If you are trying to get healthier by eating better and working out regularly, meal planning is a great way to get started. It helps you come up with balanced meals for you and your family, and makes grocery shopping more convenient. With a structured list in hand and meals in mind, you won't be grabbing extra items you don't need and that might not be good for you. Here are some easy tips for healthier meal planning.
Consider the Grocery Store Layout
In order to eat healthier, you need to start with the basics. When you are starting to come up with different meals and snacks, consider the layout of your nearby grocery store. Try to make the majority of your meals focus on the perimeter of the store. This is where you will find all the food that is good for you. In most grocery stores, the perimeter of the store contains all of the produce, including fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds.
The perimeter also includes the deli, where you can get freshly-sliced sandwich meat and cheese, instead of purchasing it processed. You will find the meat and seafood section near the back most likely, and you might also find dairy in the perimeter section. Try to avoid all the middle aisles as much as possible, as that is where the snacks, soft drinks, and frozen food aisles are.
Organize Your Shopping List
When you have come up with some good meals for the next week or so, work on your shopping list. Keeping it organized is going to help you select only the foods you need for your meals and snacks, without trying to grab extra items. It is also a good idea to separate it based on aisles so you don't accidentally forget anything. The last thing you want to do is forget a few pivotal items for a meal and drive through the closest fast food joint instead.
Schedule All Meals and Snacks
To help your family stick to the meal planning agenda, write down all meals, snacks, and treats and schedule them the best you can. While you might decide to have pasta one night instead of the chicken you planned, at least write everything down and put it somewhere your family can find it. It will be much easier to stick to your original meal plan with a set schedule. Also, consider using leftovers for lunches and plan out extra little snacks as rewards.
Plan Foods for Workout Days
If you intend to add more exercise to your daily routine, also plan out foods for your workout days. You need to fuel your body and recharge when you start exercising more, so your piece of fruit in the morning probably won't do. For workouts, try to eat something with protein and complex carbohydrates before your workout, such as sliced banana with peanut butter, or a smoothie with almond milk, fruits, and whey protein. After your workout, try a piece of protein with vegetables, such as salmon with steamed broccoli, or a cheese and veggie omelette.
For more information on healthy eating and successful meal planning, contact nutrition experts and professionals, like those at Colorado Nutrition for Health Fitness & Performance.