There are different reasons why individuals create personalized meal plans. It can be used for weight loss, for building more lean muscles (especially for body builders), prevention and mitigation of medical conditions, or simply to know what to prepare each day. Saving money is also a good reason why some people create meal plans.
By having a meal plan, you take out the guesswork in preparing meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You also don't have to go running to the nearest take-out place to grab costly as well as unhealthy food choices. Having a meal plan allows you to plan your trips to the grocery saving on time and gas.
Creating a meal plan
To create your own personal meal plan:
Decide why you need a meal plan. You need to establish why you are creating a meal plan. Your food choices will partly be based on this reason. For example, if you are creating a meal plan in order to save money, then you know that the foods you choose should be within the price you can afford. If it is for diabetes prevention, you know sugary foods and empty carbohydrates are no-nos.
Establish your dietary requirements. Make sure your meal plan is within the limits of the amount of calories your body needs based on the life you lead. If you have heart disease, diabetes, need to lose weight, ask your doctor for dietary recommendations. You can also consult with a nutritionist or dietitian.
Prepare the table/chart. Meal plans usually cover one whole week. The first column should indicate the different meals - breakfast, lunch and dinner. If allowed, you can include two snacks in between meals. The rest of the columns are for the days of the week. If you have special dietary needs, you may want to create additional columns.
If you don't want to make your own table, check the following sites for pre-made tables or charts:
Create the plan. Using the table or chart, write down the specific foods that you plan to have per meal each day. The foods you choose should be based on steps 1 and 2. Fill the whole chart. There should be a good balance of foods across meals and days. You can find resources online that provide sample meal plans to get some ideas. With a bit of searching you may even come across a free pre-made meal plan that you can use.
Don't forget to check what food items you have on hand in the refrigerator and the food pantry so you can use them before their expiration date. This eliminates food wastage and saves you money.
Put up your meal plan. After scrutinizing your meal plan and making sure that it answers why you need one, place your meal plan on the refrigerator or cupboard door. It should be in a place where you can easily refer to it each day.
A meal plan can be created weekly or monthly. You can also reuse a meal plan for a future date. To recycle your personal meal plan, switch up a few items for variety. Prepare a grocery list together with the plan so you can have all the ingredients on hand when you need them. Meals plans are a big help especially if you are busy and don't have time to think what should be on your plate every day.