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Confused About Meal Planning?

Confused About Meal Planning?

meal planning calendar

If the term “meal planning” conjures images of hours spent chopping, prepping and packing meals for your week, you aren’t alone. Just the idea of planning out what you’ll eat for a whole week (let alone an entire month) can feel overwhelming. What if you don’t really want grilled chicken (again) on Tuesday? Or what if you forget to thaw the ground beef for tacos?

For anyone interested in eating healthier and especially for people with diabetes, high blood pressure or other chronic conditions, it’s important to have some idea of what you’ll eat for each meal of your day so you don’t end up eating another bowl of sugary cereal because you didn’t have something to eat in the house. It doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t change your mind.

Meal planning is as much about what’s on your plate as it is making sure you have the right ingredients and plenty of time to cook it. Try implementing just one of these tips to make your meal planning easier.

Look at Your Calendar First

Some nights lend themselves to cooking more than other nights. If you know you’ll be home later one night, plan for a quick meal or leftovers. Plan to eat out one night? Check out the restaurant’s menu online and choose your meal based on your dietary needs. Take into consideration who will eat with you each night and their preferences as well.

Choose Your Meals

Most of us have a few go-to meals. If yours don’t meet the guidelines for your specific diet, look at ways to rework the recipe or search for similar recipes online. For instance, bake or grill those chicken strips instead of frying them. Use ground turkey meat in your chili for a lower-fat recipe. Substitute a baked sweet potato with a small amount of butter or margarine for a white potato.

Don’t forget your side items. In addition to a plate that includes ¼ protein and ¼ carbohydrates, you’ll need to fill ½ of your plate with vegetables.

If you can bring foods from home for lunch, try cooking more of your recipe to ensure leftovers and make creating a healthy lunch plate easier than ever. For breakfast, prepare your meal ahead of time or consider a healthy breakfast protein shake to consume the nutrients you need in a timeframe that doesn’t require waking up an hour early.

Create a Shopping List

The key to successful meal planning is making it easy to follow. If you already have all the ingredients you need for a healthy meal, you’re more likely to cook what you planned. That means grocery shopping with a list of what you’ll need for each recipe you chose above. Lucky for you, many stores like Kroger and some Walmart stores offer online orders for groceries. You can put all your items into your online cart, check out and pick up your groceries ready to go.

Finally, Be Flexible

Keep a few quick meal ideas in your freezer or pantry for those nights when nothing seems to go right. A can of tuna or shredded chicken combined with raw baby carrots or celery sticks and a few crackers can fill the gap for the big meal that didn’t happen because your oven element burned out.

If you need help with exactly what types of foods to put on your plate, check out these diabetes-friendly recipes and make an appointment with one of our providers to discuss your diet and whether or not a nutritionist could help.

 

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