Delicious Options: Introducing the Meal Planner
When subtracting something from the diet (or from any part of life for that matter), it is important to put something else back in its place so you don’t feel deprived. When reducing (or eliminating sugar) it is especially important to choose nourishing foods that you truly love, so you spend less time missing the sweets.
Having delicious, nourishing foods at your fingertips means a little planning. Hence, the Printable Meal Planner I’ve created. Obviously it is self-explanatory – you fill in the foods you plan to eat on each particular day, but here are a few tips to make your meal planning a snap.
Meal Planning in a Snap
Make a list of your favorite foods.
First, make a list of all the foods you love which are (relatively) healthy and sugar-free. Think of all the possible food categories: meats, dairy, fruits, veggies, grains, nuts and seeds. Also, restaurant food you might wish to enjoy.
If you are anal detail-oriented like I am, you might wish to have categories of food on a sheet of paper and list your favorites under each heading. Jot down either general notations like “chicken” or specifically name your favorite chicken dishes such as “chicken & rice casserole.” My list looks partially like this:
This is just an example and is not my complete list. Your list may look nothing like mine, and that’s fine. Don’t just write down foods you think are healthy and you SHOULD eat, but write down decent food choices that you LOVE.
Start with dinner.
Now begin to plug in your items on the Meal Planner. I start with dinner first because that is the most difficult for me. Check to see if there are any nights you will dine out and note those days on your planner!
A guideline that works for me is to choose three to four main dishes. That amount allows enough leftovers for my lunch a few days and/or a family leftover night. Plan the number of meals YOU need based on your preference and your family situation.
Simplify breakfast and lunch.
I have more variety listed on my sample meal planner as an example of how the planner can be used, but in most situations I simply choose two or three lunches and breakfasts and rotate them throughout the week. Or two lunches (eaten once or twice) and eat leftovers the other days.
Start out SIMPLE. Even though I listed several breakfast choices on my planner, you don’t have to. Just choose two and rotate. Or heck, eat the same breakfast every day if that floats your boat. No prizes are awarded for most dietary variety!
While I often have meals planned in advance (especially during this challenge), I usually don’t plan my snacks. I keep healthy options in the house and then choose whatever I’m in the mood for when hunger strikes.
Be careful not to use snacking as an opportunity to graze all day. I often have a small snack between work and dinner, and then a second snack at night – usually after my workout. You may choose to eat larger meals and not snack at all, or have multiple snacks per day. Find what works for you and what makes you happy.
Refuse to feel deprived!
I have sprinkled this post with photos of delicious healthy foods that would definitely satisfy me. (The pizza is debatable, lol.) If I have a nice snack of imported cheese and a small glass of wine, would I miss a bowl of ice cream? Maybe, but I certainly won’t feel deprived.
Now it’s your turn. Print your menu planner and start populating it with your favorite meals. It’s easy as pie! Well, maybe that’s the a bad analogy to use during Sugar Free January, but you get the point!