Success in just about any endeavor where you are trying to make a change comes down to honesty, consistency, tracking and planning ahead. Planning ahead makes it much easier to honestly stick to your plan, be consistent about it, and also easier to track since you’ve thought about it ahead of time. Planning out your meals in advance is a great way to get ahead of the game. I’ve written about preparing meals ahead of time, but this is about planning things out before you even get to the grocery store.
Promise me something
I want you to make a vow right now to never again head to the grocery store without a list. No more just “winging” it. No more just buying whatever you feel like. Even if you are only going in for a couple things, make a list. I find that when I only need a few things, I think I can remember them all, and also since my list is short, I figure I can pick up a few random extra things, and then I inevitably forget one of the items I actually meant to buy. Make. A. List. Decide what meals you will make for the week, and add the ingredients you don’t already have in the pantry or fridge to the list. You can use a pen an paper list, or one of the many list apps out there. There are even apps that will store your ingredient lists for meals, so you simply select which meals you plan to make, and it automatically adds what you need to your list for that shopping trip.
Make a meal list
This is different from your grocery list, but will help you tremendously in planning your meals for the week. Make a master list of easy to prepare, healthy meals. (To help you get started, fill out the form below to get three free recipes!) This list also keeps your meal rotation from getting too boring, as you can reference it for a meal you haven’t had in a while. Pinterest is a great place for finding easy meals for the slow cooker, or one pan oven meals. Keeping the recipes for these meals is handy when it comes time to make your shopping list so you can be sure you don’t forget any main ingredients. It also gives you the opportunity to be sure you have enough of a particular ingredient on hand rather than getting to the store and trying to remember if you have lentils at home or not and if you do, if you have enough to cover the amount the recipe calls for.
Don’t over complicate it
While your meal list can help you with keeping your menu fresh, don’t try to make it too complicated by trying to come up with too many different meals. It’s a great idea to have at least one go-to meal that is super simple each week. In our household, we alternate between chicken thighs and wings each week, but we have them every single week. (I’ve included this one in the recipes below) Also, try to keep most of the meals themselves relatively simple. The idea here is to make it as easy as possible to cook a healthy meal at home rather than going out to eat. The easier a meal is to prepare, the more likely you are to choose that option.
Plan ahead with the sales flyer
If you live near a supermarket, you likely get a flyer from them in the mail each week. You can also use this flyer to help you plan out your meals, especially if you are on a budget. Just cross-reference what’s on sale with the meals in your lineup, and then add those items to your grocery list.
Stick to the list
I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, but once you’ve consulted your meal index and the store flyer and created your shopping list, ONLY BUY WHAT’S ON THE LIST. For one, this will get you in and out of the grocery store faster. Also, if you avoid buying extras, then you won’t be tempted by having them in the house. Healthy eating starts in the grocery store. If you don’t put it in your cart, you won’t put it in your mouth.
For more tips on planning out your meals, including how to build a Meal Library, check out my Ultimate Guide to Meal Prep.