You have probably heard it before, but meal prep is crucial to having success in macro counting. What meal prep actually looks like can vary greatly between people and lifestyles. Some people like to prep all of their meals on Sunday. Some like to “wing it” and cook what they feel like. You have to find what works for you and your family!
I would like to say I am somewhat in the middle. I do some preparing to help me make sure I can stay on track with my macros. However, I am open to being flexible with the meals I have chosen to create. For example, if I planned on burgers, I’ll do that meal whenever it sounds best or works best for me to make them. Below are some steps and things I think about while I’m planning meals for the week.
1. What Do I Feel Like Eating This Week?
I know this might seem like an odd question, but I always try to think of what sounds yummy to me. I 100% believe that the reason I have been able to lose weight with macros AND keep it off is because I like what I’m eating. I don’t dread my meals because they genuinely sound good, and I look forward to them.
You might be saying to yourself, can I really satisfy my cravings and lose weight? And the answer is yes! You just may need to be a little bit more strategic about how you eat them. For example, if you love mac and cheese, consider pairing it with a high protein, low fat option (like chicken breast) and scaling back your portion sizes. Or, if you love a certain cookie, plan on making a batch, freezing some, and pre-logging your treat for the day.
2. What Things Are Going on this Week?
My husband and I usually try to sit down on the weekend and discuss what is going on in our schedules for the week. I try to make note of any nights my husband has to be out of the house and make sure to plan easy meals for that night (like this Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili or this Chick-Fil-A Sandwich Salad). I also make note of any nights we might be eating out of the house.
Usually I try to make a big meal on Saturday nights. This is for two reasons. First, my husband is home, so I have more time and ability to focus on a more complex meal. Second, I do this so that we have enough leftovers for lunch on Sunday after church. I don’t know about you, but Sundays are usually the days I’m hungriest. Because of this, I like to have lunch ready to heat up after church.
3. What Do We Need and Need to Use?
Throughout the week I try to keep a running list of things that we need. I have a couple ways of remembering them. First, if it’s something ‘ll get from Wal-Mart pick-up, I just add it to my cart as soon as I remember it. That way it stays there and will already be added in when I start my grocery list. If I need to pick it up from Costco, I keep a memo in my planner on the day I plan to go to Costco that week (usually Mondays). This helps make sure I do not forget anything important!
And before I make a list, I also usually look at what I already have in the house. I really hate wasting food, so I usually check if any produce needs to be used up first. Then, I’ll move to the pantry and see what has been in there for a while. I try first to plan some meals that include those items.
4. What Are We Eating?
After I decide what sounds good and what will work for the week, I like to pull ideas out of several places for meals. Of course, we have lots of family favorite meals that I often prepare. I also enjoy pulling ideas out of my saved posts from Instagram or by searching Pinterest. Speaking of Pinterest, I have an account on there, and I’d love if we can connect that way.
5. Making a List
After I have worked through all those things, I make a list. I usually shop at two stores during the week, so I make two lists! HA! As you know, I absolutely love to go to Costco, and we usually buy big staple items like milk, cheese, meat, yogurt, some produce, etc. from there. We usually go toward the beginning of the week. We do this because it’s often less busy earlier in the week, and then we are all set for things we need.
Then, I usually like to do Wal-Mart grocery pick up to save me a bit of time and headache of grocery shopping again with the kiddos. I know it might sound silly to shop twice in the week, but I find I can’t get everything I need at Costco. However, Costco still has amazing prices, so it is worth the two trips! We usually do Wal-Mart pick up towards the end of the week. I like to space my two grocery trips out so that way I can pick up things I might need for an event that comes up unexpectedly or to replace an item we ran out of.
And there you have it! My tips for meal planning. I have found this to be key to having success, and it helps make my life be much more organized too. Plus, I love having good food to look forward to and not scrambling to throw something on the table! If you don’t set out time during the week to do this already, I highly encourage you to set out a half hour or so to get your food thought out for the week. Just like most things, the prep work is so worth the reward!