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Meal Planning

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

About a month ago, I decided to get serious about meal planning. What a difference it has made! I spend less because I know just what I want and need for the week and I waste less because I'm being thoughtful about using up what I've got instead of bringing more of the same into the house. Oh, and the most important part, it has helped with the overeating. I still have the decision to make, but having the plan laid out eliminates a lot of stress to figure out what to make when you're already hungry. I've also started eating 3 meals and 2-3 small snacks to keep me from getting hungry and going into mindless feeding frenzies.

I've shared some pictures of my simple template below. Sparkmail me with your email address if you'd like the template. Or just use the pics to create your own. emoticon
Both the meal planning and grocery list are inspired by the Sparkpeople meal planning tool, which I believe is a .pdf resource somewhere on their site. Pdfs are useful if you want to use a hard copy, but I like the option to have both, so I recreated it with some modifications in a spreadsheet.

By the way, the meal plan does not replace my Sparkpeople Nutrition Tracker. I still need that, as I don't document portions in the meal plan. It's just a guide to know WHAT I'm eating. I still use the tracker to watch how MUCH I'm eating.

When I'm good and plan the whole week, I'll print it out and put it on the fridge. It gets marked up a lot because I swap things in and out. This week, I didn't plan very well, so I'm popping into the spreadsheet daily to figure out what I want to eat. That might work for some people, but it's not ideal for me. I'm going to try to come back this evening and map out the rest of the week, so I can fuhget abot it!

Each week, take stock of your fridge and pantry. Use that as a basis for what you'll eat next week and start a running list of the grocery items you'll need. Having a total picture of the week's food before you is a great opportunity to try new foods, recipes, and cooking techniques. In the month of December, I made a goal to make one new slow cooked meal per week. It was a fun challenge and ended with a few new recipes that the family enjoys.

Here's my grocery list, which I also borrowed from Sparkpeople. I modified it a little so the categories are in order of the supermarket layout. Do this! It will save you time when foraging at the market!

Sorry for the lack of clarity with the images. Sparkmail me with your email address if you want a copy of the template.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I love this blog Brenda! You're doing so well with figuring out what works for you. Fantastic. I've tried various ways to plan, track, etc. too. I finally started to track yesterday and forgot what a HUGE difference that makes. Glad you're on a positive track with your healthier meal planning!

    Next week, I'm adding in a workout plan. I haven't done that in a while, but didn't want to overwhelm myself. Getting the food thing started first.

    Best to you my friend!
    1562 days ago
    Great! I just found a template I like, but yours looks good too.
    1564 days ago
    I love it! Planning meals makes life so much easier, AND it means that we eat better!

    Great work!!
    1564 days ago
    This looks great! It is simular to what I use and I have found the meal tracker really helps keep cost down. We do monthly cooking so planning it out has helped keep cost to aroun 150 for 3 people for a month of dinners.
    1565 days ago
  • SIRIUS2014
    1565 days ago
    Great job, I need to get organized like that!
    1565 days ago
    1565 days ago
  • ANNETTE117
    That is awesome Brenda. Keep up the good work.
    1565 days ago
    Great ideas! In my area, my grocery store chain as a smart phone app for shopping lists that I use when I'm planning meals. I start with the items on sale, proteins mainly, and then plan my meals and make my list for the week based on that. It helps me save money and also to get ideas.

    The app also puts your list in aisle order so it's easier to stay on the list in the store and avoid "exploring" and getting unplanned items in the cart! emoticon

    Unfortunately the chain is a regional one, so not all over the country, but yours may offer something similar, or you can use the same method in making your paper list.
    1565 days ago
    I think this is a great idea. I have tried it in the past, but maybe I wasn't quite ready to succeed. I would love a copy of your template. Will email privately. Thanks
    1565 days ago
  • MALAMI518

    Meal planning is one of the things that I really haven't started working on (yet). Since it's a BTS challenge today, I will use your ideas to work up my meals for the week. I think part of me is afraid to commit, but I like that you have flexibility and move things around. I'm sure that the time spent planning will make the other days more efficient.

    Thanks for sharing your ideas!
    1565 days ago
    Meal planning is essential to our success. Glad that you're taking it so seriously. You are so inspiring to me. Keep up the great job!
    1565 days ago
    I do ww and am very unlikely to stay within my points range if I don't plan my meals at least the day before. It makes a huge difference!


    1565 days ago
  • LETHA_
    Wonderful. Thanks for sharing!
    1565 days ago
    That's awesome Brenda! I definitely need to work on being more organized this year.
    1565 days ago
    This is awesome! Way to go.

    I do something really similar, but I do do it in the tracker. I just put in the portions, etc., and then I run the daily feedback tool to tell me if my planned meals and portions will meet my goals. Also, I have a separate meal category called "planned snacks" which I fill with 1-gram portions of things I know I have on hand that can be healthy snacks. The one-gram thing is so it doesn't really affect my report. And then if I actually end up snacking (sometimes I exercise and need more calories for the day) I move it to the actual Snack category with the right quantity on it.
    1565 days ago
  • NESHAMA123
    This looks great and exactly what I am working on - or trying to. By December I realized I was going to the store daily and sometimes more than that! I will
    Sparkmail you. Thanks!
    1565 days ago
    That looks awesome! Glad it is working so well for you. I'll have to try that when I can do more about my own meals, hopefully soon.
    1565 days ago
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