Get your free meal planner for weight loss, tips to make your healthy meal planning work for you, and recipe ideas under 500 calories.
One of the most helpful skills I learned on my 100-pound weight loss journey was planning ahead.
When you plan ahead, you are being intentional about your choices. You are taking charge of your choices by planning what is good for your body, not being led by cravings in the moment.
And you’re also not waiting until the last minute (when you’re absolutely starving) to reach for whatever is quickest and easiest (which tends to be junk food).
It takes practice to get into the rhythm of planning ahead, but it is so important for weight loss!
So important that it is actually one of our guidelines in our Faithful Finish Lines 2.0 Christian Weight Loss Program (registration opening again in January 2020!) – plan tomorrow’s meals today.
It’s such a simple guideline, but can you imagine how your weight loss journey would transform if you followed the plan you created the day before? In the program, we give you all of the tools you need to create a healthy plan and actually follow through with it!
Until then, here are some tips to get you started!
Download Your Free Meal Planner for Weight Loss Here
How To Use Your Meal Planner For Weight Loss
#1 – Make A Realistic Meal Plan
This is your top priority.
Don’t fill in your meal plan with time-intensive Pinterest-y meals if you don’t cook at all right now.
Don’t plan on eating boiled chicken and steamed broccoli all week if you don’t like leftovers and you’re used to eating McDonald’s every day.
The only way a meal plan can work to help you lose weight is if you actually follow it (and not just for one week before you throw up your hands and give up on it).
So, make your meal plan realistic.
Plan in a few treats. Make healthy choices, but don’t make extreme changes from the way you eat now. Even if the changes are wonderful and good, they won’t do you any good if you can’t keep it going.
One of the dangers of weight loss is living in the extremes – either strictly dieting or giving yourself free rein and eating anything and everything that sounds good.
Live in the gray area with your meal plan.
Add in extra vegetables, use more lean protein, or switch to some whole grains.
If you’re not used to making a meal plan, start simple and build on it as you go.
I’m a huge fan of one-pot and sheet pan meals because they are often simple and don’t require as much thinking since your protein, veggies, and sides are all included.
#2 – Make It Fit Your Goals
Obviously, if you are wanting to lose weight, you can’t just make a realistic meal plan and hope that it works.
Guessing or “feeling” like you are making healthy choices isn’t enough. I know from personal experience because I spent years feeling healthy by skipping breakfast, eating bell pepper strips for lunch, then binging on boxes of fruit snacks and Nutty Bars at night (that is NOT the balanced diet you are going for here!).
To lose weight, you must eat fewer calories than your body is burning.
That counts your binges. That includes the calories you ate when nobody was looking. Your body is counting calories even when you aren’t.
So, take a few minutes to plug your numbers into MyFitnessPal (and be sure to learn how to make the most of MyFitnessPal for weight loss).
Then figure out about how many calories each meal and snack should be to meet your goals. I try to make my dinners around 500 calories to fit my goals.
I recommend spreading your calories out over the course of the day. Don’t restrict your calories all morning so that you can eat all the things at night.
#3 – Plan Ahead
Writing your meal ideas on the meal planner is a great start, but to make sure you actually follow through, it’s really important to plan ahead.
It’s easy for excuses to creep in when it comes to meal planning. I didn’t have time to get to the grocery store, I forgot to thaw the chicken, I don’t have time to prep that recipe tonight.
If you don’t have everything ready for the meals on your plan, chances are, you will end up stopping through the drive-thru or grabbing junk food from the store.
Here are some suggestions for planning ahead:
- Pick a day and time that you can go grocery shopping every week. Making it a part of your weekly routine makes sure it gets done! I highly recommend using grocery pick-up to save time (I use Walmart pick-up – it’s free!).
- Write into your plan when you need to take meat out of the freezer to thaw. I set a reminder on my phone to make sure it gets done.
- Meal prep part or all of your meals. I meal prep breakfast every week for my husband and I. When he works out of town for 4 days a week, I meal prep all of our meals for those days. My sister, a part-time working mom of two school-age kiddos, likes to chop all of the veggies and get the meat marinating for her meals first thing in the morning so dinnertime isn’t as hectic. There are tons of options! Just choose the one that fits best with your life.