15 – Balancing your Meals, How to Plan around your Schedule
Goldilocks – Not too much, not too little, just right.
Let’s jump into balancing meals and how to best do it!
When you are thinking about eating a balanced meal, one of the first things you should look at is getting a portion from EACH macronutrient into every meal.
1 handful of starch (pasta, spuds, rice, bread etc)
1 palm size of protein (lean meat, eggs, legumes or plant based alternative to animal products)
1 fist full of veggies
1 thumb size of fat (oil, butter, avocado)
If you’re eating something that could can’t work out the hand portion size, then look on the label, it will say “this pack contains 4 servings” so just divide by 4 and have 1 serving.
Don’t stress out about being perfect. Just make sure it is close.
How often do you truly have one serving of Protein, Starch, Veg & Fat in your meals?
My guess is that Breakfast misses out. And possibly lunch. If you cook at home, you’re likely to get all of the above in your dinner, but if you’re truly having balanced meals, adequate portion sizes and in control of your eating habits, then why are you here?
When you’re planning your meals for the week – do your best to get a bit of everything into every meal.
Just have a think of where the balance is missing right now and focus on something small to tip the scales in your direction.
Now there is one thing I must say before going on.
You must listen to your body!
What I’m talking about are guidelines. But if you follow it and your body is unhappy, change something.
Each one of us is slightly different so make sure you are not just blindly following advice. Try something new, pay attention to how your body feels and adjust.
If you don’t feel good after eating potatoes, try avoiding them for a few days and see if anything changes. Feeling bloated after eating dairy? Cut it out and see if you notice a difference.
Most people will feel much better eating balanced meals but it might take a little bit of tinkering to find that right combination of foods for YOU.
Notice & Name, check in with how you’re feeling. Small steps for lasting change.
Do any of these situations sound familiar to you?
You spend most of your day busy and stressed and you do your best to stick to eating healthy, portion-controlled meals. Then, when you get home, you are hungry. I mean REALLY hungry. That is when things go downhill. Quickly.
You are too tired to think about dinner so you just reach for the easiest, fastest, most convenient food you can find. Your willpower is shot, so your nutrition plan takes a backseat, undermining all the mindful choices you made earlier in the day.
Maybe you are a get-up and go type of person with no time for breakfast. You are so hungry by lunch that you are eating anything and everything in sight.
Maybe you go out every day for lunch because you don’t pack food to bring with you and struggle to find healthy foods on restaurant menus.
The overarching reason for the struggle in each of these scenarios is a lack of planning and preparation. All three scenarios have the individual flying by the seat of their pants and trying to figure out things on the fly. This is not a recipe for success, especially if you are trying to change your lifestyle.
It is time to make your nutrition plan really, really simple so it serves you. Literally!
Solution: Plan and Prepare
The easiest way to do this is to meal prep.
Make a list of the recipes you want to make for that week. Write down all the food you will need (saving this to your phone is perfectly fine, no need to get fancy).
Check your house for the ingredients on this list and mark them off appropriately.
Go food shopping once and stock up on everything you will need for these recipes.
You may plan to cook 1-2 times per week and make components for lots of meals at once.
Use leftovers to create new, or repeated, meals for the rest of the week.
Here are a examples to warm-up that huge computer between your ears.
Cook 1x Per Week
On Sunday afternoon (or whatever day you have 2-3 hours) put in an epic cooking session. Bulk cook everything you will need for assembling meals throughout the week. Fire up the oven, get all your pans out, plug in the slow cooker, and start filling up the fridge with prepped food. This strategy works well for 1-2 person households or VERY busy households that don’t have much time in the evenings.
Cook 2x Per Week
This is probably the most common strategy.
On Sunday afternoon and Wednesday evening cook up what you need for the next 3 days. Make a 3-day meal plan and get to it. This is a great strategy to save yourself a ton of time in the kitchen. Spend 1-2 hours prepping, cooking, and cleaning and then don’t cook for 3 days. This strategy works well for a larger family that has busy evenings most days of the week.
Each meal prep day will probably take you about 2 hours of cooking (4 hours per week), but then you are off the hook for days, which ultimately saves you lots of time and hassle. Put in the work on the front end and save time on the back end.
The “Dinner is Lunch” Strategy
Some people like to cook and enjoy cooking most days of the week. For this type of person, try the double portion dinner strategy.
Each time you make your evening meal, you will make a double portion and save the second portion for lunch the next day. You get two birds with one stone.
4 Reasons Why Meal Prepping Works:
It takes the excuse out of eating well.
Say goodbye to “I have no time to cook today,” and “There was nothing healthy at home for me to eat.”
It gives you more control over what you eat.
More homemade meals mean less takeout and meals at restaurants which also means more green stuff in your pockets.
It gets you in the habit of eating portioned meals.
For storage, you will pre-portion out your carbs, proteins, and fats for each day.
It frees up more time in your schedule
What will you do with your extra time??
In order to effectively meal prep, you will need to get to know which types of foods last the longest in your fridge once cooked, and also what sort of kitchen gadgets and equipment really come in handy when you’re cooking a large quantity at once. You will learn more about those tips in the next lessons.
Decide on a strategy of “plan and prepare” that works for you (1x/week, 2x/week, or dinner is lunch).
Try it out this week and see how it goes.
Let me know at the end of the week how you got on.