What will you eat for the next week? Many of us aren’t even sure what we’re going to eat during our next meal. When you don’t do meal planning it can cause problems like eating too much or eating the “wrong” foods. One approach you can take is to plan meals for one day. You can also take it to the next level and prepare three square meals via 7-day healthy eating plans. This allows you to pick healthy foods to make sure you’re getting enough protein, grains, fruits/veggies, and dairy. You can also ensure you’re getting enough nutrients like vitamins and minerals. Week-long meal planning also helps to control calories carbs and fat.
Besides the meal plans, you’ll also have to make a shopping list. This is another way you’ll be eating healthier. When you have to buy stuff for the next 21 meals, you’ll also have to limit how many snack foods or sodas you can get. You’ll be more likely to buy junk food when we don’t bring a shopping list to the grocery store. Another plus is it can save you money on food with little or no nutritional value. Fun Fact: over one-third of US adults eat fast food on any given day.
Benefits of Eating Plans
When your blood sugar decreases you’re more likely to eat whatever is available. This can often include unhealthy stuff like a bag of potato chips or bacon double cheeseburger. A 7-day meal plan can help to prevent that since you can plan healthy meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
If you have healthy food available then you’ll be more likely to eat it. That includes lean meats, whole grains, and fruits/veggies.
People have different reasons for saving money. One of the best ways to do that is by making eating plans. This helps to save money you’d have spent on junk food, fast food restaurants, and so on.
The key is to actually buy what you put on your shopping list. If you do that then you can save tons of money each day, week, and month.
One of the biggest problems with modern eating isn’t just related to what people are eating. We’re also eating too much. When you make meal plans, you’ll know how much you’re eating.
This can be tougher when you eat at a restaurant buffet, for example. In that case, the sky’s the limit. However, even if you order something on the menu the portion size will probably be larger than you need. This issue was highlighted in the movie “Super Size Me” (2004).
This might be surprising since you’ll have to spend time to plan your week’s meals. However, in the long-term, you’ll be saving time. That’s because you’ll already have your meals planned for the next 7 days.
For example, consider how much time we often spend opening our fridge and thinking about what we want to prepare. It might seem like a lot of time but it adds up for an entire week. That’s why a better approach is to plan out your daily meals
7-day Healthy Eating Plan
Not only can you make an eating plan for one day but also for one week. Here are some things to include:
Fruits and veggies
The USDA’s nutrition guidelines MyPlate recommend making half your food intake fruits and veggies. Fun fact: Under 20 of the world’s 20,000 edible plant species make up 90% of modern diets.
When planning your meals make sure to focus on veggies in particular. You have a wide range of options including sweet potatoes, tomatoes, squash, greens, and broccoli. You can even get adventurous and add a new vegetable to your weekly meal plan.
You also have many options for fruits. Some of the best options are apples, oranges, bananas, melons, and grapes. You can even try some tropical fruits like mangoes and avocados.
Every meal should be built around protein. Make sure to pick a lean protein like chicken, fish, and seafood. Even meats like beef and chicken can be lean if you pick lean cuts and healthy cooking options.
Don’t forget plant-based protein. This includes beans, nuts, seeds, and tofu. If you’re vegan/vegetarian in particular then beans are a great option in terms of nutrition and variety.
Dairy products along with meats contain all essential amino acids (EAAs) people must get from foods. You have many options like milk, cheese, and yogurt. A full-fat dairy is a good option because it contains “good” fat and also boosts metabolism.
Skim/low-fat dairy includes fewer calories and carbs. However, fat is often replaced with unhealthy stuff like salt.
MyPlate recommends making at least half your grains whole grains. This includes ones like whole wheat, oatmeal, corn, brown rice, barley, and rye. Whole grains provide benefits like Vitamin Bs and fiber. They also don’t cause your blood sugar to spikes like white rice and white bread.
Making a Healthy Shopping List
This is a key step when doing a 7-day healthy eating plan. However, you should also take some important steps before you step inside a local supermarket.
The first step is to think about the approach you want to take when planning meals. For example, do you just want to cut calories? There are other approaches like 18-24 hour intermittent fasting (IF), One Meal a Day (OMAD), low-carb Atkins, or low-carb/high-fat Keto.
Make sure to think about your health and weight loss goals when picking a diet. This will help you to select the right foods and meals that follow the diet approach you select.
Then it’s a matter of planning meals/snacks for the next week. Make sure you’re picking ingredients/meals that maintain a balanced diet. For example, you should be getting enough carbs, protein, and good fats. You’ll also need micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
Remember that “variety is the spice of life.” You probably won’t want to eat the same breakfast for a full week, for example. Try to add variety to your meal plans to avoid that situation.
You can also try to add in some new ingredients like a new veggie every week. You’ll be surprised by the different products you’ve never tried before.
Another factor is how much time and effort you have to prepare certain dishes. You might find the “perfect” dish but if it’s a 20-ingredient recipe that takes hours to prepare it might not be the right one for you. Some out-of-season ingredients might also be expensive.
Finally, when you go grocery shopping it’s important to follow the list to a tee. What’s the point of making a shopping list if you don’t stick to it?
This will help to make sure you have 21 healthy meals (and snacks) for the next week. You’ll then have everything you need to follow your 7-day healthy eating plan.