How do you plan your meals ?

Relax_Its_Just_Burpees Posts: 39 Member
edited June 2017 in Food and Nutrition
How do you plan your week food vice?

I'm thinking about planning mine a bit better and would love to see how others meal and snack plan.
You've got an excel sheet with all your meals and macro nutrision... or do you play it by the ear ?


  • kommodevaran
    kommodevaran Posts: 17,890 Member
    edited June 2017
    I do it by ear, in a spreadsheet, but I've learnt about diet composition and what works for me from over a year of tracking macros on MFP.

    I created a table of my meals (I don't normally snack, but snacks are just small meals, so never mind) as columns, and each new day as a row. Each meal has three lines, and its individual setup - breakfast and lunch have colored "slots" for fruit and veg - I can eat anything, but planning is about being more selective, so I choose from a quite limited range of foods for breakfast, and more options for lunch. Breakfast is usually some kind of bread or porridge, always milk, fruit, and veg. Lunch can be that (but never the same as breakfast) or egg, or salad, or noodles, hot cocoa, smoothie, unplanned leftovers, or really whatever I want that I can get my hands on.

    Dinners are rotated through the week, and slightly differerent from week to week. Most of them are some combo of protein, starch and veg, but I also eat soups and pancakes and casseroles. Simple, easy and delicious.

    Meal planning goes hand in hand with grocery shopping, so I plan according to what's on sale and in season; some of my favorite stores don't post their prices online so I won't know what's cheap and tempting until I get there, and even announced items can be sold out; this means that I have to be flexible. I buy low-perishables in bulk and on sale whenever possible, and keep my eye out for good bargains. I usually shop for perishables twice per week, and aim to buy just what I need until next shopping trip, but I am flexible. I fill in the plan as I go, with what I want to eat when, and what I have on hand, prioritizing perishables. The plan becomes a log as I eat, and it's great to be able to look back to what I like and have a wide range of favorite meals to pick from.

    When I cook and eat, I weigh and count whenever possible, not primarily for the calories (even though I may calculate calories for a completely new dish), but to be able to eat up before it spoils and have decent portions and meals, instead of odd bits and pieces. And I always know when I'm running out of or low on something.

    I'm in maintenance, and I weigh myself every day, so I don't have to be accurate with my calorie intake from day to day. Over time, it evens out, or to be more precise - whenever I see any creep, I cut down on snacks, and my weight goes slowly down again.
  • livingleanlivingclean
    livingleanlivingclean Posts: 11,751 Member
    I pre plan, and during the week I'll eat the same thing every day. I don't get bored, but if I do I'll change it up the next week

    This helps me with meal prep and food shopping - I can buy in bulk, I waste less and prep is quicker
  • Relax_Its_Just_Burpees
    Thanks guys. @kommodevaran @livingleanlivingclean

    I think I need to prep like you two.
  • distinctlybeautiful
    distinctlybeautiful Posts: 1,041 Member
    edited June 2017
    I eat the same thing all week too, at least for my food at work, and it's nothing I have to cook, which means my "meal prep" consists of portioning out the quark (a sort of yogurt) and cottage cheese. I switch up the fruits I put in the quark and the veggies I put in the cottage cheese, but the base is always the same. Breakfast and dinner are less planned, which I think helps avoid getting bored with what I'm eating. I've gotten a bit more into cooking lately, so sometimes on Sundays I'll try a dinner-type recipe and then portion it out for the week, although that's as much for easier storing as it is to have it easily ready for me to eat. As for logging, I log my work foods ahead of time on Sundays but not my breakfasts or dinners. I just use my MFP diary, and I just pay attention to calories and protein.
  • NoLimitFemme
    NoLimitFemme Posts: 118 Member
    I usually eat the same breakfast everyday and meal prep the same lunch/dinner for 2 days. Last night I prepped 97/3 ground turkey, Mexican rice, and steamed veggies. I made 2 lunches and 2 dinners plus a 5th plate to vacume seal and freeze for a random day. I'll eat that for two days and prep again. I usually throw leftovers away after 3 days so this cycle works great for me.
  • Lizzy622
    Lizzy622 Posts: 3,705 Member
    edited June 2017
    I started just with dinner. Once I was confident with that planning breakfast lunch and snack wasn't as big a challenge. I like getting the circular for my local store and planning from there based on the sales and what's in season. Meal planning and eating healthy does not need to be expensive. I have actually saved because I am not buying as much processed or take out foods.
  • sardelsa
    sardelsa Posts: 9,812 Member
    I am very similar to the poster above. I have the same breakfast everyday, I typically meal prep my lunches for the week or else I will have leftovers or make something at home. It changes weekly. This week was miso soup with chicken and veggies.

