If you are just starting out with a healthy lifestyle it can seem overwhelming. Not only are you revamping your entire routine, but you are learning about new foods, how to cook them, adjusting your budget, and so on. One of the most important, and often difficult, components to your new lifestyle is executing healthy meals. In order to do so, you need to be organized. Which is why Meal Planning is The Key to Your Healthy Lifestyle.
Meal Planning: The Key to Your Healthy Lifestyle
There are a few simple steps you can take to get yourself organized and meal plan like a boss. Soon enough you’ll be highly efficient in the kitchen.
Create a Recipe Database
This is the fun portion of your planning, where you research, collect and save recipes. It is easy to get carried away of course (hello getting lost on Pinterest for hours). Instead of blindly searching for recipes all over the web, specify your searches and seek out resources with your exact interests.
For instance, if you are following a Paleo lifestyle, search for Paleo recipes, Paleo blogs, and Paleo resources. If you are following a Vegetarian or Vegan lifestyle, locate books and magazines on this exact topic at your local library or bookstore.
Once you have a solid collection of recipes, it’s time to organize them. Generally, it is best to sort recipes by category so you can easily pull from your catalog for each meal. An example catalog would include:
Lastly, let’s put all your recipes in action. This is where a planning tool comes in handy.
Select a Planning Tool
Your planning tool will depend on your personal preference. Are you a digital babe and do everything online, or are you old school and prefer pen and paper?
Either way, find a tool that works best for you and your needs. If you search and save most of your recipes online, there are dozens of online planning programs that will help organize your recipes, create a shopping list, and even provide nutritional information. Some popular options include:
- Meal Planner Pro is a great simple and free site where you can build menus, weekly/monthly plans, and create a shopping list.
- Evernote is a phenomenal place to save and organize recipes and convert them into a meal plan. This meal planning post on their blog walks you through every step. Bonus that the site is free, as is the app for your phone and tablet.
Whichever method you choose, develop a routine and map out your meals at least a week in advance.
Find a Support Community
If you are just getting started, or feel you are in a meal planning rut, it is extremely helpful to join a community. This could be a lunch with your friends, a neighborhood meet-up, an online community, or a Facebook group. A few sites you can try include:
- Meetup – this is the original meet-up site and has groups for literally every interest. Search by city and topic to find your niche.
- Next door – a great community app to connect with your neighbors. This is a forum site and more personal than social media. Post a message to the boards and find or initiate a recipe share group.
- Facebook groups – there are FB groups for nearly every interest. Similar to how you search for topic-specific recipes, there are support groups for Paleo recipes, Paleo lifestyle for beginners, Vegan recipes, Real Food living, and thousands of other healthy lifestyles.
Whatever method you choose, the goal is to make connections with like-minded individuals. You will be surprised by how many others are in your same position and are willing to help.
Seek Professional Help As Needed
If you have a special diet, such as one dictated by food allergies or sensitivities, or another health condition, it would be best that you work with a professional to plan your meals. At least at first, until you have a treatment plan.
A professional will guide you through your transition, and tailor a diet specific to your individual needs. If you aren’t already seeing a doctor who supports your overall wellness and looks out for your best interests, it is time to find someone who does.
I can speak from personal experience that you may hit a wall with traditional medicine when you are dealing with chronic illness. Fortunately, there are numerous holistic options, or integrative doctors, that can assist. Having a solid team on your side will make all the difference in your healing journey.
These are useful resources when searching for a new dream team:
- Search for a Holistic Medicine on Thumbtack
- LifeExtention and medfinds both have searchable databases to find a wide array of practitioners in your area
- To find an integrative medicine doctor near you, search the AAIM’s database
- Lastly, see if a personal health coach would be beneficial for you
And that my friends, is how you master meal planning to help you maintain your healthy lifestyle. What are your favorite meal planning tips? Let us know in the comments below!
Guest Post by Dawn Karwoski:
Dawn Karwoski runs the health-centric blog, Our Food Fix, along with her husband Garett. Both obsessed with all things food, they share Paleo & mostly healthy recipes, wellness resources, and planning & efficiency tips. Dawn is a meeting/event planner by day, and blogs in the evenings to satisfy her love of writing, educating others, and connecting with like-minded individuals. She avidly studies nutrition and healthy living and aims to inspire everyone to live a happier healthier life.