In fitness and nutrition, there are no shortcuts. Sorry.
That said there is one amazingly simple “trick” you can do to improve your diet compliance and consistency, and improve your results significantly.
Plan you meals ahead of time.
Honestly, it’s that simple. Make a decision on what you are going to eat for your meals and snacks for the week ahead. Build the meals on paper, then go do the shopping for everything you are going to need for those meals and snacks. Don’t buy other stuff, you’ll have a list, stick to it.
Then the hard part.
Follow the freaking plan. That’s the tough part, the part that takes a little effort and time. But I guarantee it’s worth it. Here are a few tips to help you.
1. Keep it simple
When people start meal planning, often they make a list of 7 different breakfasts. Then 7 lunches and 7 dinners, all different and unique and exciting. While this sounds great, it can be a little problematic trying to find the time to prep and cook 21 different meals. Not to mention costly having to buy all these different ingredients every week.
Most people will have a core selection of meals that are steady go-to options, 4 or 5 meal or lunch options that can be tweaked according to needs.
2. Double up meals
When you make your evening meals, make a little extra to have for lunch the next day. This makes the next day a little easier as you already have one meal planned and ready. For example, you could make a chilli (like Beef and Beer Chilli or Chicken and Black Bean Chilli) for Mondays dinner. Then portion up another serving for Tuesdays lunch, saving you time and effort.
3. Write it down
Write down your plan. Then write down your shopping list. Do what’s on the list.
Writing the meals down means you are less likely to just make up something on the fly and maybe just call in a takeaway or grab a pizza on the way home. Writing down the shopping list means you only buy what’s on the list and aren’t tempted into picking up the whole of aisle 24 and eating yourself into a carb coma.
4. Prep as much as you can ahead of time
After planning your meals, and buying your food, prep is the next most important part of the process.
- Cut up your veggies
- Cook your meat
- Cook up a batch of carbs such as mixed beans, lentils or quinoa
Portion it all up and stick it in the fridge for when you need it. If you’re making something like chilli or stew, cook it in advance and heat up portions when you need them.
5. Tick off meals as you go.
The Seinfeld Method is a great tip from comedian Jerry Seinfeld
He said that in order to get better at writing jokes he had to make himself write every day. No matter what, he would sit down and write, and each day he would score off a box for that day on his wall calendar. Once the chain of crossed out boxes started to grow, he didn’t want to break the chain, so the habit of writing daily grow stronger. Now he’s one of the wealthiest comedians in the world, with his show syndicated around the world.
The system of keeping the chain going, either on a calendar, meal planning sheet or app such as Coach.me helps you keep track of your progress and helps keep you motivated to keep going.
So there you are, 5 simple tips to help keep your meals on track that also help you save time, money and reduce stress around meal times.