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HERBACHICK SparkPoints: (33)
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Posts: 5
9/24/14 3:45 P

Congrats on your journey. I cook for one also. I started meal prepping so that I can have meals prepped for a few days. This really helps me on days when I have a lot going on and prevents me from choosing bad options. Having food ready is so easy to just pull out and re-heat. Good Luck on your Journey.

JLHUMMEL13 Posts: 33
9/24/14 10:49 A

I use OOM. It's amazing!!

MRSB1961 SparkPoints: (2,121)
Fitness Minutes: (983)
Posts: 43
9/23/14 9:57 A

Cindy - a good rule of thumb is the closest to nature the better. With that said, there are alot of options that are healthy and easy. Brown rice, beans, fruits and vegis in season etc. Check your weekly grocery store sales ads. I use They provide sales for all stores in your area, and you can get coupons to print, and which newspaper inserts they come in. I do make alot of stuff for hubby and I, and freeze single servings for lunches and quick dinner. I've made vegi soups, meatless chili, and lentil vegi stews. We have saved a ton of money this way, and even more since I don't buy anything prepackaged except for Boca Burger type items, and I get coupons for those, plus they go buy-one-get-one-free at Publix - one of the stores I shop at. If you have a Walmart grocery store near you, their prices are even better, though the selection is not as big as other grocery stores. I've also located several bread and health food outlets which are local. Hope this helps.

CHOCH1127 SparkPoints: (392)
Fitness Minutes: (29)
Posts: 17
9/21/14 9:47 P

I live alone and it is hard to buy and cook for one person when 1) your not into cooking, 2) I have just been with Sparkpeople since the 12th of this month. Sparkpeople have me at 1200 - 1550 total calories a day. I weighed in at 254lbs and will try to lose 50lbs by March 5th,2015.
I have no idea what I can eat and not really eat, or what to buy, I am on food stamps and disability .....CAN ANYONE HELP ME????

emoticon emoticon emoticon


SUZL51 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (10,884)
Posts: 166
9/18/14 6:31 P

My hubby and I sit down on Sunday morning with my SparkPeople Cookbook and recipes I've printed out from the website and we plan our whole week out. Then I check to see what I have on hand and what I need to buy at the grocery store. Of course, there are times when stuff comes up and we need to change our meal plan, but it works great most of the time.

WSBMOM Posts: 304
9/18/14 9:40 A

good tips, thanks!
I am going to try the out of milk grocery list app on my phone.

9/15/14 1:10 A

I use this website: It's a subscription website but you can try it for a month for free (and download all your meals at the end of the month. You can plan for as many meals as you want. I usually just plan dinners and make salads or take leftovers for lunches. The blog has all kinds of recipes for special needs-allergies, gluten free, etc. It's totally easy to load recipes from sites (including Sparkpeople recipes) and the planner makes it easy to plan for one week, two weeks, however long you like. And it makes your grocery list from your planner. Totally overhauled my planning/shopping and made it easy as anything to stick to a budget. And it syncs with Out of Milk :-)

Edited by: DIXIESTARTSNEW at: 9/21/2014 (00:18)
AKA_GAMERMOM SparkPoints: (58,396)
Fitness Minutes: (41,623)
Posts: 506
9/14/14 8:02 P

MFABER3, I love OOM!!!!! To date, you are the only person I know who uses it. hahaha! So cool! I too am geek!

ENGLISHBLUEBELL SparkPoints: (1,870)
Fitness Minutes: (61)
Posts: 88
9/14/14 5:35 P

You may find this helpful regarding meal planning & ways to include those family meals not on a particular plan. Theresa - the women who designed this using MS Excel, was featured on Chris Powell's Extreme Weight-loss Makeover. The Spreadsheet has a grocery list feature. This combined with the free pdf Healthy Foods list that shows portion control may assist in your overall plan. Here are the links:

My Meal Planner based on Chris Powell’s Choose to Lose 7 Day Carb Cycling Program

Free Chris Powell's Healthy Foods & Grocery List :

Get the free Healthy Foods List:

Edited by: ENGLISHBLUEBELL at: 9/14/2014 (17:46)
AKASHA66 SparkPoints: (68,119)
Fitness Minutes: (57,851)
Posts: 5,792
9/14/14 8:32 A

I'm back to writing a dinner plan, at least, for every night of the week. It helps in using up what is in the freezer and not overbuying.

