If you are feeling frustrated in your journey to weight loss and having a hard time maintaining what you do lose, the one habit you need to start implementing right now is meal planning and meal prepping.
Why is meal planning so beneficial? You wake up with a limited amount of willpower every day.
Your willpower is tested every time you have to make a food-based decision.
The average person makes 200 food-based decisions a day.
That’s a lot of time given to how much you should eat, where, when, etc.
Planning your week’s meals ahead of time saves you some of that time and willpower.
Another aspect of meal planning that helps you save your willpower and create a sense of peace around your weight loss is the fact that it creates a routine for your meals.
Our brains like routine; they crave it.
In fact, eating the same breakfast and lunch everyday can really help you lose weight.
However, meal planning can be overwhelming at first if you’ve never really done it.
So here are a few tips to make meal planning easier:
- Start with your hardest meal: Most people already know what they’ll eat for breakfast and lunch because it tends to be the same every day.
These meals typically occur during the busiest time in the day so our brain is already taxed with many decisions so it chooses the easiest path (routine). Choose the meal you struggle with the most because you’re tired, busy, or cooking for more than one person. This’ll likely be dinner. Write out what you’ll have for dinner everyday for a week and shop accordingly.
This way you’ll know exactly what ingredients you’ll need and know that you already have them in your kitchen. There’s nothing worse than deciding on a meal only to find out that you’re missing key ingredients to make it.
- Choose meals with common ingredients: Choose a key ingredient to build your meals around so that you can cook more of fewer ingredients and save time.
For example, find four recipes that use lentils (such as lentil soup, lentil loaf, lentil salad, etc.).
These recipes will most likely share other ingredients such as celery, onions, and carrots as well and since you’ll already be cutting and cooking these ingredients, it’ll come down to how they are combined.
- Get comfortable with leftovers: Make meals that you can enjoy for dinner more than one night or that you’d be okay eating for dinner one day and lunch another. Remember, your brain likes routine so having lentil loaf two nights in a row would actually give you a sense of peace.
- Cook in bulk: Cook foods that last well in the fridge and reheat well so that if you don’t use them in a specific recipe, you can easily put together an easy meal.
Some good foods for bulk cooking are: quinoa, lentils, and hearty vegetables such as squash, eggplant, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and brussels sprouts all hold up really well.
Add freshly vegan meats and a salad and you’re good to go.
Most importantly, when it comes to meal planning and meal prepping remember to K.I.S.S (keep it simple, silly) and build up to a full week of meal planning for every meal. The more you plan ahead, the more you can focus on the other things that matter without compromising your health.