Five Easy Ways to Make Meal Planning Simple
By Beth Taschuk, RD LD
Meal planning often times is an afterthought, on your way home from work or on your way to a soccer game? One crucial skill to support your success after weight loss surgery is meal planning.
1. Make a grocery list and stick to it.
Planning meals for the entire week will help you to save time and money. It will also give you more control when you are in the store to avoid impulse shopping. Sit down with a weekly calendar. Use fresh meats and produce for meals at the beginning of the week and canned/frozen foods for the end of the week.
2. Keep staples in your home.
Canned beans are rich in protein and fiber. These include refried beans, black beans, kidney beans, chili beans, chickpeas, etc. They can be added to eggs, salads, and whole grain tortillas. Hummus, a bean paste, can be used with vegetables or baked pita.
Eggs are rich in protein and can be prepared hard boiled to add to salads. Try making an omelet for breakfast or even dinner.
Frozen chicken can be thawed and added to salad, tacos, stir-fry, and fajitas. Try mesquite flavored chicken strips.
Ground sirloin can be used to make hamburger patties, chili, meatloaf, and stuffed green peppers.
Frozen vegetables with no added sugar, salt or sauce should be in our freezer. It is a handy source of vitamins, minerals and fiber.
3. Prepare in advance.
Take frozen meat or chicken out of the freezer the night before you plan to use it. Thaw in the refrigerator.
Wash and cut produce immediately when you arrive home from the store. Place produce in airtight containers to keep it fresh longer.
4. Think leftovers.
What you prepare for dinner may be used the following day for lunch. If you are making chicken breast for dinner, make extra chicken and dice it up for a healthy chicken salad the next day. Or, simply add diced chicken to mixed greens with low fat feta cheese, a few Greek or calamata olives, and flavored vinegar.
5. Keep it simple.
Plan easy meals for the nights that you are busy. Crock-pot cooking, bagged salad and vegetables, and frozen entrees will ensure healthy eating even during your busiest times.
A little planning will go a long way for you to reach and maintain your weight loss goals.