MFABER3 SparkPoints: (98,140)
Fitness Minutes: (45,674)
Posts: 1,287
9/13/14 4:20 P

I like your plan Brandonsmom! It might help us with that surprise bill we get at check-out sometimes!

BRANDONSMOM26 SparkPoints: (8,934)
Fitness Minutes: (2,798)
Posts: 229
9/13/14 4:16 P

One thing I find incredibly useful is stopping before i go to check out and evaluating my cart. I collect everything i don't need in the top part of the cart and then put it all back! the trick is make sure you don't pick up anything new!
I have ended up with a lot of things to put back. I should try doing this at the end of each section before I leave!

CJFUN01 SparkPoints: (9,443)
Fitness Minutes: (2,850)
Posts: 25
9/10/14 1:36 P

This is AWESOME!! all the replies/suggestions/advice/ is so helpful...

I do all my meal planning afternoon, after I have looked at all the ads and sales clipped my coupons to see what stores I need. when it says 10 for 10 on something I will buy it and throw in freezer and use for the following week meal plan.

I'm a diabetic and allergic to tomatoes, so my meal planning is careful but if anyone has receipes or food ideas PLEASE pass them on LOL I could share as well send me a message...


LMILTON67 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (1,998)
Posts: 573
9/9/14 3:51 P

If you are single, you've got it a lot easier. You have only yourself to plan for and please. However, if you are in a relationship/family and cook for someone other than yourself on a regular basis, it helps to get their input as well. I have to say that is easier said than done though. My hubby will tell me to fix whatever and he'll eat it, then complains about it (it's not filling enough or he doesn't like the flavor). Him being from the south and my growing up on a farm, doesn't help matters either. But the best thing to do is to get everyone who is eating involved, tweak things a bit if you have to to satisfy the majority without sacrificing how healthy the meal is and the biggest thing, STICK TO YOUR GUNS!


CATLOVER98 Posts: 131
9/9/14 2:31 P

I have just started to doing meal plans so I know what I am fixing for the week. I also go through the adds every Sunday to see if anything is on sale I can add to my meals.

SALLYL15 SparkPoints: (6,297)
Fitness Minutes: (60)
Posts: 37
9/9/14 2:13 P

Shortly after I began living with my Husband,( who was my boyfriend at the time) I began making and posting a dinner menu for two weeks at a time,( which is when I shop) It served two purposes, it kept him from asking me what's for dinner and it helped me plan what I needed to buy. Have been doing that for nearly 29 years.

I also like to fool around with recipes, trying it the regular way first so I know how it's supposed to taste and then I make changes where I can, lightening it up, while trying NOT to sacrifice taste. I am a Type 11 Diabetic as well as someone who needs to watch her weight, my husband on the other hand doesn't have any health issues and is still slim,( 31 inch waist, the wretch) lol. But I gotta give him his props, he's game to try whatever I make and in our years together I've tossed some interesting things his way.

