I saw this question on SparkPeople the other day and it intrigued me. Planning meals is such an important part of eating healthy. Eating healthy for life – not just while you are losing weight.
I am a perfect example of this. When I was first married I never planned the first thing for dinner. Almost every night without fail I’d ask John where he was taking me out for dinner. He’d laugh and off we’d go Bennigan’s, Ruby Tuesday or McDonald’s. I’d order the biggest thing on the menu and then pick the dessert that best suited my mood at the moment. No planning=restaurant meals=weight gain.
After I began having children I did get a little better with meal planning. There were still many, many nights where we went out to dinner, but I at least had the beginnings of a meal planning system. My problem during that time of my life was that I wasn’t trying to plan healthy meals. Instead I just planned on cooking whatever sounded good to me at the moment, whether it was fried chicken or corn dogs. (I’m embarrassed to admit that one.)
As my weight loss finally got going, meal planning took on a whole new importance. Now I was planning meals to avoid going out to eat, to feed myself and my family wholesome food, and lose weight. I wasn’t perfect at getting it all right, but we did substantially reduce the number of restaurant meals we ate on a weekly basis.
After I reached my goal weight I didn’t fall back into my old “restaurant most nights of the week” habit. Instead, I continued on with my meal planning. Why? Because I didn’t want to gain my weight back. I had made such a drastic physical change and I still needed to work on making my lifestyle changes permanent.
Now, 12 – almost 13 years later, I still plan meals. I plan my meals the night before I go grocery shopping. I generally try and make one new meal a week, three vegetarian meals and three family staples. Planning the night before gives me plenty of time to think about what I want to make. I take into account what family activities we have each evening. If the kids have a function to attend, I make a meal that I can prepare early enough for them to eat alone and the rest of the family to eat later.
I am flexible with my meals. There are nights when 4:30 rolls around and I have done zero to prepare for the dinner meal. On those nights, though, we don’t go out to dinner. Instead, I make one of my fall back menus, like black bean enchiladas, breakfast for dinner or baked chicken and veggies.
I’m curious to know. When do you plan your meals and why then? Diane