Meal Plan Basics – How to Make Your Life More Efficient!
Today I will be talking about how to meal plan to help you save time, money, and improve your health! Meal planning may seem like a daunting task or a headache but it is truly simple. Pick a day where you have 1-2 hours to cook. You can do your shopping on a separate day or the same day if you have time. Play some music and make this time fun instead of another chore.
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So let’s get into it!
- Determine your TDEE
TDEE refers to your total daily energy expenditure, the number of calories you burn every day. This is based on your age, gender, height, weight, activity levels, and (optional: body fat percentage). Your BMR (basal metabolic rate) is first calculated and then that value is multiplied by your personal rate of daily activity. Since your basal metabolic rate is the number of calories you burn at rest, the TDEE calculation can provide a more accurate picture in terms of calorie consumption. MyFitnessPal is a good app to use if you want to give calorie counting a try. Calorie counting is not the best method for everyone but it is good to do for a while to help you understand portion sizes and their related caloric amount.
If you’re looking to gain weight, try to adjust your daily calorie consumption so that at the end of the week you are in a caloric surplus. You can start with an extra 200 calories on top of your TDEE and then work your way up to 500 and 700 calories. Be careful with the type of calories you are consuming and do not eat fast food as a way to get more calories. Combine your weight gain journey with a healthy lifestyle and try to exercise regularly!
Losing weight requires the same adjustment to your calorie consumption. For moderate weight loss, reduce your daily calories to around 200-300 less and for a more intense weight loss reduce your calories to 500-600 less. Also, try to incorporate some daily exercise to supplement your weight loss journey. Remember: you can not outrun a bad diet! Do not use your daily exercise as a way to justify extra portions- this is a failing mentality. Focus on your diet as the means to lose weight and exercise as a given.
2. Use a scale
A food scale is a great way to portion out your meal plan and help with cooking. This way is the most accurate and is commonly used by those who are bodybuilding or fitness models. If you are portioning out your breakfast, lunch, and dinner- it can be a headache to measure everything with a measuring cup and can be inaccurate because of the variation of density. For example, if you need to eat around 350 calories for breakfast, it is easy to count one large apple, x grams almonds, x grams of oatmeal, and x millilitres of oat milk! This may seem foreign at first but you will quickly learn to love it!
3. Try new recipes
Do not be afraid of trying out new recipes! Meal plans may seem boring if you’re eating the same meal for 5 days straight. I personally don’t mind eating the same meal often if it tastes good but some people can not stand it. If you are meal planning for 5 days, try to give yourself at least 2 different options for each meal to spice it up. Find new, healthy recipes to try out every week!
If you are trying to gain weight, you either have a fast metabolism or not much of an appetite no worries! You don’t have to gorge yourself on large meals 5-6 times a day to reach your goals. You need to focus on adding calorie-dense foods to every meal. What does this mean? Calorically dense foods are foods that contain a high amount of calories relative to their weight. This means you don’t have to eat a lot of this food to eat a lot of calories.
For example, 100g macadamia nuts are 708 calories! To be fair, eating 100g of macadamia nuts is surely too much fat and would not be enjoyable but adding in 25g of nuts to your daily oatmeal or yogurt and instantly give you some extra calories without the large serving size. Research into healthy calorically dense foods and try to incorporate some in all your meals.
If you looking to lose weight, you might yourself a fan of some calorically dense foods! Not to worry, you don’t have to start eating out of a baby dish to lose weight, you just need to adjust the types of food you. You need to lean into nutritiously dense low-calorie foods! Compare two slices of pizza and a large salad with a bunch of vegetables and some high protein beans. Not even looking at the calories, which food is providing the biggest nutritious impact? Which food make you feel more full afterwards? Fruits and vegetables are mostly low in calories and nutritiously dense. Try to stay away from the processed food (even the low sodium, low sugar, diet version of things), take-out (and eating out), and focus on eating whole foods- especially vegetables and fruits.
4. Purchase in bulk
Purchasing your food in bulk can help save you a headache when it comes to making your meal plan. Going to places like Costco or the Farmer’s market can prove to be helpful when you starting your home-cooking journey. Research into the lifespan of your fresh food and how to store them to keep them fresh longer! Don’t fall into the trap of buying a bunch of fresh food and then ordering in and letting it spoil. Buy it, cook it, freeze it, store it, and then eat it when you’re ready.
Do you meal plan? Do you love to cook or is it more of a chore for you? What new recipes are you looking forward to adding to your meal plan? Let me know in the comments below!
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