“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” ~ Benjamin Franklin. I’ve seen this a million times and I’m sure I say it, in some variation, to my clients on a weekly basis. I believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if you are trying to lose weight, better your health, get stronger, build muscle or create a toned physique, then you absolutely must make a plan! Plan your workouts and most certainly, plan out your meals.
Think about it for a second. You start a “diet” – I hate that word but we’ll use it for this example. Whether it is something you purchased or something you came up with on your own, you made a decision that you want to lose weight. You buy some healthy food (some of it you don’t even like but it’s for the cause right?) and you are determined to stop eating the junk. The first couple of days go pretty well. You’re making healthier choices, you’ve exercised and are limping around because your muscles have NO IDEA what you’ve done to them but overall you’re feeling pretty proud of what you’ve accomplished so far. But then something happens. You get busy, the kids get sick, you forget to take something out of the freezer, you have to work late … and you not ready. What do you do? At least half of us will grab something at a fast food restaurant on the way home, another big percentage will dig out whatever they can from the fridge or pantry and try to put something together (usually consists of less than ideal options), while a small group will simply just be hungry because they are determined to stick to their goals and being hungry is better than eating crap right? Oh my.
The first thing I try to get my clients to do is start planning a day in advance. Look at their schedule, plan when they can eat and when they can exercise, and then add that to their schedule! This is a huge first step for people who generally fly by the seat of their pants. You should see the eye rolls I get when I tell them now they need to prep as much food as they can ahead of time! Yes, writing it down on paper is not where it ends (or my to-do list would be my masterpiece!). You actually have to DO THE WORK! Once people master the planning the day in advance, I try to get them to start planning a few days or even a week. Sometimes, if you’re like me, just planning the evening meals will make the biggest impact.
Never though, have I considered planning a full MONTH in advance…until now. I’ve heard people talk about only shopping once per month, planning out a month’s worth of dinners, etc… but to think about doing one big shopping trip, planning out a month’s worth of meals and actually PREPARING those meals!! At first it seems daunting. But the thought of having a meal ready, with just a little heating required on those crazy busy afternoons, sounds like heaven. So….here I go!
As I mentioned in Saturday’s post. I acquired a Homemaker’s Bundle back in the spring and included in that was a complimentary one-month membership to Once a Month Meals, a website dedicated to helping you plan out and prepare your meals only once per month. This is what started my path and what I am going to use (for the most part) in my planning.
My first job was to go through the website and the ‘start-up’ emails that come through when you first sign up. I’ll admit I didn’t make it through all the emails because I like to just dive in head first. Good idea? Who knows. There is also a chat option where you can speak to an admin live and ask any questions you have. The first thing you’ll see on the Home page is a variety of menu types including Traditional Menu, Whole Food, Diet, Paleo, Gluten Free, Vegetarian and even Baby! For variety, there is a new menu each month for each of these menu types and with a basic membership you have access to all of these menus and any past menus. You’ll also receive shopping lists, prep and cooking day instructions, labels and heating instructions. You can also adjust the number of servings based on the size of your family. This is a perfect option for you if you want to take the guesswork out of ‘what to make’ and you’re not a picky eater. But if you’re like me and surrounded by a bunch of (wonderful) people who try new foods very cautiously, when you upgrade to the Pro membership, you are given the ability to create and save your own menu, including swapping out meals. The good news? There is a huge variety of meals to choose from. The bad news? There is a HUGE variety of meals to choose from! I felt a little overwhelmed so I started by opening the basic “Whole Food” meal plan and then starting swapping out any meals that I knew wouldn’t appeal to my family.
This is when I thought it was a good idea to bring my husband on board because if I was going to plan out a whole month of meals, I thought it was very important that he had a say in what we were eating. This has three benefits…
- I am making meals that interests and pleases my husband,
- He understands that I value his input and opinion, and
- If it isn’t a good meal, he knows that he had a say in it! LOL.
I asked him go through the recipes and write down any that appealed to him. Score! I had a starting point and takes me up to where I am now. A blank August calendar, my smart phone with all our activities and a page full of meal options. Time to start getting organized!!
Come back tomorrow when I talk about the planning process, how I decided on the meals and a sneak peek at my shopping list! Until then, I wish you an organized, blessed and healthy day!