You want to eat healthy. You can tell the difference in the energy you have to do the work to build the dreams you have for your life when you fill up on crap vs. when you give your body the fuel it needs to run to it’s full potential. But the challenge you have right now is finding a meal plan that you can actually stick to help you do this.
You’ve tried a lot of things, and my guess is that you’ve dealt with one of these scenarios:
- you’ve looked to other people to make the meal plans for you but it all looks like french when it comes time for you to use it
- when you decide to take your meal planning into your own hands, you don’t even know where to begin
- or when you do try your hand at planning your meals, you find yourself still scrambling especially when you’re in no mood for what you had planned
I feel you! I’ve been there. First, when I first started my journey to lose weight and more recently after I had my son and was hit with the reality of juggling my full time job, my business, and caring for a growing human.
As someone who’s successfully navigated the confusion of meal planning, I can tell you that it’s possible to:
- wake up in the morning thinking about what’s on tap for you that day and not worrying about what a healthy breakfast should be,
- walk into your kitchen knowing what your next meal is and knowing that you have everything you need to put it together,
- feel confident that your meal plan is flexible enough to allow you to move things around if your mood changes when it comes time to eat,
And I’m about to give you what you need to make it happen for you. It’s a simple process that I’ll layout in 6 steps.
- Have a simple system to stock your pantry with healthy food
- Choose 2 – 3 go-to breakfasts
- Come up with 3 – 7 dinner ideas that make great leftovers
- Choose 3 healthy snacks for when you need a bit of a boost
- Vet your ideas to make sure they’re your version of healthy
- Build your meal plan from there
1: Have a simple system to stock your pantry with healthy food
Fueling your body and your goals starts with having healthy foods that you can grab or prep on the fly to give you the fuel you need.
If you’re not a meal planner and you just need to make sure you have healthy food around the house that you can grab or prep and go, this is the only step you really have to do.
Another goal of having a simple system of restocking your pantry is to make it easy for you to do it in a repeatable way. Using the same method every week will help you cut down the time you spend at the grocery store because you know what you typically get.
And you can spend that time you save working on something epic to bring to bring your dreams to life.
With my book, Weight Loss for High Achievers, you’ll get access to a simple Shopping List Template that you can use every week. And I also show you how to avoid the two areas you might struggle with when using this template to make sure you have enough healthy food—getting enough veggies and stocking up on the right carbs.
Regardless of the system you choose, you want to make it easy for you to make your list, get to the store, and get back to work on the core tasks that’ll help you fuel your dreams every day.
2: Choose 2 – 3 go-to breakfasts
Breakfast is one of the trickiest meals of the day. It’s either you’re in a rush to get your day started or you’re not hungry when you wake up and you don’t make any plans for breakfast only to find yourself starving in the middle of an important sales call distracted and trying HARD not to be hangry.
It’s no fun.
Having go-to breakfasts can simplify your life for the mere reason that you don’t have to wake up worrying about what to eat in the morning. You can grab it before your busy day starts, or steadily remind yourself that breakfast is ready and waiting once your sales call is over.
It’ll be ideal for you to have your breakfast (especially weekday breakfasts) prepared and in the fridge ready to reheat. But if that’s not practical for you, at least know what you’re having so you can put it together on the fly.
My favorite go-to weekday breakfast is a bowl of oatmeal with berries, flaxseeds and two microwaved eggs. I make it and portion it out in individual mason jars on the weekend and just put it together before I head out the door in the morning.
The only guidelines here are the breakfasts you choose should be a good fit for your lifestyle and your choices should be healthy of course. The healthiest breakfast in the world won’t work for you if you’ve got a million complicated steps and you have an early day scheduled.
3: Come up with 3 – 7 dinner ideas that make great leftovers
Lunch is another tricky meal because it’s tough to step away from the computer to heat up a meal, and it’s almost impossible to say you’re making time to cook it from scratch in the afternoon.
That’s why in this system lunch starts with dinner. Dinner’s leftovers I mean.