ZELDA13 SparkPoints: (79,833)
Fitness Minutes: (26,215)
Posts: 3,497
9/8/14 7:05 P

I still eat a lot of the same meals but I make them healthier. I check the ads before I shop to take advantage of sales. I make a list of the meals I want and input them on my nutrition tracker to make sure they work for me. That done, I then make my list online. The grocery store I use is online to shop or make a list. For this week, for example, I wanted BBQ Chicken and pasta. Chicken breasts were on sale for a crazy low price so I bought double. Steak was on sale so that will be another meal with leftovers to top a salad for lunch. I use veggies instead of pasta so I have zucchini, yellow squash and I'll add some chopped kale and top it with homemade marinara. I'll make enough to have it for lunch another day. I picked up some ground turkey to make meatballs to have with the pasta, and I'll have enough for another meal either burgers, tacos or whatever. We will have fish and I pick that up the day I make it so it's fresh. Once a week we usually have an egg white omelet with veggies and beans. I always have lentils on hand and use them to make a pot of soup or chili each week as well as add them to ground beef or turkey to cut back on the amount of meat I eat. I will also use beans to make tacos, add to soups as well as salads. I have to plan in advance or there's no telling what I might eat. This helps me a lot.

TIFFFIT Posts: 1,765
9/8/14 5:07 P

I've tried a lot of different apps and my favorite, hands-down, is MealBoard. There are two components--an app and an online version and the idea is that you enter the recipes that you like and then just plug them into your schedule. It has a recipe import feature that allows you to just bring in existing recipes from a number of sources, including SparkPeople, Food Network and so on. For each ingredient, you indicate whether it should be on your shopping list or not (pepper and flour for example aren't on my list because I always have them). As you add a recipe to your schedule, you can scale the number of servings so that you may make four servings of your dinner entree but only one of breakfast or lunch, and the grocery list is adjusted accordingly (as well as the recipe's instructions). You can make a list of the things in your pantry, create templates of meal plans and even sync with other users. That's a great feature if I want to plan our meals at home but my husband is doing the shopping; his device syncs to my plans and he get the shopping list.

9/8/14 3:25 P has everything that you are looking for....

9/8/14 3:20 P

I really can not explain this site but it does a lot for best advise is just check it out. It is called

KITTENHEELS100 Posts: 22
9/8/14 2:51 P

Cut the crap from the cart, keep the kids at home, cut everything in 1/2, buy less at the store and go to the store more often....yes....I said more often... It has worked for our family. We were spending way to much, and throwing out way too much spoiled foods, and eating way to much junk foods.

STUTLERTONI SparkPoints: (60,207)
Fitness Minutes: (88,410)
Posts: 323
9/8/14 7:10 A

If you don't own The Spark Solution see if your local library lends it out. The only processed food they call for that you can't make yourself is yogurt.

AMWAKEMAN1973 SparkPoints: (38)
Fitness Minutes: (0)
Posts: 1
9/7/14 7:31 P

Hi. Does anyone know a free online menu plan that either offers only fresh foods or has an option for only fresh foods (I mean nothing processed like cereals, protein shakes, crackers, etc). I am at a dead-end to come up with menus for daughter (6 yo) and myself. The menu I get from sparkpeople has processed foods on it or foods she / I won't eat like soy and I can't figure out how to exclude them. Thanks for any help you can give me.

MFABER3 SparkPoints: (98,140)
Fitness Minutes: (45,674)
Posts: 1,287
9/7/14 4:59 P

I am a computer geek & AR person too. I like to plan my next week on Friday/Saturday and shop on Sunday. I shop once a week.

Recently, I started keeping recipes and weekly meals in a binder so I have a list of go-to meals - my computer is in another room and the binder is easier to keep in the kitchen. I'd like to be paperless but this is as close as I can get.

1. I print a weekly calendar of the upcoming week and use that to write my meals on. I use google calendar religiously, for everything, & it's shared & used by hubby too, so I know when he has upcoming business plans for dinner.

2. I go through my recipe manager, MacGourmet (Anyone know of a good one that creates grocery lists that is also cross-platform? I'm replacing my Mac with MS) for the weeks dinner recipes. I have set up tabs for week 1, week 2, etc. to put different recipes that I use. I try to keep less than 10/week so there is some wiggle room, but they are based on similar ingredients. I chose which recipes I'm going to use for the week then create a grocery list of items needed.