    Snacks are usually the same.. Greek yogurt, protein or fibre bars, fruit, cheese etc.

    Dinner changes all the time, mostly planned out on the weekend or depends what I have in my house and what I am in the mood for.
  • alyssa_rest
    alyssa_rest Posts: 276 Member
    I don't eat breakfast, but I make my dinner/lunch plan on Sunday. After I write down the ingredients I need, I run to the store and get only those items (saves money too, because you avoid just grabbing random items). I only cook for 2, so leftovers become lunch the next day.

    Snacks are always greek yogurt and light cheese and I keep them in the fridge at work and home so they're always on hand.
  • CaladriaNapea
    CaladriaNapea Posts: 140 Member
    I have the same breakfast every day and mostly the same lunch (it's always a salad with either bok choy, brussel sprouts, or broccoli as the base with avocado and either canned chicken or tuna). I always have the exact same protein shake in the afternoon for snack, which really only leaves dinner. For dinners I always include a vegetable and protein, usually with bread or rice on the side for my husband to fill up on. I plan meals around what's cheap, makes good leftovers, and keeps hubby happy. Probably once every two weeks I'll make a dish like cheesy pasta calorie bomb for my husband to enjoy while I eat a backup dinner that I always keep handy: Greek yogurt, almonds, wheat germ, and blueberries.

    (Just to clarify: I have nothing against calorie bombs in moderation. However, cheesy pasta is just not my thing or even remotely worth any calories to me.)
  • Tazzie0208
    Tazzie0208 Posts: 66 Member
    I am prepping my breakfasts only as I start into this make-ahead menus. Lunch is always light at work and sometimes I skip dinner because my last snack is at 4pm and I'm still at work. I am working on menus according to easiness and nutrition. Printed the 21 day fix recipe book recently so I will work from that. Good luck!!
  • lemurcat12
    lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886 Member
    I have the same breakfast most days. My lunches I often make in advance (often with dinner leftovers). Dinner is based around protein (what I have -- one kind of planning is getting out the proteins I will use over the next few days to defrost from the freezer or otherwise making sure they are available) and vegetables. I buy what's in season for vegetables (I get a CSA box and supplement from the green market this time of year) and then build my meals based on what I have. I mostly DON'T plan in advance particularly, but work with what I have and plan in my head.
  • StealthHealth
    StealthHealth Posts: 2,417 Member
    I tend to plan my food one or two weeks in advance.

