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Meal planning! Ok- how many times have you heard that this is an important tool for your health and well-being? Planning saves me so much time, money,

I have a pretty regular grocery day. For me, it is Friday. I have the day off so this is the day that I have to think about food. Have I told you before that I love food? So I am actually thinking about it all the time. But on Friday, I get to think about what I want to eat for the coming week.

I try to make things easier on myself by eating a very simple breakfast every day (usually homemade 24-hour yogurt, a Ba-Egg, or a smoothie).

I keep lunches simple too. I try to make enough dinner that I have leftovers for lunch the next day. This doesn’t always work- sometimes I don’t make enough. Sometimes I just don’t want to eat leftovers. So I always keep tuna, sardines, hard boiled eggs, some smoked or canned salmon on hand. Sometimes I will grill some chicken breast or steak and have this ready for lunch.

seasonal vegetables

I buy a variety of vegetables that we like to eat raw- carrots, celery, snap peas, beets (I love those little packages of Love Beets), cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and bell peppers. This makes a very easy to throw together lunch: some kind of protein and a big bag full of vegetables.

My actual planning and cooking energy is spent on dinner. And I know that I am likely to eat out away from home at least once a week, so I typically plan and shop for 6 dinners a week.

I have a lot of cookbooks with beautiful pictures. I have some favorite recipe blogs and follow some of these bloggers on Instagram. So, on Friday, with my coffee in hand, I search for beautiful pictures of food that I want to eat.

I also have my “go-to” meals. Dinners I can make without a recipe, that take very little brain power for me to make. An example of this for me is baked spaghetti squash with ground beef and tomato sauce- sometimes I’ll throw in some mushrooms and spinach or whatever veggies I have in the fridge. Or I can always grill a burger and make a salad. If I know one night in my week is going to be chaotic, I pick one of these super simple meals.

I have parameters, of course. For me, recipes have to fit into my chosen diet plan (specific carbohydrate diet) and they have to be quick (recipes that take 30 minutes or less to prepare). Like you, I don’t want to spend all night every night in the kitchen. Plus, when I am ready to eat dinner, I am hungry!

So, I peruse my cookbooks and websites and Instagram. I look at the family calendar and see what we all have going on. Then, I plan accordingly.

When I find something I want to make, I jot down the name of the recipe on a sheet of paper and next to it, I write where I got it. For example, if I want to make Bobbi’s Brisket from my website, I will write Bobbi’s Brisket and in parentheses next to it, write “w3drk” my shorthand for www.drklearman.com. This is so I can easily remember where I got the recipe and know how to access it when I am ready to cook.

On the back of that piece of paper, I start a grocery list. I write down all the ingredients in that recipe. Then, continue to the next recipe and repeat until I have my six dinner recipes on one side of the paper and my grocery list on the other.

Then, I take stock of my kitchen. What on my grocery list do I already have? Do I have that can of diced tomatoes, enough cumin, and those frozen chicken thighs? Yes? Then I cross them off my grocery list. Need more olive oil, cashews, and lettuce? Great- I won’t forget with my list in hand at the store!

Weekly meal plan
When I get home from the store, I prepare all of my fresh, raw vegetables for lunch and snacks and put them into a large glass tupperware. I wash my fruits and put what I can store at room temperature on the counter for easy grabbing. I try to make the fruits and vegetables visible – they look so pretty sitting there in plain view, maybe if you can see them better you are more likely to eat them. This is definitely true in my house!

I usually loosely assign each of my dinner meal ideas a day of the week that I will be eating them. That way, I can make sure my meat is defrosted in advance, and, when I get home from work I have no decisions to make. I already know what I am going to cook, my ingredients are all available, and I don’t have any stress at all about how to feed myself or my family.

Bad food choice

I have found that we all tend to make poor choices with our food intake when we are deciding what to eat on-the-fly. When we are hungry, tired, and rushed, we are going to opt for foods that are quick and almost always, not healthy.

Cooking food actually takes time. And that is not a bad thing. Food should NOT be fast. Food is literally our source of nourishment, and when we don’t get that proper nutrition, we really do suffer in so many ways.

Planning and preparing meals in advance is actually a huge time saver! It takes me about an hour to plan for the week, which is much less time consuming than trying to come up with something to cook on my way home, when I am already tired and hungry. Planning is even less effort than a stop at the store, or figuring out what everyone wants and where to order food. While these scenarios may seem like less effort than planning and cooking, it easily takes just as long trying to figure out what to eat as it would have taken me to cook a whole, healthy meal that I have planned in advance.

Truthfully, planning my menu is also good for my mental health. I feel so much better, physically and mentally, eating the foods that I want to be eating, cooking a healthy meal, and providing both myself and my family with nourishing meals that are made from scratch and with lots of love. Self-care is self-love and it feels so good!

I know that meal planning feels like a chore. Sometimes, even surrounded by gorgeous food photos, I feel overwhelmed and like nothing sounds good. Ask you family or friends for recipe ideas, keep things super simple (a protein and a vegetable makes a great meal), and just do your best. And remember that this is the way to help yourself stay on track with healthy eating, and even when it feels tedious, you are becoming the healthy person you want to be.

Call me today to if you have any questions regarding meal planning or to schedule your appointment today and let me help!


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