3. I put the items from the recipe manager grocery list I need on Out Of Milk so I can view it at the Store. Yes, it's an extra step, but saves on paper. OOM also lets you move the items you purchase into a Pantry list, so you have a running list of what's in the pantry too. When I'm finished shopping, I make the move from shopping list to Pantry and I'm done.

4. Every evening, I check what's up for the next day and plan accordingly. Done!

I've tried using SP Meal Planner for meal planning but changing meals is tedious and this is actually easier for me. Once I make a recipe, I just create a "new food" with the values and save it to my Favorites on SP. That makes life a lot easier when I track my meals. I track as I go usually.

Hope this helps.

LGANDAB SparkPoints: (5,443)
Fitness Minutes: (4,255)
Posts: 93
9/6/14 6:24 P

I plan and shop on Friday or Saturday.

First, I look in the fridge to see what I need to use up. This week, I need to use up vanilla Greek yogurt, some cherry tomatoes and some of the egg whites I bought at Costco.

Then, I look in the pantry and freezer to see what I have (but that isn't necessarily perishable). I noticed that I have an unopened bottle of salsa, and lots of brown rice. I also have two huge bags of frozen tropical fruit. (And lots of other stuff too.)

Next, I start thinking about what kinds of meals I could make. The vanilla yogurt and frozen fruit could become smoothies. So I write "smoothies" at the bottom of my list, and add almond milk and juice to my "to buy" list. The cherry tomatoes and egg whites could become a fritatta, so I write that at the bottom of my list too, and add ricotta cheese, fresh basil, shallots, garlic and fresh spinach to my list. We don't have Chipotle in my country but I've seen cool photos of Chipotle's burritos and burrito bowls online, so I start thinking of turning the rice and salsa into something similar. I write it on my list and add black beans, a red pepper, a sweet potato, cilantro, pumpkin seeds and a lime to my list (I'll turn the last four ingredients into a cilantro pesto!).

Last, I will add a few snack ideas with a question mark beside them; when I get to the supermarket I'll check out prices and see which ones are a good deal. I skipped the grapes this week and got some Greek yogurt cups instead, as they were a better deal.

I will do as much of the cooking as possible on Sunday afternoon or Sunday evening, so that I have my weeknights free for the stuff I like to do in the evening.

9/6/14 3:47 P

I shop once a week. I make my grocery list with my dinners across the top of my list, i.e. meatloaf, mashed pot. carrots. I have one day planned to go out. After that I fill in what I need to make them and all the extras for breakfasts and lunches.

I know every week the kids will eat pb&j and ham sandwiches. I also know if I bought a large container of yogurt the week before I'll get cottage cheese the following week. The most important part is making sure I have everything to make supper.

This works for me because I can make my dinners in any order I want during the week. All my fruits and veggies stay fresh for the week and my meat does not need to be thawed. I make it a point to put a couple low cal. dinners on the list for when I have extra at lunch. I make sure a couple are easy and fast for the days I'm running late. And the out meal for when I just don't feel like it.

I have about 3 weeks worth of meals I like to make. It just depends on what is coming up in my week and what I'm in the mood for. I got my meals made and tracked for a few weeks and I find now it takes no time at all. I do not use the meals provided by Sparkpeople. I think it would be too difficult for me, the family as a whole (grandma is diabetic and the kids eat well but do not eat everything) all have different likes and needs. My routine allows for, not in the mood, ate a candy bar at lunch and don't want to go over my cals., regular days and busy days.

I use no apps. Just the internet to track my calories. I make all my old recipes, I just changed them a little, i.e. whole wheat pasta, ground turkey, no bread with dinner.

KMACCARLSON SparkPoints: (19,717)
Fitness Minutes: (2,771)
Posts: 140
9/6/14 2:42 P

Thanks for creating this discussion I am looking for help in this area too!

BYEPOUNDS Posts: 7,204
9/6/14 10:51 A


CHIBIKARATE Posts: 15,003
9/6/14 12:37 A

sounds good

9/6/14 12:20 A

zachsmom125 (hope I remembered your name correctly),

I too do and LOVE it!

