- Get out your calendar, look at everyone's schedule and make note of what's happening that week, such as appointments, work schedules, activities, and so on.
- Also factor in and make appointments with specific times for exercise to ensure that you stay on track and plan that in among your other activities.
- Then think about how this will affect your meals this week, including any food-related events you need to go to, when you're short on time/need leftovers, when you'll be out to eat (due to activities, shopping, etc.), and when you have time to cook at home.
- In general, I aim to plan for the following meals with the idea that I'll rotate them: 2-3 simple breakfast ideas and 1-2 hearty breakfast idea (i.e., for the weekend); 2 simple lunch ideas (such as salads or sandwiches) and 2 "leftover" meals from dinners that week or the freezer; 3 cook-at-home dinners and 2-3 "leftover" meals from dinners that week or the freezer; 3-4 snack ideas.
- Then I write down either on a separate sheet of paper or in the "notes" section of my smartphone the meals. I label as such "Breakfast #1", "Breakfast #2" and so on with all meals and snacks that I'm planning. While I'm doing this, I also put together my grocery list for the foods I need that go along with the meals and snacks I'm planning.
- While I'm planning, I try to do 1-2 new recipes each week, but the remainder of the time stick to the tried and true. Then, if everyone likes the new recipes, they get added into the rotation. This also helps limit the amount of time you spend preparing.
- Pick a day to go to the grocery store when you're not rushed to get the bulk of your food for the week. That way, when you come home, you can do some prep for the meals and snacks you're planning that week. It shouldn't take you more than an hour once you get home to prep items such as chopping veggies, make some lunchtime salads, and portion snacks.
Written by Michelle Baglio of Optimal Nutrition and Health (Google+). The information contained in this post is provided for educational purposes only with the understanding that Optimal Nutrition and Health makes no warranties, either expressed or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability, or suitability of the information. Readers are advised not to use information in this post or others found on this website for the treatment or prevention of disease, and it should not be used in place of medical treatment or advice. Please do not reprint this post for distribution without my permission. To feature on your website or social media, please link to this post as the original source.