Meal Planning on the Go
by Joseph Packo
Would you ever go on vacation without planning which airline you would take to your destination? Which hotel you will be staying at? What restaurants and attractions are nearby? Unless you don’t mind a potentially disastrous trip, of course not! So when it comes to starting or maintaining your diet, why not plan ahead? Without a little roadmap to help you with meal planning each week, you may be headed for disaster. Meal planning is the easiest way to set yourself up for success and takes just a short amount time and effort to ensure that you have a great guide to set out on your personal dieting journey.
First things first. Set aside a day to make your list and begin your planning. Before going grocery shopping for the following week, take into account these simple ideas:
How many meals will you need? On the ITG Diet Plan in Step 1, you are already covered for breakfast, lunch, and a snack each day. That’s why ITG stands for “It’s The Greatest!” You only need to plan for your vegetables, salad and lean protein. Four pounds of your choice of lean beef, poultry and seafood will be just enough to give you 8 nights with an 8 ounce dinner portion of protein. Going a little lighter for dinner and having 5 ounce portions? Freeze your proteins and have enough for almost two whole weeks of dinner portions. Depending on the vegetable, usually around 2 cups will be equivalent to about 1 pound.
How much time will you have? If your home or work schedule for the upcoming week is going to be hectic, plan ahead for meals that are quick to prepare, or use a slow cooker all day for a dinner that will be ready when you get home. One of the best tips to follow is to cook a double or triple portion of your favorite items all at once for quickly reheated leftovers in the following days.
Having some cravings? Your cravings will dictate how well you can stick to your diet. If you ignore them, you may have some trouble during the week ahead. Pay attention to what you are feeling in the mood for. Weather also affects our food moods. If the weather is getting chilly or you like something a bit heartier, stock up on proteins such as steak or beef and plan for a stew with seasoned vegetables. In summer months, lighter items such as shrimp over cooked greens or salmon with asparagus will not weigh you down in the heat. Check out our ITG Diet Recipe Section for delicious meals and twists on old favorites that you may want to give a whirl in your own kitchen.
Next, Get ready to have fun and create a plan for your upcoming week.
- Make a master list of recipes you love to cook (and eat!). As you find other recipes you enjoy, add them to the list for easy access. ITG Diet has many recipes that are quick, simple and delicious and they can bulk up your recipe list if it is lacking. Use a 3-ring binder to organize them, and group them with tabs to keep similar recipes together.
- Grab a pen and paper or a small calendar and plug recipes into each day that fit in with your weekly timeframe.
- Pick a couple of your favorites and add one or two more new ones and spread them out through the week.
- Try to avoid planning a complicated meal when you have a busy day. Plan to cook a double portion or a recipe that can be enjoyed as leftovers the following day to save time.
- Make a grocery list of the proteins and vegetables you will need. As you choose each recipe, write down the ingredients or use a list app on your mobile phone to keep it handy and easy to edit.
- Try to group similar recipes in the same week so you will not have to buy a large assortment of items that can’t be used interchangeably. Play your weekly recipe list like a jigsaw puzzle to make sure everything fits together and you do not overwhelm yourself with too many groceries.
- Buy frozen foods for a broader assortment to use in your weekly recipes without worrying that they will go bad.
- Take inventory of what is in your kitchen already and cross off any items that you do not need to buy.
- Choose the right time to shop – don’t go to the grocery store hungry! Stay in the outer aisles of the store where the healthy, fresh proteins and vegetables reside, away from the processed food aisles in the middle of the store.
After your first successful week, you will be able to continue with your new confidence in planning healthy, delicious meals on the go.
Joseph is a Certified ITG Coach at ITG Diet Corporate Headquarters in Saint Petersburg, Florida.