Give it a Try!
So you have decided to move forward in your health journey. You want to eat healthier. That is a great start. The motivation has to come from you. It makes all the difference in the world in terms of your success. It may have taken years for you to get to this point or you may have decided over night. You may be doing this for a number of reasons, your health, your ethics, your culture. No matter your path or what your reason is the first step is the same. You have to make a plan.
Depending on how big of a step it is will determine your plan. If you want to take small steps and slowly phase out meat and dairy then your plan will be a little different from someone who is going to jump in with both feet. You will both eventually get to the same destination but your journeys will take a different path.
Here are some helpful Menu Planning Tips to get you on your way.
Menu Planning Tips
#1: Keep it Simple. Plan very simple meals for the first couple of weeks until you get into a groove. Changing the kinds of foods you eat on a daily basis will add some stress to your life. You don’t want to add to that by planning elaborate meals and spending all of your time in the kitchen. Pick a few meals from my Main Meals or Quick & Easy recipe selections and start with those. You may have repeats and leftovers but that is okay.
#2: Don’t focus on what you cannot have but rather focus on what you CAN eat. Pick recipes you look forward to eating and that sound appealing. There is something on this site for everyone. This will keep you motivated.
#3: Pick 2-3 breakfast items and rotate them out. My suggestion would be a couple of different varieties of Overnight Oats and 1-2 Smoothies recipes. You will become familiar with these and they will get easier to prepare while you establish a new food prep routine.
#4: Overpack. If you plan to be away from home for most of the day either at work or somewhere else pack more food than you can possibly eat in a day. This will help you avoid making unhealthy choices if you run out of food.
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#5: Prepare healthy snacks. For those times at home when cravings kick in it is good to have food on hand. Veggies like cut carrots, celery, peppers, tomatoes can be washed, cut up and stored in the refrigerator ready to go. A container of hummus and fresh veggies goes a long way to keeping you full and on the right track. Cut up fruit, baked corn tortillas, and fresh salsa are also good to have on hand.
#6: The Kitchen is Closed. Set a time at night where the kitchen is closed. Drink tea, brush your teeth – have a mental close to your day. Establishing this routine up front will help keep late night cravings at bay.
#7: Salads for Lunch. Just for the first couple of weeks. Now don’t panic. It won’t really be just your typical lettuce and tomato salad for lunch. I have some great simple salads that have everything from rice, potatoes, beans, pasta and fruit added. In addition, there are very tasty dressings that go along with these. Select 2-3 salads for the first week and rotate them along. I promise you they will fill you up and keep you going until dinner. Pack some fruit for the ride home from work.
#8: Embrace Your Hunger. We have been ingrained to think that hunger pains are a bad thing. They are the signal to the brain that all of the food you have eaten has been digested and used and now it is time to provide more nourishment. If you can wait it out just a bit you will train your body to utilize its stored reserves. Observe how you can actually get past those hunger pangs and spread a little more time out in between meals. It is the fast track to losing weight faster if that is your thing.
#9: Casseroles, Soups and Chilis for Dinner. These go a long way to making things simple. 2-3 prepared dishes can be recylced throughout your week keeping you out of the kitchen most nights. Many of the Main Meals and Quick & Easy recipes on this site can be prepared in 15 minutes and cooked for ~30. If you spend a couple of hours on the weekend getting ahead of the game you are good to go. Add a salad or some whole wheat bread and you have yourself a delicious and healthy meal.
#10: Desserts are a Good Thing. Plan to make some sweet rewards that are also healthy. Go to the Dessert section of the Recipe tab and select one or two that sound good to you. You want to make sure you set yourself up for success and that may be a dessert or two to help you down the path.
So print out a blank calendar for the next week, go through the recipes on my site and determine what you will eat each day for each meal for the week ahead. Write that into the calendar. Now you have a game plan. Next step let’s figure out what you will need to prepare your meals. Go to Prep Your Kitchen to find out more!
Ready to Get Started?
Let’s work together on your healthy future!
Feel free to email me directly if you have questions about beginning your personal nutritional journey.
Disclaimer: I am a Nutritional Coach and Culinary Instructor. I received my Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies via e-Cornell and a Plant-Based teaching certificate from the Food For Life Program with The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. I have a certificate in Plant-Based Cooking from the Rouxbe Culinary School. I stand behind all recipes, recommendations and nutrition information provided. Please read my full Legal and Affiliate Disclaimer for more information.