Monday, April 13, 2015

Meal Planning 101

*Disclaimer: I'm no expert. I'm just a regular girl on a budget, doing what works for me & these are my suggestions to my readers.*

I basically follow the 21 Day Fix Meal Plan, I just modify where I need to. This is something I've used since March 2014. It's basic portion control, no counting calories. That being said, let's get to the meat, so-to-speak. And yes, I snack. I mess up, but I don't give up.

1. Decide what your staples are. You need to have an idea of what you will be eating the most of, throughout the week for: proteins, carbs, veggies, fruits, healthy fats, seeds & oil & "spoons". Below is a quick list of my go-to's:
  • Proteins - Shakeology, whey, yogurt, turkey, chicken, eggs, protein bar (modification)
  • Carbs - Quinoa, couscous, sweet potato, whole grain bread, Flatout Wrap (I love to wrap my food up), unsweetened almond milk, corn
  • Veggies - Broccoli, brussel sprouts, baby carrots, tomatoes, raw spinach, cauliflower, romaine, green beans
  • Fruits - Strawberries, grapes, starfruit, banana, blueberries, cantaloupe, honeydew, apple
  • Healthy Fats - Hummus, mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan
  • Seeds & oils - Almonds, homemade dressing, oil & vinegar
  • Spoons - Nut butters (peanut, almond, cashew), coconut oil, evoo
Now, the plan will tell you how many of these to have each day & how to calculate your calorie target. You don't have to count calories, but you'll have a calorie baseline & if you stick to the containers, you're on target. These are measured portions. You can get a container "cheat sheet" for what goes in your containers here. You can also get a cheat sheet for the amount that goes in the containers here

I do not eat 100% clean. Eating 100% clean is expensive & it just doesn't fit into my budget/time frame sometimes. If I can't purchase fresh green beans, I get frozen or canned. I just purchase the least amount of processed ingredients as possible.

2. Once you've decided what your staples are, plug them into your meal tracker. This link is the best one that I have found to-date for a meal tracker. There is room to write in what you will be eating, plus the number of proteins you will be having & the number at the top of each day. If you've never used one of these, it's a good idea to do so, if you're finding yourself gaining & not wanting to gain. You're able to pinpoint what you need to do differently, as well as see what areas that you may be lacking in. 

3. You don't have to stick to the plan verbatim; write it in pencil. Leave room for change. This isn't law. This is adjusting your food to fit your life. DO NOT STARVE YOURSELF! There is a wealth of information out there. Try Pinterest. There are a gazillion recipes that are 21-Day-Fix-Approved! 

4. Once you've decided on your staples & penciled in your tracker, it's time to shop. FIND THOSE DEALS! You can eat cleaner & save money, I promise. 

5. Last, but not least, meal prep. I save lunch meat containers that my husband uses for his lunch everyday. I also have several separated containers for a meal on-the-go to pop in the microwave at a convenience store, if necessary. 

6. Cook your protein in bulk! I make a 5 pound bag of chicken at the time: cool it, portion it & store it in the fridge. If it's there, I eat it. If it's not, I snack. Plain and simple. 

7. I also cook some veggies in bulk. I like to do fresh frozen that way. I add it to the chicken & voila, protein & veggie in one container.
8. Portion bags of grapes, cantaloupe, strawberries, etc. & have them separate & ready to go, as well. 

All this sounds so easy & so simple but, if you don't take the steps to set yourself up to win:

I'm for real, Lucille. Give yourself a chance. Don't set yourself up for failure. 

We're all in this together! I want us all to make it! 

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