“Fail to plan, plan to fail” – Winston Churchill
If you want to take eating clean seriously, you need to plan, plan, plan. Otherwise, you’re going to get home from work, be tired and hungry and you’re going to grab the most convenient thing – it’s usually junk food, or ready meals that are loaded with preservatives and salt.
Going back to your daily calorie needs that you worked out here, you can now divide that by the amount of times you want to eat a day. I’d recommend 5-6 to keep your metabolism up. Or you may want to do it another way, for example you might want to eat a bigger breakfast, or a bigger lunch. So you could minus the amount you’d like to eat for the big meal then divide the left over calories. This is really up to you. For ease, I just divided mine by 5-6 to get a range.
So, let’s say we’ve gone with 5 meals per day. Then you’d have Breakfast, Snack 1, Lunch, Snack 2 and Dinner. It’s easiest if you make a table (word) or a spreadsheet (excel) with the appropriate headers that you can keep as a template and either fill out on your computer, or print out blanks to fill in each week. I’ve included my template here for anyone who can’t be bothered to do their own: Meal Plan Template
This one is divided by 6 meals, but obviously you can edit that out, do whatever you like, it’s yours!
Now it’s up to you to fill out your template with all those healthy meals you want to try. For ease, I’d recommend batch cooking things such as brown rice, quinoa, etc just because then it’s always there and you can whip something up. Try to keep a few cans of tomatoes handy too, they make a nice quick sauce that you can cook up easily, i.e bolognaise, chilli, chicken cacciatore, etc. I also cook up a whole chicken at the start of the week, which will last me a couple of days.
An example day on your plan could look like this ( this is actually one of my days haha):
Breakfast – 40g oats with semi skimmed milk/water, 2 tbsp nonfat plain greek yoghurt, a handful of blueberries
Snack 1 – 1 scoop whey protein + 150ml water (post gym shake, if at home/work could make with 120ml milk)
Lunch – 85g (3oz) chicken breast with a greek salad (low fat feta)
Snack 2 – 1 small apple with 2 tbsp peanut butter (yum!)
Dinner – 115g (4oz) grilled fish, 85g (4oz) baked sweet potato, 2 cups steamed spinach
I highly recommend getting a food scale. I’d advise digital just because they are easier to read, and you can get some pretty cheap ones out there. In the UK, Argos do some good cheap ones. I’m afraid I can’t help with those outside of the UK, but if you have an IKEA in your country then I know that they do a decent cheap one!
I added a notes section to the end of the meal plan template for, well, notes! You might want to add how you’ve felt on that day, or do a total of your calories, protein, fats, carbs, fibre, etc. I can’t be bothered to work all those out myself, but I do use myfitnesspal to track what I’ve eaten so I know I’m eating roughly the amount I should be. I won’t obssess over calories and think “Oh, I’ve eaten 200 calories more than I was supposed to today, I better go for a run” – I only wanted to know my calorific needs to work out how much protein, carbs and fat I’d need to consume. Like Captain Barbosa says – they’re more like guidelines, than rules!
I quite like myfitnesspal for keeping my food diary, because then I can see how much protein, carbs and fats I’m getting and have a look at my vitamins and other nutrients. I also like it because it lets you set goals and you can track your progress, and it has a little badge on your dashboard that tells you how much you’ve lost/gained, which I find quite encouraging. It also has an exercise diary where you can put in your workouts, but I like to use Bodybuilding.com’s BodySpace to log my workouts because it’s more weight training oriented and it has an amazing exercise library. I know other people use other websites to keep track of their food/exercise but I haven’t tried any others because I didn’t feel the need to, but if anyone has used any others that they’d recommend, please let me know in the comments box so other people can see.
I’ll do another post soon for meal plan ideas to help anyone that’s feeling a bit merh about how to switch it up to stop it getting boring, or for those who don’t really know where to start. Hope this has been an informative post, thanks for reading!