*UPDATE* Meal Planning for the Week

It has been a little over a week from when I started my meal planning. I want to share what I learned from this first week, problems I encountered and what I will do differently.

It started out very well. I didn’t stop to buy food or run down to the convenience store. It was nice to know that I already had these premade meals waiting for me. However, my biggest problem was that I didn’t allot enough food for myself. I thought the salmon with avocado salsa would be enough for lunch but when I brought it to work for lunch and felt hungry afterwards, I counted the calories and realized it was less than 200 calories. My breakfast had also been only 200 calories. So then I was way too starved to workout when I got home from work and instead ate dinner and then ate a bunch of peanut butter. Like a bunchhh of peanut butter {peanut butter is a total addiction for me}.

I also made a tomato salad recipe that had 4 or 5 servings. I made it on Friday or Saturday I think, but I set my meals up so that I didn’t end up eating the last serving of it until the following Wednesday or Thursday. It was gross by then and I threw it away.  But counting calories-wise, it really didn’t matter because the tomato salad hardly had any and on the days where I ate that as a side, I again was very very hungry. Needless to say, I ate a LOT of peanut butter at night last week. Luckily, I had a peanut butter surplus. But I am out now.

I am going home to MI in 3 days for Christmas {yay yay yay yay yayyyyyyy}, so I only planned about 4 days of food this week. But this time, I focused more on food that I know I like and I know fills me up. It is kind of boring, but easy stuff like eggs, almonds, apples, spaghetti, soup and oatmeal are staples this week. Two hard-boiled eggs, almonds, and an apple with cheese fills me up a lot more than salmon with avocado salsa or 1/5 of a chicken with brown rice recipe. I think meal planning can be fun, but a beginner like me needs to shy away from the recipes I’m unfamiliar with because bad things happen when I am starved. I don’t work out, I pig out at night, … well those are the only two I can think of.

But anyway, the lesson is: make sure you know how many calories you are Actually allotting for each meal and each day – make sure it’s enough so that you don’t want to pig out later!  Make sure you have enough to make everything you want to make {I thought I had more ground turkey than I actually had and ended up not being able to make one of the meals I planned on making}. Try to avoid making food with raw fruit or veggies that will sit in the fridge for more than 3 days or so.

New Healthiness Plan – Meal Planning 101

About a month ago I found out that I had high blood sugar. After a fasting test, my glucose level was 114 which is higher than it should be. Diabetes runs in my family, so receiving this news REALLY freaked me out. Everything else was in the healthy range, I workout regularly, and I’m not overweight, but still. High blood sugar is not good!

For two weeks after I found that news out, I cut sugar out of my diet completely. I don’t have a scale but I lost at least five pounds, I’d guess. Before I learned my blood sugar was high, I ate a TON of sugar. WAY more than the average person, and I know my friends would vouch for that. So, cutting it out completely for two weeks made a huge difference.

Then, a friend came to stay with me and brought all sorts of delicious, sugary snacks with her. I held off for the first few days but then once the booze started flowing, so did the sugar, and I haven’t been able to get back on track since. After the last couple days of unhealthiness, Today I have decided that I WILL be healthy. I live by myself and I work 9-5, 40 hours a week. I really wanted to do meal planning for the entire week because I’ve seen so many magazines, news articles, and experts say that meal planning is the all around best thing to do. It saves you money and allows you to have healthy meals already planned out and/or made so you won’t eat other things.

However, I tried doing it a while back but was completely discouraged because the idea of planning every meal out seemed totally impossible. How will I know what I’m in the mood for in the middle of next week? Won’t the food go bad? How will I know how much to buy? What meals do I want? And I just sat there trying to think of meals I could make, but nothing came to mind besides spaghetti and chili, which I make all the time. So I quit.

But now that I’ve had this idea in my mind for a couple of weeks, it is starting to seem easier. I’m going to do it. I’m going to grocery shop after work today and try to get enough stuff to make 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners, 7 snacks. I’d like to eat 1300-1700 calories per day.

To do this, I am going through my Pinterest “Healthiness” board and making a list of each food that I could actually make without having to buy like 20 expensive, rare ingredients. Here is what I’ve come up with:

{Click the picture for the link}

Breakfast, Snack, part of work lunch.

Healthy, Sugar-Free Oatmeal Cookies. Breakfast, Snack, part of work lunch.

Dinner or weekend lunch. Will use whole wheat tortillas and alter ingredients a little.

Cheeseburger Wraps. Dinner or weekend lunch. Will use whole wheat tortillas and alter ingredients a little.

