If you're just getting started with eating more mindfully, one of the most important things that you can do is to master the art of meal planning for beginners. While I don't recommend following overly restrictive meal plans, I do recommend flexible meal planning as an effective tool that can help you make better food choices.
Meal planning isn't about restriction, but planning your meals ahead so you ensure you're eating the foods your body needs to achieve your wellness goals.
If you're looking for an easy way to get started with meal planning, in this post I'm sharing with you my simple three-step guide to get started with meal planning as a beginner.
3 Simple Steps to Get Started With Meal Planning for Beginners
1. Decide Your Meals
It might seem obvious, but the step that people often miss with meal planning is deciding the number of meals and snacks that you will prepare for the week. This step is so important because we don't always prepare every meal that we eat. You want to be aware of those meals that you will be eating out so that the food you end up preparing doesn't go to waste.
How I recommend deciding the meals you plan to prepare for the week is:
- Look at your schedule: Pull out your planner or log into your calendar and look at what your schedule looks like for the next week. Will you be traveling, having dinner with a friend, or working late at the office? If so, that might be one less meal you have to prepare so you want to make sure you block that off on your calendar as a meal that you don't need to prepare.
- Count your meals and snacks: Now that you know what meals that you don't need to prepare, it's time to count what meals and snacks that you do need to prepare for the week.
- Decide your leftovers: I'm a huge fan of eating leftovers because it saves me time in the kitchen each week. If you or your family are not fans of leftovers that is something that you want to keep in mind when you're planning your meals.
2. Find Simple Recipes
When you're just getting started with meal planning the critical thing is to find simple recipes that you can easily prepare. By simple, I'm meaning 8 or fewer ingredients that will take you 30 minutes or less time in the kitchen to prepare.
Some of my favorite places to search for recipes are:
- Pinterest - I'm a huge fan of Pinterest because it is a search engine, like Google. Unlike Google, you're easily able to filter your search to find recipes that are based on your unique food preferences, diet, and lifestyle.
- Meatified - What I love about Meatified is that every single recipe I've ever tried, (and I've tried a lot) is simply delicious! Similar to Pinterest it has great filters that allow me to find recipes by type, diet, or ingredient.
- Autoimmune Wellness - I'll admit I'm super-biased as an Autoimmune Warrior, but I have not been disappointed by the recipes on Autoimmune Wellness. Plus, they have some great resources for those just getting started with the AIP diet.
3. Make Time to Shop
Now that you know what you're going to eat, it's time to make your grocery list and get to shopping for your ingredients. When creating your grocery list, I always recommend checking to see what you have in stock so that you can avoid buying things you don't need or not buying things that you do need.
My personal grocery shopping recommendations are:
- Trader Joe's - TJ's is hands-down my favorite grocery store of all time. Not only do they have exactly what I need, but their prices are well worth the investment of time to drive a little bit further to shop there.
- Instacart - If you're really limited on time, I highly recommend using a grocery delivery service, like Instacart. What I love about Instacart is that you're able to shop for your groceries online and schedule them to be delivered on the same day or the next day.
- Thrive Market - This requires a little pre-planning as things need to be delivered. Thrive Market is my favorite place to shop online for affordable products to stock up my pantry and home.
There you have it - my simple, three-step guide to meal planning as a beginner! Now that you've planned your meals the only thing that you have to do is prep your meals. So, make sure to book off time in your calendar to get that done and be one step closer to achieving your wellness goals!
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