The start of the new year means a fresh start to achieve those challenging resolutions. One of the most popular new year’s resolutions is weight loss. As a Registered Dietitian, I am often asked about the best weight loss diets and supplements that will yield quick results. My answer always remains the same…healthy weight loss starts with adapting a healthier lifestyle that includes increased physical activity and a nutritious variety of foods.
One of the best ways choose the right selection of nutritious foods as a part of a healthy diet is to meal plan. I’m a huge advocate of meal planning because it helps to take the stress out of deciding what to eat daily. Knowing what’s for dinner and having everything you need in your fridge, will not only help you stay on track, but it will help you save money and waste less food. It also allows you to take the time to strategically plan your meals to include wholesome foods that will help you achieve the results that you desire.
When you’re just starting out, creating a meal plan can seem frustrating and overwhelming. With so many recipes out there and hectic schedules, making an meal plan can feel impossible at times. But luckily with a little help and a few tips, creating a healthy meal plan can not only be easy, but fun! You’ll find that meal planning is one of the best things you can do to truly set yourself up to be successful.
Here are a few easy tips for creating a diet friendly meal plan.
Step 1: Evaluate Your Meal Planning Needs.
Before you start to plan out your meals, take a look at your schedule to figure out what meals you should plan for. Do you want to just plan dinner because you eat out for breakfast and lunch? Do you want to plan breakfast because your time is very limited in the morning? Take these things into consideration to determine your needs.
Another important thing to take into consideration is specific meal requests. Do you have to eat pasta every Wednesday? Do you like to eat fish once a week? Do you like seasonal recipes or classics? All of these questions can help you make easy decisions about what to include in your meal plan.
Step 2: Collect Your Recipes.
Now that you’ve evaluated your meal planning needs, it’s time to choose the recipes that you want to eat during the week. To help keep things stress-free, I recommend to start by using familiar recipes that you know you will enjoy. This can be your favorite low-cal spaghetti dish, your favorite grilled chicken recipe, or a tasty turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread. Start with the recipes you know you want to make.
Once you’ve included those recipes, it’s time to venture out and add a few new recipes to your list. There are tons of healthy, nutritious recipes located in some of your favorite magazines, cookbooks and recipe blogs. Choose meals that fit your needs and your lifestyle.
Step 3: Organize Your Meals and Create a Shopping List.
The last step includes organizing your meals on your weekly calendar and making a shopping list. Check out each recipe and view the ingredients to see exactly what you need to purchase. Make sure to check to see if you already have any of those ingredients on hand before adding them to your list, and adjust the recipes, if needed, for the number of servings you need plus any leftovers. Also be sure to add to add those miscellaneous items to your list such as snacks and beverages. I like to keep nuts and low-fat cheese on hand for snack, and I like to make sure that I keep a stash of Southern Breeze Sweet Tea on hand as my beverage of choice. I love Southern Breeze because it’s made with real black tea leaves and it has a zero-calorie sweetener already added in the tea bag.
To help you get started on the right track, here is an example of an easy 7-Day Healthy Dinner Meal Plan.These meals are nutritious and will take less than 30 minutes to prepare.
This Garlicky Sesame Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini & Butternut Squash Noodlesrecipe is the perfect healthy weeknight meal! Each bite is filled with so much delicious flavor and wholesome goodness!
These Cranberry Pecan Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes are perfect for a quick, healthy weeknight dinner or hearty side dish!
This Creamy One-Pot Garlicky Salmon & Asparagus is definitely the best salmon recipe that you will ever taste! It’s low-carb and low in fat and cholesterol!
If you’re short on time, this Sheet Pan Teriyaki Ginger Sesame Chicken & Broccoli is the perfect dinner solution and takes less than 25 minutes to make!
Who doesn’t love an easy, delicious, and nutritious meal?? This 20 Minute Spinach Farfalle Pasta Carbonarais the perfect meal for a quick weeknight dinner!
These Cheesy Southwestern Chicken & Rice Stuffed Peppers are so easy to make and will quickly become a fan-favorite!
Are you looking for an easy, healthy meal that the whole family will enjoy? Try this Marinated Chicken & Basil Whole Wheat Greek Pasta dish! It’s also perfect for meal prep and only 319 calories per serving!
10 'Meal Planning' Tips for People Who Hate Planning. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2018-06-25/10-meal-planning-tips-for-people-who-hate-planning
Healthy Recipes & A Touch of DIY Flair. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.beautifuleatsandthings.com/
Andrea Mathis, MA, RDN, LD is an Alabama-based Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and owner of the healthy food blog, Beautiful Eats & Things. After completing her graduate studies at the University of Alabama, Andrea worked in several different healthcare settings including clinical, public health, and long-term care. Andrea believes in achieving optimal health by incorporating healthier eating habits into your lifestyle and making healthy eating fun! When she’s not running after her two toddlers, she’s going on exciting foodie adventures with her husband!