Meal Planning Basics!
Meal planning is almost the number one nutrition related stressor of most of my clients. We don’t want to plan, we are tired, everyone wants to eat something different etc. It can feel overwhelming.
First, I think many of us are too hard on ourselves. Meal planning doesn’t need to be fancy, have much prep work or even be pretty. A meal just needs to cover the bases of nutrition for everyone.
The questions I pose for my clients the most around meal planning are: where is your protein, where are your vegetables, where is the fat and where is the carb…..and depending on what kind of meal is desired, the carb can be optional if there is enough fat. So what does that look like?
It can be a typical plate of ¼ of protein, ¼ – ½ of veggies and ¼ of carbohydrate with a good drizzle of olive oil or butter, avocado, nut butter. This is the simplest way to build your plate.
It can also look like: 1 cup of cottage cheese, 1 cup of broccoli and a baked potato, topped with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese. Done! All bases are covered!
Or, it can look like, opening a can of tuna, add some mayo or mustard, onion and celery, and make a sandwich, or add some noodles for a casserole with some crushed chips on top! And if you really want to get fancy, add a salad!
The message is still: Keep. It. Simple!
Try it out yourself. Make a list of all the proteins you think you like and or you and your family eat. Next, make a list of any veg that you and your family will eat. Then, do the same with carbohydrate options. From there, look at what you can prep in advance. Meaning, can you make several pounds of chicken breast in a slow cooker or in the oven. Dice a few and keep a few breasts whole and frozen. The next time you need a dish with chicken, you got the main piece taken care of already! Cooked and ready to go! Now you just need to find your veg and your carb! Or turn it into a salad with some bread and olive oil or dice a leftover potato into it!
The message: Keep. It. Simple.
One of the easiest things you can do with a frozen, but cooked chicken breast, is add marinara sauce, a slice of provolone or mozzarela, cheese and broil it for 3 min tops! Chicken parmesan! Maybe you add some pasta or squash or a potato for your carb and a simple salad or fresh or frozen veggies on the side. Easy peezy!
Now it’s your turn. Start making lists. What does everyone eat for each column. What sauces, and flavors can you add to that. And then consider batching it out. Cook the meats in advance, chop a veg while the kitchen is still dirty from something else, or as a break after a zoom call or while you are chatting with someone on the phone. Before you know it, you have all the pieces set to just literally throw a meal together! Get creative – it doesn’t have to be pretty or “normal”. Just get the nutrition in there. And this is such a great thing to involve your kids with too. They love not eating conventionally, and you get to educate them too on what a protein is and so on…..
Here is a super simple reminder of these concepts! K.I.S.S Meal Planning
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Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Nicole is recognized state-wide and nationally as a Registered Dietitian and is also a Certified dietitian through the state of Wisconsin. She is also a Board Certified Sports Dietitian and a Certified Personal Trainer and Physical Fitness Instructor.
Nicole’s areas of expertise include: Wellness and lifestyle coaching, weight management, behavior modification, eating disorders, vegetarian lifestyles, gluten-free living, sports nutrition, recipe and menu design and development.