With a new year comes New Year's resolutions. I don't know about you, but I gave up on making these so-called resolutions a long time ago.
Here's the thing about resolutions: They put all the emphasis on what we're going to do better in the upcoming year but neglect to celebrate the things that actually went well.
What did you do this past year that's worth celebrating? What did you do that improved your quality of life? What did you do this year that made you feel amazing and full of life? It's so important to highlight things that are actually working in our lives so we can do more of them and feel great about it.
When reflecting on my own year, I realized that there was one thing I had done that had been crucial in helping me eat healthy on a consistent basis and ultimately feel my absolute best. I've been practicing this one thing every week until it has become a life-changing habit. A habit that I now actually look forward to every week. It's a habit that helps me stick to healthy eating habits day after day. It makes me feel great about myself and excited to eat well.
That habit is meal planning, and I'll definitely be carrying it through into this new year.
Meal planning has made such a huge impact on my life. It helps keep me organized and on track. When I plan my meals with delicious recipes, I'm actually excited to eat well. I buy only what I need, which saves me a ton of time and money. It encourages me to be mindful of what I'm putting in my body, and how good I can feel on a regular basis.
Getting into the habit of meal planning has been a serious game-changer for me. If eating healthy is a priority for you this year, here's a super-simple five-step process for how you can integrate meal planning into your life this year.
Our New Year, New Routine Meal Planning Challenge kicks off on Monday January 7, 2019. This is a four-week challenge that will help you master the art of meal planning and feel awesome. Learn more about the challenge here.
1. Create a calendar outline of your week.
You can do this with pen + paper, on your phone or using our meal-planning platform, That Clean Life. Start by filling in any meals you will be eating out (like your best friend's birthday). These are called flex meals and they are an important part of balance and maintaining your social life. Your social connections are crucial for your health too!
Here's what my blank meal plan looks like. It's a calendar with the days of the week along the top and the meal types (like breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks) along the side. I start my meal plans on a Monday, but you can organize your plan however you'd like.
2. Fill in the blank spots with healthy meals and snacks.
Now that you have a blank meal plan, you can start planning your meals! You can add recipes that are old favorites and/or mix in some new meals you are excited to try. Incorporate your favorite ingredients, so that you create a plan you are actually excited to follow.
Here's a sneak peek at my meal plan, as I've started to plan out my breakfasts and lunches for the week.
- I've chosen a baked oatmeal dish and chia puddings for breakfast, which can both be prepped ahead.
- For lunches, I'm going to go with a quinoa salad at the beginning of the week, and a soup at the end of the week, which I can make ahead and freeze.
- For snacks, I keep things super simple. This week I've chosen trail mix and apples with almond butter.
- I've left Saturday and Sunday blank, as I'm not yet sure of my weekend plans and don't want to buy food that will go to waste. I can always do a mid-week plan + shop if needed.
3. Create a grocery list
Now that you've added meals and recipes to your plan, it's time to create your grocery list. If you are using That Clean Life to do your meal planning, we'll automatically create your grocery list for you, based on the meals you add to the plan.
When making your grocery list, be sure to...
- Include the quantities you will need of each ingredient so that you will only buy what you need.
- Organize it into categories based on how your grocery store is laid out for organized shopping. For example, I always start my grocery list with fruits and then vegetables, as those are the first sections in the store.
- Check off any items you already have in your fridge, pantry or freezer before you head out so you don't buy items you already have.
After you shop, prepare any ingredients or meals that can be made in advance. Investing a bit of time in prep at the start of the week will save you a ton of time and stress later on.
I've purposely chosen meals for my plan that can be prepped in advance. I'll spend just one hour prepping on Sunday, and then just reheat my meals throughout the week.
Tip: While you prep, listen to an uplifting podcast or a new album from your favorite artist. Consider this "self-care" time and make meal planning and prep a weekly ritual you enjoy!
5. Stick your plan on the fridge or keep a copy on your phone as a quick reference.
Whichever way you created your meal plan, now is the time to stick a copy on your fridge, and/or take a screenshot so that you always have it on your phone. This way, you always have it close and can refer to it often.
Ready to get started with meal planning?
If you are feeling a calling to fuel your body with better food this year, stick to the basics. Don't complicate things. Just focus on eating real, whole foods. Having a plan is key and so is making sure that the process is enjoyable. I'm proof that meal planning can quickly become a life-altering habit that you actually love.
Our New Year, New Routine Meal Planning Challenge kicks off on Monday, January 7, 2019. Learn more here!
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