“I don’t know what I should eat!”
I get told this a few times a week, and it seems like a real sticking point for people with their diets. It need not be complicated, I’m going to make a 3 step process to help you piece together some meal plans.
Step 1: Make a list of foods that you like.
Split these lists into protein (which comes from animals, or is an animal product replacement), carbs and fats. You can get some help with ideas from this document which you can download. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it gives you a starting point. Your meal should have a palm sized portion of protein, a thumb sized portion of fats and a cupped hand of carbs (double for men). Or sort your plate out like your mother taught you: a quarter meat or fish, a quarter starchy carbs, and half vegetables or salad.
Step 2: Make a meal plan.
The biggest stumbling block for people’s diets is that they’re not organised about getting proper food in. That means they end up snacking, eating out, or eating off plan. Here’s a super simple document that will help you plan your food for the week in advance. Start by writing in any off-plan foods (birthdays, meals out, etc) that you know about in advance. Then you can fill in the gaps, and know which days are likely to be calorie heavy days that you have to plan ahead for. Be smart, and batch cook where you can. Make tomorrow’s lunch out of tonight’s leftovers – don’t reinvent the wheel.
Step 3: From this plan, make a shopping list.
Obviously if you already have bits at home to use up, prioritise this in your cooking. The one to watch is fresh, fridge based proteins the might have a short use by date. Cook this first, and only buy what you need – based on your meal plan for the week.
Cooking need not be complex, but if you’re used to eating in a particular way it can be a challenge to shift to cooking more at home, or cooking smaller portions, or even just planning in advance. Take an inventory of where you’re at right now. When I first started, my goal was to cook at home once a week as I was eating out or getting takeaways pretty much every day. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make healthier changes for yourself, it’ll save you money and there’s always room to improve. You don’t have to make huge changes all at once for them to have a positive impact on your health (and your budget!).