Shawn P. Conlin

Losing It!


Current Weight Loss
Starting Weight: 275 Lbs
Target Weight: 200 Lbs
264 lbs
Meal Planning & Food Prep

These are two of the most time-consuming steps when trying to lose weight or just eat healthier. They are also very important, since most people will look for something convenient to eat over another choice if they don't have a plan in place (I know I do). Whenever my family and I have implemented planning, we have found it is best to pick a day to sacrifice to the process. This allows us to plan out the week, get the shopping done, and do some cooking ahead so we don't have to work those things in throughout the week.

Meal Planning

There are many ways to go about meal planning—and all of them are time-consuming. Add other people into the mix and you could find yourself wishing you didn't need to eat at all. My planning tends to be based on who is around and what our energy levels are.

When no one wants to be bothered, I find it is best to do the planning as basic as possible by keeping the plan to dinners only and just listing main course: Chicken Monday, Beef Tuesday, Pasta Wednesday, Pork Thursday, Fish Friday, Leftovers Weekend. This allows us to at least do some shopping even if we don't have all of the details. Sometimes, this method is modified for cuisine resulting in a similar list: Thai Monday, Italian Tuesday, Korean Wednesday, Mexican Thursday, etc.

We use my favorite method of planning when we have the time and enough energy to do it. This is when we sit down together with cookbooks, websites, and recipe collections and decide on exactly what we'll be having for dinner during the week. We usually plan out lunches during these sessions as well, based on planned leftovers and "make ahead" recipes. Breakfast is always a question since we rarely get up at the same time and don't all like the same things. As such, we always keep our go-to foods on hand. I personally like to plan my breakfasts since it is an important meal for me.

Whether you plan everything down to the crumb or just make the roughest skeleton, taking the time to figure out what you are going to be eating helps with planning groceries and doing the daily tracking of food/calorie intake. So long as you have a general idea of the ingredients you need, you will be able to get your shopping done without adding too many extras or buying stuff you won't use during the week.

Food Prep

After planning out meals and shopping for any items you don't have, it's time to do some food prep. This may be as simple as cutting up vegetables for snacks or making a recipe that gets divided into servings and stored. I like to make a few things to keep on hand for breakfasts and lunches such as breakfast burritos or white rice—which is frozen in 1-cup servings for making bentos or using as a quick side dish. I sometimes do this with desserts as well. I have an apple crisp recipe that makes 8 servings. I purchased a set of 6-ounce baking cups so I can bake individual servings and set them aside. Using serving-size bakeware or storage helps keeps me honest.

Overall, I have found that spending a few hours cooking ahead makes life throughout the week so much easier. If you are pressed for time, you don't have to worry about measuring things out; just grab the pre-packed food and go.

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