The most wonderful time of the year also seems to be the busiest time of the year! So, we work extra hard to make sure healthy meals are on the table and we don’t end up with fast food or meal out at a restaurant. What’s the key? Preparation. We do as much prep work as possible on the weekend or on a free weeknight. We make a grocery list to ensure we have everything we need for an entire week. I call it a haul! We plan for quick low carb breakfasts. Like egg muffins or low carb yogurts. We always have deli meats/cheeses and low carb wraps to pack lunches every day. But, it’s the dinners that really take some effort.
Here’s how I plan for a week of dinners:
- Start with the protein. Choose two low-fat meats or protein sources that you will use as your base. We eat one for 3-4 nights and the other for 3-4 nights. For instance, I’ll pick chicken and ground beef. Which ever has the shorter shelf life will go first. On Sunday night, I will bake 12 chicken breasts. A little salt and pepper and that’s it. 350 degrees for 1 hour. Once cooled, I store them in a tupperware container in the fridge. Then, I’ll plan meals using that chicken for Sunday-Wed. We’ll have chicken with rice and broccoli night one. Chicken strips on a salad night two. Chicken stir fry night three. And homemade chicken salad in lettuce boats night 4. Meal prep is quick because the protein is already cooked, and just needs to be mixed or heated. Then on Thursday, I’ll sauté 2 lbs of ground beef and divide it into 3 containers. We’ll have tacos on Thursday, meat sauce on spaghetti squash on Friday, and sloppy joes (on thin wheat sandwich buns) or chili on Saturday.
- Next, choose your veggies. I make sure each meal has plenty of non-starch veggies. We eat a large green salad at least 3 nights a week. Sometimes spinach, sometimes leafy or romaine lettuce, sometimes a kale/slaw bag mix. We make it interesting with the salad toppings changing every time. We also eat broccoli, green beans, and asparagus (always steamed or roasted) no less than once a week.
- Make the starch last by serving only one 1/2 cup portion a night (or how ever much is 1 serving according to the box). If I make rice, pasta, risotto, couscous, sweet potato, or any other starch, I make enough for two nights, and serve each person which a measuring cup. No seconds in my house, because it means I have to cook again tomorrow. That’s a no-no! You can have seconds of veggies all you want. Thirds even. And if you still aren’t satisfied, we have low carb yogurts in dessert flavors, and portion-controlled nut pouches to curb late night cravings.
How do you meal plan? Share your tips with us!