Strawberry cream cheese sandwiches. Breakfast, Lunch, or snack.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Sandwiches. Breakfast, Lunch, or snack.

No-Sugar Peanut Better Cookies. Breakfast, part of Lunch, Snack.

No-Sugar Peanut Better Cookies. Breakfast, part of Lunch, or Snack.

Zucchini Lasagna. Lunch or Dinner.

Zucchini Lasagna. Lunch or Dinner.

"Biggest Loser Salad." Lunch, Dinner, Snack.

“Biggest Loser Salad.” Lunch, Dinner, Snack. Recipe is a little off but easily changeable.

Avocado Lime Salmon. Lunch {maybe?} or Dinner.

Avocado Lime Salmon. Lunch {maybe?} or Dinner.

"One Pot Pasta." Lunch or Dinner. Will use whole wheat noodles of course.

“One Pot Pasta.” Lunch or Dinner. Will use whole wheat noodles of course.

Chicken and Brown Rice. Lunch or Dinner. This is a one-pot meal by Marta Stewart so I know it'll be tasty.

Chicken and Brown Rice. Lunch or Dinner. This is a one-pot meal by Marta Stewart so I know it’ll be tasty, as is the picture above.

Healthy Fruit Dip. Breakfast, Lunch, or Snack.

Healthy Fruit Dip. Breakfast, Lunch, or Snack.

So I wrote down the list of all the recipes that would work, then went through and wrote down the ingredients that I would need to buy next to each recipe.  Also write down how many servings the recipe makes and the calorie count if the site tells you that. This well help you decide how many dinners/lunches/breakfasts you can count the meal for. As for calories, I like my breakfasts to be 300-400, lunches to be 350-500, dinners to be 400-600 and snacks 100-300. I save the snacks till after work since that is when I’m most likely to pig out. My fiance would tell me it is bad to eat all your calories at night. However, in my opinion, if you are eating 1300-1700 calories a day, as long as they are somewhat spaced out throughout the day it really isn’t a big deal when you eat what.

Also, at this point you can look over your different recipes and if something contains way too many ingredients that you don’t have, you can scratch that recipe off your list and find one, more suitable, recipe.

Now that I have made the list of foods and ingredients I need, I can start with the planning. Next to each item you’re planning on making, write how many servings you will make. For example, if I buy one carton of strawberries and one pack of Neufchatel cheese, I’m estimating I can make 5 sandwiches. The fruit dip says it makes 4 servings, but I’m going to eat more than 2 TBSP of it at a time, so I’ll count that as 2 servings instead of four. Know how much you’re going to eat, consider calories, and stick to it.

So now you know what you’ll be having. The next step is to label what you will use each for. I’m going to use the Zucchini Lasagna for 2 dinners and 2 lunches, so I’m going to cross off 2 dinners and 2 lunches in my chart. The timing of the meals doesn’t matter as much because nothing will go bad in this amount of time {most likely}. Just don’t do something crazy like make a full plate of fruit dip with cut up fruit on Friday night and plan on using it the following Thursday.

The other thing to consider is calories. If you plan to have strawberry cream cheese sandwiches for lunch two days, make sure you remember that they are only about 130 calories so you need something else as well.

Here is a picture of my {messy} planning.

Food Planning

Food Planning

Food Planning

Food Planning

 

First I have my list of foods with ingredients that I don’t have. Then, below that I have written down the food I already have that won’t be used for these recipes – things I can add to meals if they aren’t enough calories. I’ve written how many servings will come out of each recipe as well. On the other paper, I wrote down each day and next to each meal, put what I will eat. Once there is enough calories, I put a little line through the meal. The order doesn’t matter, it just matters that you have planned enough food for each day.

Make your grocery shopping list from the ingredients you need for the recipes {duh}. Once your list is made, you can search for coupons! Or you could look at deals first and then find recipes for whatever is on sale.

I’ve never done this before so I hope I don’t end up making something tonight that isn’t freezable and then I don’t eat it till the end of next week and it goes bad. I’m kind of just estimating on calories for some of the recipes so if I’m wrong I could be a little hungry. Or I could hate one of the dishes… that would be bad too! I could get to the store and strawberries are like $10 a piece {exaggeration but you get the picture}. But I am excited! I think having this OCD plan will make me less likely to stray and pig out and spend more money than necessary.

I’m going to transfer this Meal Guide that I made myself to a dry erase board craft that I plan to make 🙂

I will be sure to share my progress with this experiment!

Final Product: Cross off the meals you’ve eaten

Meal Checklist

Meal Checklist