Many of my individual clients, as well as those in my online groups and programs, tell me they truly have “no idea how much, or what to eat when giving up on dieting.” The “safety” in the strict rules of dieting made each meal straightforward. That’s where meal planning comes in!
When practicing intuitive eating, we make room for new foods that are satisfying and delicious, as well as nutritious. And, while it is sometimes easier to just nuke a frozen meal or have cereal for dinner, from an intuitive eating standpoint, when you have more satisfying meals, you will notice feeling better in mind and body.
How about trying some meal planning? Meal planning is a great way to save money and time. Having a sense of what and how much to prepare can also reduce the anxiety of knowing what to eat at mealtimes. For ease, we will review planning 3 SIMPLE dinner meals for 1 – 2 people in a household.
Meal planning in five simple steps:
- Make a list of your standard meals. Start by making a list of all the meals you can think of in your current dinner rotation. Believe it or not, most people eat the same 3-5 dishes. Consider learning to cook one new meal per week (or month) to add to this rotation. You always have the option to prepare a large portion and freeze some for a future meal.
- Use some type of meal planner. You can either use a whiteboard, a blank calendar, a bullet journal, or whatever is the best method for you. I use a meal planning template.
- Decide how many meals you will prepare. Look at your week in total; block off days in the week when you will not be home for a meal. I usually start with three meals for my weeknights, planning to have some left-overs for lunches. My weekends come after I have mastered the weekdays.
- Explore recipes. Use your imagination for quick and easy meals. You can use Pinterest for ideas. In fact, I have a few Pinterest boards you might want to peruse: Quick Dinners; Easy Recipes; Recipes for Recovery. There are also some great websites such as allrecipes.com, or some dusty cookbooks on your shelf which can give you some additional ideas.
- Create a shopping list. Now that you have decided on your meals, and which nights you will be cooking, it will be time to create a shopping list. Make sure to peruse your pantry, refrigerator and freezer to see what you have on hand already!
Here are the meals I planned this week and the groceries I shopped for based on this meal pattern. As an aside, I usually prepare a large salad on Mondays – enough for the week – and put them into either mason jars or zip lock bags. More on lunches, salads, cooking for families, and additional meal planning strategies in my next newsletter!
Here is my Dinner Schedule:
Monday: Dinner 1 – Chicken Parmesan (Prepared on Monday)
Tuesday: Dinner 2 – Chicken Pasta Primavera (used left-overs from chicken)
Wednesday: Veggie or Turkey Burger on bun
Thursday: Dinner 3 – Veggie Tofu Stir-fry
Friday: Leftovers/Dinner out
3 Dinners I made this week:
- Chicken (found a great sale: buy one-get one free)
- Cooked chicken for later in the week
- Mozzarella cheese
- Fresh veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, peppers
Items I had in pantry, refrigerator and freezer:
Tomato sauce, bread crumbs, oil, eggs, avocado, frozen vegetables, onions, tomatoes, teriyaki sauce, rice
Here is what my shopping list looked like:
As an aside, I have been experimenting with the idea of meal planning to help my clients learn to make peace with food. It can be very rewarding to expand your repertoire of foods to offer more variety and balance in an eating plan. As a registered dietitian, I am now offering a meal planning service where I can professionally design meal ideas that fit you and your family’s lifestyle and circumstances.
These are suggestions, rather than absolutes, and the meal ideas are not for weight loss purposes. They are for learning and getting creative with foods. Shoot me an email if you would like more information on my meal planning service.
If you would like even more support you can learn on your own, my Nutritional Guidance Program offers you all sorts of added training videos and lessons to give you even more support for your journey from disordered eating to intuitive eating. The fee for this program is only $19 and has 7 modules filled with lots of lessons to help you make peace with food.
Don’t get trapped in the diet culture world. You can start to feel freer around food and appreciate your body for all that it does, regardless of its size or shape. Learn about health at every size and start today. You CAN change your life!
Erica Leon is a Registered Dietitian and practices from a Health at Every Size (HAES®) lens. She is certified as an eating disorder specialist and is passionate about helping women at midlife, menopause and beyond to make peace with food and body image.
Erica is a highly sensitive nutrition therapist who takes the time to learn where you or your family are in the pursuit of health. Respectful of your individual needs and lifestyle, she will provide an honest assessment of whether or not you are a good fit to work together. Click here to schedule a 15-minute Discovery Call with Erica to let us know about your needs, and to see which of our Dietitians is the best fit for you!
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