If you are working on becoming a nutritionist, fitness instructor, or looking to create a healthier diet for yourself you may be asked, to list at least four steps to successful meal planning? Here are four steps to get you started on the path of successful meal planning:
Step 1: Determine your daily calorie needs
Step 2: Plan your meals and snacks accordingly
Step 3: Shop for the week’s groceries
Step 4: Prepare your meals and snacks for the week
We can break this down further to create a solid and easy-to-follow step-by-step meal plan to keep you on track and losing weight while building muscle.
Step 1: Determine Your Daily Calorie Needs for your Meal Plan
The first step is to find out how many calories you need to consume each day. You can do this by using an online calorie calculator or by visiting a nutritionist. Once you have your daily calorie number, you can begin planning your meals.
You will begin by seeing what is your calorie needs. This can vary widely depending on your gender, age, height, and starting weight. The average woman needs around 2,000 calories each day, and the average man needs around 2,500. If you want to lose weight you will need to consume less than this, and if you are looking to bulk up and build muscle mass you will need to consume more.
Most professional nutritionists and trainers suggest creating a calorie deficit (eating fewer calories than you burn) or a calorie surplus (eating more calories than you burn) in increments of 200 calories. After 1 – 2 weeks you can see at what rate you are losing or gaining mass.
Some people will find it difficult to stay in both a caloric deficit or a caloric surplus. Eating less can often be difficult when you are constantly hungry. Eating when you are no longer hungry is also difficult when you are making healthy choices. It is much easier to overeat frozen pizza and cake than it is to overeat grilled chicken and broccoli. This is where meal prepping comes in handy, we will talk about that next.
There are many tricks to staying on point with your daily calorie goal. Eating carrots or even sugar-free pudding can be a huge help when hunger sets in at night. Remember that health is a long game. Being 100% perfect all the time is not sustainable. Finding ways to “cheat” correctly can massively increase your ability to stay on track and successful with your meal plan.
This can always be increased or decreased as you continue with your successful meal plan. This is step one of our list of at least four steps to successful meal planning.
Step 2: Planning Your Meals and Snacks for a Successful Meal Plan
The second step in our four step successful meal plan is planning. This means planning so you are not stuck eating unhealthy fast food or processed snacks when the hunger is setting in.
This means you want to have all of the staples available if you are the one doing the cooking. A sample list of things you may wish to have on hand in your freezer, fridge, and cabinets contains the following:
- Lean Meat (Beef, Bison, Chicken, Elk, Lamb)
- Fish (Cod, Salamon, trout)
- White Rice
- Red Bell Pepper
- Sweet Potatoes
- Chicken Broth
- Beef Broth
- Greek Yogurt
- Sugar-Free Soda
- Sugar-Free Pudding & Jello
- Cranberry Juice (Natural and Unsweetened)
- Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
At Lindy Health we had the majority of our weight loss clients lose over 50 plus pounds following a successful meal plan that included the above kitchen staples. This allowed them to always have something on hand that was both healthy and delicious to eat. If you are not into cooking, you can also find many of the same items at your local grocery store in their prepared foods section. We do not suggest this however as many of these prepackaged items are filled with unhealthy industrial-based seed oils.
Meal prepping is an excellent way to make sure you are eating healthy and not binging on unhealthy processed snacks when the hunger pains strike.
The majority of people who fail to follow a listed four step successful meal plan are those that try to be too strict. If you can create a diet that may not be perfect yet is repeatable daily long term, you will have a much greater likelihood of success.
The last two steps in our four step list of a successful meal plan are as follows:
Step 3: Shopping for the week’s food items
This is an important part of our list of at least four steps to a successful meal plan. Shopping at a grocery store can be tricky and we need to break bad habits to come out of our local grocery shop with a winning cart.
There has been a trend recently that suggests the following rule:
Stay on the perimeter of a grocery store!
The perimeter of a grocery store is where we can find whole and healthy food selections. The perimeter includes the produce section, butchers counter, and fresh bakery and prevents meal planners from getting absorbed by the shiny boxes laden with marketing on high caloric foods.
Studies have found that keeping junk food out of the home is one of the best ways to stay the course of any diet or meal plan. We have all been there where you purchase some chocolates or high-calorie foods thinking, “I will only have this as a treat”. Often this leads to binge eating this all at once. These high in fat/sugar foods become addictive once you start eating them and end up being a challenge to put down.
Use a Grocery Store / Meal Planning App
There are many great apps to create a great list or plan to get yourself in and out of a grocery store successfully. Our personal favorite grocery shopping list app is AnyList.
AnyList is an app that is well worth the price and has helped many people save time and money by meal planning. You can list out all of the items that you need to get before arriving at the store.
AnyList breaks down these items by category including meat, produce, bakery, household products, and more. If you have many items under snacks and frozen items you may need to reassess and realize your four step meal plan may be getting off track.
This may be a smaller step but is nonetheless an important factor in creating at least four steps in a successful meal plan.
Step 4: Prepare your meals and snacks for the week
Preparing your meals is the last and very customizable step in your successful meal planning journey. If you are short on time, many healthy and delicious meals can be made in under 30 minutes.
If you have more time on your hands, cooking larger meals to have for the week ahead can save both money and time. A bonus is that home-cooked meals tend to be healthier than take-out or restaurant meals.
You can also find a healthy medium and meal prep for the day or next few days versus an entire week.
Another trick we love is meal prepping ingredients instead of each meal. You can then mix and match premade health items to create slightly different meals throughout the week without much extra effort.
Some great prepared staples to always have on hand are:
– hard-boiled eggs
– roasted or grilled chicken breast
– White Rice
– sauteed veggies (spinach, kale, broccoli, bell peppers, etc.)
– roasted sweet potato or regular potato
With these items on hand, you can add them to other meals or even eat them alone and not go over your calorie goal or fall into bad patterns. This entire plan is about creating great meal plan habits successfully and for the long haul.
Conclusion: Four Step Successful Meal Planning
Creating a successful meal plan is not as difficult as it seems. In fact, by following four simple steps and breaking bad habits at the grocery store, you can be on your way to preparing healthy and delicious meals for yourself and your family.
As stated, remember, finding a diet that is sustainable and a meal plan you can adhere to is much more important than a perfectly optimized plan that only lasts a week.
What are your favorite types of meal plans? How far in advance do you like to prep your meals? Do you have any great tips or tricks for success at the grocery store?
Let Lindy Health know down in the comments below!