I'm following the Paleo plan for health reasons but will just add a potato or rice for the family. So easy! And I love not having to think at the grocery store.

I like that the ingredients are simple and not expensive.

IMREITE SparkPoints: (418,604)
Fitness Minutes: (297,701)
Posts: 21,164
9/5/14 1:12 A

The store i go to has their ad online. I view it to make a menu plan. i also check to see which produce (fresh, frozen, canned) is on sale. i also check which lean protein is on sale. ny dh is a picky eater, but i also make plans for lunch items during the week,

MICHELLEXXXX SparkPoints: (12,272)
Fitness Minutes: (5,920)
Posts: 3,790
9/3/14 10:26 P

When we buy all natural, we know everything is good. Then make a list of the amount of servings you need each day from each group. This allows flexibility. A day's worth of exchanges may be (very random example):
Proteins: 7 (about 50 cal per serving lean meat)
Fats: 6 (about 100 cal per serving)
Veggies: 8 (about 30 cal per serving)
Fruits: 2 (about 120 cal/serving)
Lean Dairy: 3 (100 cal/serving)
That would give a total of about 1800 cal/day. Then you separate into meals such as:

Breakfast: 1protein, 2 fats, 1dairy, 2 veggies.

There are combo foods, such as eggs that count as a Protein and a Fat. The system takes a little time to learn but once you start practicing with it, I've found people who don't like to count calories seem to enjoy it.

CEIGSTI Posts: 3,098
9/3/14 2:41 P

I use a planner, magazines, online recipe boards. In my planner, I write what each meal is on what days and where I got the recipe from. As I look at the recipes, I write down on my grocery list what I don't have in the kitchen already. Then I shop for the items. If I look at say Tuesday and think I'd rather have Thursday's meal, I switch them. That's it. My online recipe boards are: Cooking Light,, Food Network. Each has their own recipe box you can save meals to. Which is nice. I have and Food Network apps. I use my ipad religiously.

Oh also that app too.

Edited by: CEIGSTI at: 9/3/2014 (14:45)
CHEFKAMALII SparkPoints: (43,186)
Fitness Minutes: (30,391)
Posts: 178
9/3/14 12:03 P

I actually use Pinterest to help me. I pin meals as I find them and have them sorted by protein type. I generally only pin stuff with nutritional information available, but if it looks really good I will pin anyway.

Once a week (usually Saturday for me), I go through my pins and pick out the dinners my husband and I will eat and then move onto my breakfast and lunches. I am very boring with these. I usually do a smoothie or peanut butter toast and a piece of fruit for breakfast because I can have them in the car. For lunches, I generally make extra dinner and have leftovers.

Anyway, I have a board called "This Week's Dinners" and I pin ALL of the recipes I want to make that week to that board. That puts them in one place and makes it easy to out together a grocery list. I spend maybe 15 minutes doing this. I also have a magnetic notepad on the fridge so if we run out of something or hubby needs something it doesn't get forgotten.

I used to print everything out, but that just turned into a messy cabinet. Now that I pin them, I use my tablet to access them in the kitchen so I don't worry about losing them.

Let me know if you have any questions!

SLIMMERKIWI SparkPoints: (253,554)
Fitness Minutes: (41,531)
Posts: 27,138
9/3/14 2:41 A

KATHYBRU28 - have you found your "Nutrition Tracker" page? If you hover your cursor over "MY TRACKERS" in the orange band at the top of this page, you will see a drop-down menu - "my Nutrition" is the second one on that drop-down. Just click on that. The bottom of that page will give you your ranges for calories, fat, carbs, protein.

Let us know if you need more help.