    This is my routine:
    • I look in the fridge and cupboards and look at what food is going to hit sell by date in the next week or so.
    • I look in the freezer and see what meat I have.
    • I use a pen and paper to plan out my lunches and evening meals (ensuring that I'm using up anything that is getting old) - I have, over time, built a fairly extensive repertoire of meals but they are usually 150 - 200g of leanish meat, a starchy carb, a vegetable or two and tend to come in at 500 to 700 cals.
    • I put the list in the kitchen draw so that I can remember what I'm planning on having each day!
    • I'll usually batch prep these meals over a day or couple of days; eating a portion fresh, a portion for lunch the following day, and then freezing the rest as individual meals. But, sometimes I'll have a mass prepping session and then not cook from scratch for a few weeks.
    • Sometimes I'll freeze up in double portions because I plan to use that as a meal for MrsStealthHealth and myself.
    • I freeze all meals in cheap plastic, stackable tubs with snap on lids (I buy the 750 mls and 1l ones from Amazon) and write the contents with a fine sharpie on a piece of masking tape which I stick to the lid.
    • For single ingredient meals (example: chicken breast, sweet pot, and broc) I write the raw food weights on the label. For more complex dishes (example a curry) I'll enter it all into MFP as a recipe and write the MFP recipe title and date on the lid (example: "Chicken and lentil curry 15/Jun/17"). This way I can easily and accurately log my food.
    • If my weekly plan needs shopping I tend to jot down a shopping list and get that all in one go (but don't usually need to buy much more than the veg because I buy most of my meat online and tend to bulk buy my seafood frozen).

    This process has served me well and gives me plenty of flexibility because I tend to have a fridge and freezer with a variety of lunches and evening meals.

    I don't tend to eat breakfast, but on a daily basis I will pre-log my prepared lunch and evening meal and then flex my snacks and supper to hit my calories/macros for that day. This also means that MrsStealthHealth can flex her breakfast/snacks/supper based on her goals.

    I'm a big fan of slow cookers (croc-pots for the US readers) but recently I've been doing a lot more tray bake type meals. Batch prep in general means less prep but these two techniques reduce prep and washing up time further.

    Additionally, If for example I'm heating the oven up, I'm likely to throw in any veg that I have knocking around with a glug of olive oil (measured) in, in a separate tray and, when cooled, store it in a mason jar in the fridge to be added to other meals as and when.

    One more tip is that I try hard to minimise cooking methods for a given meal - So for example if I'm steaming fish I would try to plan steamed starch and vegetables a sides rather than having steamed fish, grilled peppers and baked potato. This method uses less energy and usually means less washing up (which is something that I HATE doing)
  • hcdo
    hcdo Posts: 201 Member
    I make my meals ahead of time, usually on Sundays. I tend to eat the same thing each day, which may be boring for some, but I hate to cook and I like to get it all out of the way in one day if I can. Then I just grab and go. I switch it up once I get bored, and I also look at what's on sale to see what's best to buy that week. Currently eating Greek yogurt, toast with almond butter, and eggs for breakfast, chicken salad with a bunch of random veggies (and sometimes fruit) for lunch, and ground turkey taco bowls for dinner. Sometimes cottage cheese with fruit for snack. I like having everything already set for the week so I don't have to think about it. I know how much each day will be, calorie-wise, and I always try and keep a little wiggle room for unexpected treats/cravings.
  • janejellyroll
    janejellyroll Posts: 25,763 Member
    I plan my meals for the week on Sunday afternoons. I look at what I've got, pick out recipes, and assign them to specific days with the goal of being generally balanced for nutrition and calories. I go shopping on Mondays. I cook dinner at home six nights a week and my breakfast and lunches are usually leftovers from previous meals. Meal prepping in a formal way isn't for me, but I'm kinda doing it for breakfast and lunches by eating leftovers.

    I pre-log each day's meals the day before so the day of I only have to make adjustments for specific weights and any extras I am adding (I leave a bit of room in my calories each day to add snacks or condiments to meals).
  • purplepadres
    purplepadres Posts: 36 Member
    I usually do prep on the weekend. I started using the Real Plans website a year ago, and it makes shopping list and prep timelines for me. I do a big cookup on Sunday, which usually includes a breakfast casserole or hash that I can eat for 3-4 days, and one to two dinner entrees--each dinner also includes enough leftovers to take for lunch the following day. I also roast a giant tray of vegetables that I can throw in with my meals. I try to plan easy meals for nights where I'm "richly scheduled" and don't have time to make anything elaborate, and am out of leftovers. It usually includes throwing some protein in the Instant Pot or on the grill while I steam some veg.