March is the time of year when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to celebrate National Nutrition Month®, and this year’s theme, “Put Your Best Fork Forward,” is meant to remind us to make healthier choices, one bite at a time.
While you’re on an Isagenix System consisting of Shake Days and Cleanse Days, you’re also encouraged to make healthier choices on Shake Days for your “third meals” through balanced eating. We’re more likely to make healthful eating choices when we prepare meals at home, but tight schedules can make cooking on weeknights a real challenge.
Meal planning is a simple solution that can make a big difference in helping you reach your health and weight-loss goals. Planning meals in advance takes the stress out of trying to decide what’s for dinner every night and will end the temptation to get takeout when you’re feeling tired at the end of a long day. Here are three meal planning tips to make healthy week-night meals a snap.
1. Look ahead.
Consider your schedule for the coming week. Decide how many meals you will be preparing at home and which nights you will be the most crunched for time. You’ll want to plan something that you can make ahead for your most busy nights. Take Cleanse Days into account, since you won’t need to worry about cooking for yourself on these days. Three or four meals may be all you need for a week, particularly if you plan for a night to use up leftovers.
2. Get organized.
Jot down your menu idea for each night of the week, and collect any recipes you plan to use. Consider what part of each meal you can prepare in advance. Some meals that reheat well, like soups, stews, and pasta dishes, can be made over the weekend and enjoyed during the week. Other dishes, like salads or stir-fry can be started ahead by cutting veggies and pre-portioning ingredients to make weeknight cooking fast and easy. Make a quick check of your fridge and pantry to see what you have on hand before you make your shopping list, and you will be ready to breeze through your week’s shopping.
3. Set your foundation with good nutrition.
Planning nutritionally balanced meals is all about picking the right portions. You may need to make minor adjustments to recipes to make them more nutritionally balanced. For example, if you are planning a pasta dish, you might double the amount of vegetables in your recipe and reduce the amount of pasta you serve.
When you’re planning a meal, it’s easiest to start by choosing your vegetables. Plan a portion that is about the size of two fists, or about half your plate. Next, pick your lean protein. Use the palm or your hand or about a quarter of your plate as a guide for portion size. Fill the remaining quarter of your plate with energy-fueling carbohydrates and finish out your meal with a tablespoon of good fats, or a portion about the size of the end of your thumb.
Investing a little time in meal planning each week can really pay off. Looking ahead at your schedule and getting organized with a few weeknight meals can help to save time and cut stress. More importantly, meal planning helps you enjoy more nutritious meals at home and cut your reliance on less healthful options.
Your Isagenix System helps take the guesswork out of nutrition and portion control. By adding meal planning to your weekly routine, it will also be easier to make healthier choices, one bite at a time.