JELLZY SparkPoints: (4,322)
Fitness Minutes: (4,284)
Posts: 103
9/2/14 8:04 P

Kathy -
Click the "Start" button in the upper left hand corner of this page. Right near the top under the "Track Food" and "Track Fitness" buttons, you will see your Base Calorie goal. Mine is 1400-1750, so your 1850 may very well be correct.

Thank you for all of the amazing suggestions - I am going to go to that website mentioned below with the meal plans and see what it is all about :) I've also started making index cards to make things a bit easier on myself. You guys are awesome!

KATHYBRU28 SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 6
9/2/14 7:38 P

I don't know where my start page is and if it's what I saw it said up to 1850 calories daily.....Does that sound right????? I might have to try and start all over again if I can find where I do that

KATHYBRU28 SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 6
9/2/14 7:29 P

I don't know where the calorie amount for me is...I don't know where anything is on here...It's very hard for me to start f I don't know how many calories, fats, carbs, protein I'm suppose to eat daily...Ihave to know before I can start making meal plans

SLIMMERKIWI SparkPoints: (253,554)
Fitness Minutes: (41,531)
Posts: 27,138
9/2/14 7:02 P

KATHYBRU28 - when you signed up for SP they would have given you a range of calories and nutrients to eat between. That is based on your age/height/current weight/physical activity level.

IF you are in the States, most of your foods will be in the SP Nutrition Data Base. Just weigh what you eat and enter it into the Nutrition Tracker and it will tell you the calories etc. that you have eaten, and the balance left for the day. Be careful if it comes to using SP Members nutrition info. It is notorious for a high % of inaccuracies. Some things you may have to enter manually. The nutrition labels on the foods just need to be copied, then check that it is accurate before you save it. Then it will be in your Data Base until you decide to remove it.

I suggest you ensure that you eat some protein at each meal. Aim for about 20g (minimum of 60g daily) and ensure that your meat is lean, and the chicken is healthiest with the skin removed. That also saves heaps of calories. Ensure that you eat healthy fats, such as nuts, avocado, olive oil, rice bran oil, and keep animal fats to a minimum. Eat plenty of fruit/veges is also best, too. Aim for a minimum of 5 serves per day, but more preferably. This helps on a number of levels: providing good fibre which we need and which helps to keep us fuller for longer; is generally lower calories than many other foods which helps keep us in our calorie range; provides a variety of vitamins etc. that we need; helps to keep us energized and our mind healthy.

If you have difficulty choosing meals/foods, then I suggest that you turn on your Meal Planner and be guided by that for a while. You will soon see what and how much is recommended for you, and will give you good ideas for choosing foods/meals for yourself. Make sure that you weigh all of your food. Then you will truly know exactly what and how much you are eating.

I generally suggest that if you are on 1200 - 1550 calorie range, then aim for 3-400 calories per meal, and around 200-300 calories for healthy snacks. Don't be tempted to UNDER eat or skip meals. They can both be counter-productive.

If you do a lot of exercise (start slowly and work up) then you will need to eat a little more to accommodate this. 1200 calories is the minimum recommended for an average weight, sedentary woman. When you are overweight and/or very active, you will need more

I am 60 but started to lose weight in my mid-50's (60 now) and altho' I don't know your current weight, had about the same amount to lose as you. My Registered Dietitian put me on 1400 calories - no range. Altho' I exercised a bit, I didn't do anywhere near the amount that is normally recommended because of skeletal issues. I started to lose weight slowly, and have now been at my goal for 3 years.

