A little planning goes a long way. Previously I would go to the grocery store without a list and just pick up the same things I always picked up, occasionally adding something because it looked yummy and I forgot to eat before shopping or because it was on sale. I can’t resist a sale. It’s shameful, I know, but a good deal always gets me tingly inside.
Once I started keeping track of things, I realized that this method usually ended with me adding something along the lines of red velvet cake flavored Oreos to my cart.
You know, just to try.
Incidentally, really good with milk.
It also led to me standing in the kitchen in the evenings staring into the pantry or fridge wondering what I could throw together that might actually look sort of healthy and like an actual meal.
Clearly not a plan that was in my best interest.
Hence, the meal plan. Since I generally go shopping on Sundays (sneaking in while all the good folks are still at church to avoid the crowds also known as Mimsy’s Crowd Avoidance Plan #238), I generally do my menu planning Friday afternoons. The first reason is that’s when I generally have some free time. The second is that I do my weekly weigh ins on Friday morning so the result of my weekly choices is fresh in my memory. So are the conversations with the mirror, both bad and good.
(‘Well, you did decide that you couldn’t let the last slice of cake go to waste didn’t you? Did you think because it had green icing the scale would be tricked into thinking it was salad?’ Or more positively, ‘Woo hoo, another pound bites the dust, oh yeah another pound bites the dust.’ In the spirit of transparency I should admit that one ended up with a happy dance and a doorknob shaped bruise, but I digress…)
So…Menu plans yeah…
On Friday, either success or defeat fresh in my mind, I plan out my menu. Then I make my grocery list. Typically I just jot the meals on my calendar and use a blank piece of paper torn from a notebook for this. If you want something more organized there are a lot of templates out there. (one free one I’ve found that is easily downloadable can be found HERE.) This lets me know what to buy, helping me use up things in the cabinet and not go off on crazy sprees in the store.
(I’m sure I need to go down the candy aisle for some completely logical reason that I can’t at the moment remember…)
It also helps with my calorie counting and lets me work in little treats without feeling like I’m negating all of my exercise. It also helps me deal with cravings.
If I find I’m craving warm bread straight from the oven, I might add Onion, Sage and Walnut Pinwheels to my menu for the week. And knowing when on my weekly menu I put them, I can adjust my work out and plan a salad based lunch to offset the bread and butter involved in said pinwheels.
As a final bonus, I also find I spend less. Since I cook almost every meal at home (eating out being a once a month or so treat) I can stock the staples keeping the basics ready to go in the pantry or plan to use leftover ingredients, making a purchase bought for one meal cover two and not go to waste in the back of my fridge.
While there are some days, I really don’t feel like eating what I planned that night, I have found having the plan helps with calories, time and money. And if I’m really not feeling it, since most of my meals are generally in the same caloric range, I can swap the days around until I come up with something that I really feel like eating that night. The actual planning took a little while to get used to, but after about a month, it became habit, and this is one habit I plan to keep for a while.