niños, es muy útil considerar en la planificación de esos días si tienen alguna reunión o actividad especial (un partido de fútbol, por ejemplo), sus snacks o meriendas de media mañana o media tarde si las realizan, etc…All of this will help to avoid last minute purchases that are likely to take you away from healthy planning.
Include Drinks in your planning
Often drinks are not included when meal planning, leading to purchases of things with high levels of sugars, artificial sweeteners, colors and preservatives. But, if you really want to improve your diet, starting thinking about healthier options that can replace those drinks that are harmful to our health. That way, you won’t be caught off guard and you won’t dread only having water with every meal.
Although, I recommend that you choose water as your quintessential drink of choice , there are other healthy alternatives that exist, that are just as healthy as water and super delicious, like smoothies, or flavored water. The most important thing is that you avoid drinking soft drinks and juices.
Make more than a 7 day meal plan
You can plan out your meals based on the number of times you grocery shop, however, I recommend that you prepare your meal plan for more than 7 days. This will keep you from repeating the same thing every Monday or Tuesday. Remember, the idea here is to not get bored.
“Make a list of your favorite healthy recipes that you like to have at home, and use it as a rough draft for your meal plans cycle”
Involve your children in the planning process
If you have children at home, this will help you to familiarize them with this chore and they will enjoy planned meals more. Also, you might be surprised by their creativity. The best thing about this is that you can make 2 or 3 plans and then reuse them to do your shopping, adapting it to your needs at that moment of course.
Once you have your meals ready, write out the list of ingredients for your grocery list and head to the store!
If you enjoyed this article about healthy meal planning, don’t miss out on these similar articles:
4 tricks to healthy shopping
Three things not to leave out on a well-balanced plate