Good luck,

LBANDY1 SparkPoints: (3,899)
Fitness Minutes: (3,834)
Posts: 35
9/2/14 3:09 P

I am loving the pre-programmed tracked meal plan on here ! :) they even have a printable grocery list. its an easy to follow daily eating plan with all the ways to choose what is on the list or whatever you want to eat that day and you can track it too:) just go to the nutrition and select it . Good luck

KATHYBRU28 SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 6
9/2/14 9:45 A

Thanks I'll check it out

ZACHSMOM125 Posts: 32
9/2/14 8:51 A

I have and use they plan the meals (and you have choices of type) for families or just two. You get emails weekly with the menu plan and the grocery list of what you need. Sometimes one meal (leftovers) are used for a second meal later in the week. There is a small fee per month but well worth it.
Like I said there are different types to choose from 15 different one; clean eating, gluten free, low carb, low fat, paleo, diabetic, vegetarian, classic, 30 minute... just to name a few. You can also select a healthy breakfast plan and healthy lunch plan.
Even if it's not for you, it is well worth checking it out. I LOVE IT!!!! I don't have to think about what to fix, or what to eat. Me, like you, if I don't have a plan I am SUNK!!!

God Bless and have a great day!

KATHYBRU28 SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 6
9/2/14 8:12 A

Maybe you can help me out...I am a 57 yr old women and don't have a clue on how many calories, protein,fats, etc, I should be eating daily...I need to lose 60 lbs. When I read a label on a food product,I don't understand ...Can you give me a idea on a daily meal plan or how many calories I should be eating....I just don't get it,

SLIMMERKIWI SparkPoints: (253,554)
Fitness Minutes: (41,531)
Posts: 27,138
9/2/14 5:13 A

When I was a Rest Home cook a few years ago, I had to create a revolving menu for the Health Board's accreditation. I chose a 5 week revolving one to ensure that the oldies had a good variety of meals that they could enjoy, and that they would otherwise miss out on. It also helped to reduce boredom.

What I did was write down each meal - the protein, and the veges, but rather than name the veges, I put in place that the main meal (which they had during the day, and a lighter meal at night) had at least 3 veges, preferably 4, and that they were all to be a different colour. That way you can account for specials and seasonal produce.

I made sure that if they had pasta or rice one day, they didn't have it the second day.

What I do for myself is bulk cook a variety of casseroles/soups, etc. I have taken to buying a Store cooked Rotisserie Chicken, and make a few varieties from that. One is Apricot Chicken with onions, celery, tomato paste, red lentils, red capsicum, and a little Moroccan spice; another might have a can of tomatoes with basil, celery, red lentils, onion and cannellini beans. Then I make a pork casserole - again a variety of them. The same with some other meats. This gives me a big variety to work on, and makes life so much easier, especially when I am busy or tired, or as has been the last couple weeks - sick. If I can't be bothered cooking, which isn't very often, I can heat one or two of the frozen meals and have on toast and not worry about the veges, because they are laden with them anyway.

I have always kept a very full and extensive pantry and fridge so I don't run out of things. That way, if something happens that I can't go shopping, I still eat well. I have enough to last at least 2-3 weeks in the pantry, apart from what is in the freezer. When I start using something, I ensure that it is replaced. If something is on a really good special, and I use a fair bit of it, I buy a few of them - such as a variety of different flavoured cans of tomato, baked beans, canned fish, etc.

If money is limited, then just start building it up. It might be brown rice and chick peas one week, and another week kidney beans and cans of fish. Take advantage of the specials and get as much as you can afford at the time. Once you have your big store cupboard, it costs no extra to keep it going because you only replace what you have used, and if you have a good supply, that may mean only when they are on special.

I only eat what I fancy each day of the frozen casseroles, and cook my veges every day (I have a lot of time because I am on my own and don't work). Apart from choice of veges, look at the way you cook them, too, because the different cooking methods add to different tastes/textures, and even smells.


JELLZY SparkPoints: (4,322)
Fitness Minutes: (4,284)
Posts: 103
9/2/14 4:27 A

Michelle - I'm not quite sure what you mean, so no I haven't considered it :) I would love more information though!

MICHELLEXXXX SparkPoints: (12,272)
Fitness Minutes: (5,920)
Posts: 3,790
9/2/14 12:20 A

Have you considered buying all natural foods and using an exchange system?

