Why Build The Meal Plan

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Why Even Bother To Plan

We often hear about the importance of goal setting in our lives. They say a man without an aim is like a ship without a rudder. Indeed, setting up goals for life, short- and long-term, is probably the single most important step one can make to achieve success and happiness.

The same is true for meal planning. Setting up a goal for nutrition, planning the steps to achieve it (which is planning the meals ahead) and tracking the results with periodical reviews will help significantly with achieving success in fitness goals.

This is not to say we all need to start meticulously capturing every bit of food we eat and strictly stick to the assigned amount of calories. Every human organism functions differently. The food we eat will not necessarily have the same effect on each of us.

However, by setting an aim for nutrition and calorie consumption and building a plan to meet this goal, you will get a better understanding of a general direction you should be heading with the meals you consume daily and the effect they will have on your body (and mind, for that matter).

Just like with goal-setting for life, it is important to keep track of the actual calorie and nutrition intake, periodically review the results and adjust accordingly. Without these steps, we would not be able to understand if we are on track to achieve our goals or slightly off and what is there to be fine-tuned.

There are plenty of sources of information on meal planning. One can choose to set a meal plan varying on the goals or specific needs, let it be bodybuilding, maternity, weight-loss or -gain focused nutrition.

Step By Step - Guide To Meal Planning

  1. Outline your goal. What is it that you would like to achieve in the long term? Is it weight-loss or creating a balanced diet?
  2. Calculate your calorie intake based on the goals you have set for yourself and based on your personal calorie requirements (for example, you may refer to the calculator at PlantSpace.Org).
  3. Decide how many times per week you are willing to cook and find time in your calendar to make sure you can prepare these meals.
  4. Find your favorite meals that balance whole grains, foods that are rich in plant protein and vegetables, as well as add some wholesome fat sources (seeds or nuts). Adjust the meals based on your planned calorie intake (use calorie calculator tools, such as Cronometer.com or MyFitnessPal.com.
  5. Make a grocery haul for the missing ingredients and prep the meals ahead.
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Photo by Ella Olsson on Unsplash

Every successful planning includes a review of what worked and what didn’t. Make sure to take a look, desirably on a weekly basis (while the memory is fresh), at any hick-ups you have faced. Did you not fill satiated with the meals you have prepared? Have you got off the plan to snack something unplanned? How can you avoid such problems next time?

Never Miss Twice

Very important at this point is to not feel guilty about any challenges you may have faced. It is ok to stumble, if only you get back on track every time. As James Clear (author of Atomic Habits) suggests, it’s a very helpful strategy to ‘Never Miss Twice’. What this stands for is that no one is perfect and things may slip off once in while: we may skip a workout, a meditation session or eat something unhealthy. One time is an exception. What is important is not to start an unwanted trend by skipping the second time in a row.

That said, try to get back on track right away if you notice yourself stepping away from your meal plan. It is much easier to do so sooner than later. Analyze what went wrong and adjust accordingly. And see your future self being grateful!

Need help with setting up a meal plan? Find our free pdf meal planning template along with a grocery list template below.

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