I’m a big fan of choosing dinner ideas that hold up as good leftovers. You’ll have lunch ready and waiting to be reheated when you need it. And you can confidently work right up till you get hungry.
The beauty of this is that it cuts down on the number of meal ideas you need to come up with or healthy recipes that you need to find. I used 15 recipes for the last 2 months of meal planning without getting bored. It’s a game changer!!!
And I always suggest that my clients exercise the freedom to play around with their meal plan during the week i.e. don’t be rigid about eating Monday’s dinner on Monday; you might be in the mood for Thursday’s planned dinner instead.
For example, sometimes I eat Monday’s dinner (usually Pork meatballs with roasted plantains and steamed veggies) on Sunday because those ripe plantains are calling my name!
It’s your meal plan, and this is where you get to be flexible and enjoy it.
P.S. You only need 7 ideas if you want something different every day of the week (like my husband does, 😊). If you don’t need the variety, you can rotate 4 meals during the week to where you’re not repeating a dinner two nights in a row so you don’t eat the same lunch and dinner on the same day.
4: Choose 3 healthy snacks for when you need a bit of a boost
Crushing goals takes some hardcore brain work! Your brain just sucks up all that glucose and demands more. This is why the mid-morning coffee run and the 3 pm slump are all too familiar to us female entrepreneurs. To avoid this, you might need to snack between meals.
This is where your healthy snacks play a role. One of the simplest hacks you can make is choosing non-starchy Vegetables & Fruits over processed snacks when you’re hungry between meals. Doing this gives you the boost without adding excess calories to your eating pattern and pounds to your waistline.
Choosing the simplest and healthiest things you can to tide you over to your next main meal will make a big difference.
5: Vet your ideas to make sure they’re your version of healthy
You’ll need to vet the meal ideas in your meal plan to how you choose to eat. It’s the only way to sure your meal plan is helping you eat healthy in a way that makes you feel great, and also gives you the energy you need to drive towards the goals you’re working towards.
This is also a great place to update your shopping list to make sure you have all the ingredients you need to make your meal plan happen.
My clients and I use a system I created called VAFs®. It’s a mental model that teaches you the four food types that’ll help you eat healthy in a way that supports weight loss and doesn’t compromise your energy and you can learn all about it in Weight Loss for High Achievers.
Regardless of whether you use VAFs® or not, your goal with vetting your meal is to make sure that the plan will actually help you achieve your goal. So if your goal is to eat low-carb, vet that your plan actually helps you do this.
6: Build your meal plan from there
Once you’ve completed Step 4, all you have to do is plug the right meals in the right places—put your breakfast ideas under breakfast and so on…and make sure your shopping list has all the ingredients to make your meal plan happen.
This will give you the beginnings of a meal plan that help you know what to eat to fuel your life! You’ll take one more step to cross your t’s and dot your i’s.
It’s time to take action
The one thing I want you to take away from this is the fact that your meal plan only needs to be as complicated as it needs to be. It IS possible to wake up focused on the dragons you need to slay to be the force you want it to be in the world instead of worrying about what’s for breakfast.
The key is having a simple system around which to plan your meals to fuel your body for success. For me and my clients, the ultimate goal is to make sure each meal plan has the four puzzle pieces of healthy eating (aka VAFs) on lock.
Once we do that, we focus on eating to the plan even if that means moving things around during the week to satisfy our moods.
If you don’t have a system yet, I suggest you start with VAFs. It’s a simple mental model to help you remember what should be in your healthy meals and how to put them together. And once you know the basics of it you’ll:
- know exactly what to use to vet your meal plans to make sure they have what you need,
- and know how to order from a menu on the fly if you choose to eat out a few days a week instead of cooking at home.
You’ll have a simple system that’ll help you feel confident that you’re fueling your body to look great, feel great, and to drive your beautiful dreams forward!
P.S. Want to get an entire system that’ll help you lose weight without dieting? Then check out my book Weight Loss for High Achievers. Chapter 5 of the book has even more tools to help you plan your meals to fuel your epic life. Get your copy now.
Originally Published: May 2017; Updated: June 2018