JELLZY SparkPoints: (4,322)
Fitness Minutes: (4,284)
Posts: 103
9/1/14 2:27 P

Awesome ideas! I am going to try the index card idea. I'm a little (lot) anal retentive and love my office supplies and organization so I think I could pretty easily color code index cards. And yes, I was planning on doing every Breakfast around 300 Calories, every lunch around 300 Calories, etc. Thank you for the ideas!

FOXGLOVE999 SparkPoints: (28,163)
Fitness Minutes: (51,352)
Posts: 388
9/1/14 2:02 P

I have always planned my dinners one to two weeks at a time, depending on my access to grocery money. I don't use an app. Shopping lists generated from recipes have never seemed very effective, because they don't take staples into account. I like to vary dinners based on type of meat and ethnicity of the dish, as well as variety of side dishes. Every morning, I enter my food for the day, and make adjustments as needed.

I previously did WW and while tracking points can be easier, not as much to balance, and the numbers are smaller. I prefer SP.

NIRERIN Posts: 14,297
9/1/14 1:38 P

i've never seen anything other than a person that could create meal plans and shopping lists that take into account extra people for part of the time.
the only thing i would suggest is doing each meal individually instead of on a weekly basis. let me explain the best plan i have heard using index cards. you write the recipe for the meal including portion sizes on the front of the card and then you use the back of the card to write down the ingredients for the whole meal. when you go to plan your week, you grab a card for each meal/snack, then stack them, flip them over and you have your grocery list already done. if you did a whole week of meals at once you'd have to keep editing the lists if you decided to have tacos instead of spaghetti on tuesday. but if you do each meal on an individual piece of paper, it becomes more versatile.
if you plan well when you figure out the recipes and portion sizes on the cards [ie keep each breakfast to around 300 cals, each snack to 100, each lunch to 400, each dinner to 500 cals or whatever breakdown you want, so long as each mealtime has about the same calories] then you don't really need to track online after each meal. in other words, you start by generically breaking down your day into however many times you eat, then adjusting the calories for each time you eat to total where they need to be to get you into your ranges at the end of the day. as you enter in a dinner recipe, know that dinner needs to be x many calories, you adjust the recipe so that the yield is x +/- 50 to 100 cals. then you keep that dinner recipe in the dinner section and pull it out as needed. again, if you do all the work to start, you can just grab and go for the day to day.

Edited by: NIRERIN at: 9/1/2014 (13:45)
JELLZY SparkPoints: (4,322)
Fitness Minutes: (4,284)
Posts: 103
9/1/14 1:05 P

Hi Everyone :)
I have been on this site for a bit and am trying to get motivated and organized enough that I don't have any excuses and nothing stopping me from succeeding. One of my biggest challenges in the past is having healthy meal options planned out and readily available. When I don't have a PLAN, I generally don't do well. I like to plan a week or two ahead of time and love that the SparkPeople Nutrition tracker allows me to do that.

However, the problem I'm running into is that it's super time consuming to go through the SP Tracker and replace everything that I don't like (tofu, for example) and substitute other options. I've looked for various apps (Kindle Fire, iPhone, PC) that are easy to use and allow meal planning with the grocery list feature.

Another problem I've run into, which I guess isn't so much a problem as it is an inconvenience, is that a lot of meal trackers only generate a shopping list for one person. Well, I will be eating breakfast, lunch and snacks by myself but I have a daughter and husband who both need to eat dinner too.

I've considered making a binder with different weekly plans in them, with shopping lists attached, and just rotating them so I'm not eating the same thing anymore but that is a lot of work and it seems like I'd be reinventing the wheel - there HAS to be something out there that does something very similar.

So my question is this - how do you plan ahead? Do you use apps? I want to feel prepared, but the task of planning feels so daunting that I don't even want to start. Thank you in advance :)

EDIT: Or maybe I join Weight Watchers online? I used to be a member of that and, honestly, tracking WW Points always seems much easier than tracking Calories / Fat / Carbs / Etc.

Edited by: JELLZY at: 9/1/2014 (13:06)
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