Your Perfect Meal Plan

I see it all over the interwebs.  People searching for the perfect meal plan.  Services, blogs, and individuals offering the meal plan to make your life so easy and lose gobs of weight.  Sounds awesome, right?

I too, have searched for that elusive meal plan.  I want my life to be easy and I want to lose gobs of weight.  Well, maybe not gobs.  Gobs.  It's a word.  Look it up.

I am like most folks in that I love food.  I am also probably unlike a lot of folks in that I like to cook.  Even so, I still have struggles on coming up with a plan on what to cook.  So, again, like most folks, I can end up feeling lost and staring at my kitchen longer than I actually spend time coming up with a plan.  Sound familiar?

One thing I have learned over my years of searching for the easy way out, is that, there is no easy way out.  Sorry, dude.

These so called "perfect meal plans" are most likely, not so perfect.  Why?

That's because you are unique.  What works for me may not work for you.  

I have, however, also learned a few golden nuggets that have been extremely beneficial to figuring out that perfect meal plan.  I will again reiterate that what works for me may not work for you, but hopefully you can glean a few golden nuggets for yourself from my own trial and errors.

First, there are a few things to consider.  Ask yourself these questions before getting started:

- What is the purpose of the meal plan?
- What goals do you have?
- Are you cooking for just yourself, or do you have a clan of hungry midgets to feed?
- Do you want a quick fix or do you want to learn how to meal plan for the long haul?
- Are you looking to incorporate new foods or try a new way of eating?

The answers to these questions matter.  Personally, my life goal is to come up with recipes and food combos that are healthy, relatively easy, and delicious so that I can maintain my weight and just be happy with how I'm treating my body on a regular basis.   

Once you've decided which direction you want to go in, you can start narrowing down where to take that first step into planning. 

Well, let's back up just a bit.  I said planning.  If you weren't aware already, to win this game you have to plan so you aren't starring at the kitchen all night while your kids ask you for the 27th time "what's for dinner, lady?".  It will take some effort on your part.  Circle back to the "things to consider" to remind yourself where you want to be.

Ready?







I apologize for the quality of these photos - I was actually meal planning while writing this post, so quick and dirty got the job done.  And that, my friends, is the goal.  Quick and easy.

Now, I can imagine that some one is out there screaming at me "but what the hell do I choose eat?!".  And so there is the crux of why meal plans are so not a one size fits all outfit.

I can't tell you exactly what to eat.  It's all based on your goals and your own definition of what is healthy.  There are absolutely things that I believe are black and white, but I also believe there is a gray area.  I will say with most certainty that we may not agree on those things.  So, how do you decide?

Educate yourself.  This is how I've come to the decisions I've made and am continuing to make.  I keep reading and learning to make the best decisions for myself and my family.  If your health is important, make the time to learn.  Read, research, listen


Let's be real.

I do not go through this routine every single time I plan. However, having this routine has helped me learn how to plan on the fly and make do with what I have.  It has helped me become more efficient at figuring out what to make to accommodate my changing schedule and needs.

Sidenote:  I also have this annoying habit of making a ridiculous amount of new recipes all the time.  (I stopped counting how many cookbooks I have.  It's embarrassing.)  This habit also makes it all the more difficult to amalgamate recipes into a weekly plan I can refer back to.  I do have a vision of one day cataloging and indexing all the recipes I love and creating a cookbook just for myself.  This thought makes my inner Type A giddy.  One day...  

Back to the real.  Meal planning is hard, yo.  But a little effort goes a long way.

I hope that now you will be able to feel more confident in your own knowledge and creativity to take positive steps towards creating a plan.

If you still feel like you need a push to get started, reach out.  I'd love to hear any feedback or questions you might have.  Happy planning!

PS.

*A note on portions: Part 1 & 2.  

1.  I wanted to mention portion sizes because I do think it is a large part of your planning if your goal is to lose or maintain your weight.  I could definitely do an entire, or many, blog posts on this topic as there is so much ground to cover.  If you are like my husband, you just fix your plate, eat, and are done.  If you are like me, you fix your plate, say "this is amazing!", and eat until there's none left.  The latter does not bode well for good health.  Regardless if it's cupcakes or kale.

There are many different ways to go about portion sizing.  First, you need to decide if this even applies to you.  Personally, there are times when I measure my food.  I don't do this all the time, but I have found that measuring my food has led to a much better awareness of what an appropriate portion size is for myself and now I can eyeball a lot of things so I don't go overboard.  Many people eat intuitively and simply stop before they are "stuffed".  This is difficult for me.  It takes about 20 minutes for your body to say "Whoa, dude.  That was enough!".  By then, it's super easy to take it too far without even realizing it.  

2.  How much do you actually need?  Now, I think this is more at the heart of why I believe that not every meal plan is suited for every person.  How much you consume is very individual.  I've even read research that says how I metabolize a banana may not be the same as how you metabolize a banana.  Not surprising as our bodies are so complex, but not something you really may ever have considered.  Making the decision on how much you need to consume also goes back to answering the question of what your goals are.  I have used the Harris-Benedict Equation in the past to calculate my caloric need and have also had outside help from fitness professionals to estimate my need, both based on my activity levels and other factors.

We can still get even more specific on this one, but if you are just looking to make some healthier choices you most likely don't even need to worry about this one just yet.  Food for thought.

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