Meal Planning for Weight Loss
It may seem obvious but the first step in meal planning for weight loss is sitting down and actually making a plan. In the beginning this was almost too much for me though. It was overwhelming to sit down with a stack of cookbooks, make a list of recipes I wanted to try, take inventory, create a grocery list, shop and then finally cook. And then track everything in Cron-o-meter after all that? Especially since tracking meant I had to add all the new recipes for the week and then figure out how much I could actually eat! No way! I was the Grab-and-Go Girl after all.
So I didn’t plan well and when I did I inevitably set my goals too high and bought too many fresh fruits and vegetables…which inevitably would go bad before I had time to eat everything I bought. And to make matters worse I would end up with a grocery list a mile long with all kinds of ingredients needed to make everything I wanted to try for the week and my food budget could only be stretched so far. Sound familiar?
So taking the minimalist approach worked for me in the beginning…sticking to single ingredient foods and the basics. I lost most of my weight this way and it worked for me. But now I want to cook and that means I have to plan my meals.
The first thing I realized is that you really don’t need to eat as much food as you think you do. One of the benefits of going grain-free for me is that my body is no longer a sugar-burner. I am in fat-burning mode now and if I’m not burning fat that I eat for energy I’m burning the extra fat I have stored in my body. I reached this point after about three months of going grain-free. Once my mind got this message I realized I only needed to eat when I was actually hungry. This takes much of the pressure off when planning meals.
Other things I have realized is that 1) I don’t need to cook every single day, 2) it takes time to build a fully-stocked pantry, and 3) freezer meals are the equivalent of grab-and-go! Oh, and I finally embraced the concept of shopping often for fresh fruits and vegetables and in lesser quantities.
When I sat down this past weekend to plan meals for the week I made a list of what I plan to have for dinner as breakfast and lunch seem to take care of themselves. You’ll see how below.
Monday – Dinner Out
Tuesday – Corned Beef and Cabbage (Leftovers)
Wednesday – Salad Night
Thursday – Beef Stroganoff (Freezer Meal)
Friday – Salmon Croquettes
Saturday – Homemade Pizza
Sunday – Pork Roast
Before I break this down for you, realize that at the moment my freezer, fridge and pantries are pretty well stocked.
The first thing I list out is any meals that are away from home. Monday I had a dinner meeting so I knew I wouldn’t need to cook for that day. Then I add a leftovers night to my menu. Next I add a freezer meal or two to the plan. This week I am planning a salad night because I bought veggies from Costco…enough said! Lol! That leaves the weekend to plan for which is when I do most of my cooking. I have been wanting to make a new recipe for Salmon Croquettes so I added that to the plan. Looking at the food that I have in my refrigerator I realized I had all the ingredients to make grain-free pizza so I added that. Sunday is when I usually make a roast and because I can make this in my Instant Pot my oven is free for me to cook things for the next week.
Which brings me to breakfasts, lunches and desserts. Remember I said these meals usually take care of themselves? That’s because I have plenty of food in the freezer and fridge that I can use for these meals. I don’t really list them on my menu as I have already figured out the calorie and nutritional values when I made them originally. In my freezer I have leftover quiche muffins, banana muffins, cinnamon-pecan scones, herbed biscuits, mini cheesecakes and macadamia nut fudge. In my fridge I have the sandwich bread I made this past weekend, yogurt, cheese and bacon already cooked up. I also have food that I need to use up in the near future so throughout the week and as time permits I may use these in recipes during the week or as snacks. I have sour cream, kefir, avocados, beef broth, strawberries, oranges, bananas, broccoli and celery.
Planning meals makes it much easier to shop for groceries. This week I will buy some of the food staples I am running low on: heavy whipping cream (for my coffee), coffee, almond flour, eggs (can never have enough eggs!) and cream cheese for making Oopsie Bread!; a few things from the fruit market, maybe some meat if there are good sales, some more canned goods and a few more ingredients missing from my pantry. I keep an ongoing wish-list for my pantry and pick things up when I see things in the store and as money allows.
The bottom line is to not get overwhelmed, plan meals based on ingredients you already have, cook in bulk to save time and stock your pantry over time. And if you are just starting to stock your pantry there is always the single ingredient meal planning that worked for me in the beginning. 🙂