Nat Carter knows a thing or two about eating well. She’s a Personal Trainer and Transformation Coach from Sydney, working with clients to help them achieve their health and wellness goals.
Today she shares with us her top 5 tips for meal planning success.
1. A Hungry Shopper Is A Careless Shopper
NEVER go food shopping when you are hungry, tired or cranky. It just doesn’t work. Comfort food such as biscuits, chocolate and crisps can find their way into your trolley. Of course a treat here and there is okay, but keep it to an absolute maximum of 5% of your weekly grocery items. Remember: Healthy shopping turns into healthy eating. If you’re easily tempted, try ordering online to avoid unnecessary purchases.
2. The No Plan, Plan
I am a fan of choosing your most loved meals on a regular basis. A few of mine include: a bun-less burger, an “veggies only” night and a bolognese; either with pasta or zucchini spirals. I’ll have these on rotation every week. Write down your favourites and then create additional meals to fill the gaps.
Nat’s Tip: Don’t stress over creating new and exciting meals every night, just go with what you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just healthy & delicious. Start with your favourite lean protein (chicken, tofu, salmon, steak), greens (salad, veggies), a small portion of carbs (wholemeal pasta, brown rice, sweet potato) and some good quality fats (oil, avo, nuts or dairy).
3. Create your basic Healthy Shopping List: “The Mothership”
My list in ingrained in my brain, because I don’t deviate from it too much on a weekly basis. When at the grocery store, the stuff worth buying is generally on the outside perimeter. I save time by dodging the packaged food in the centre isles, any buying my fruits and veggies once a week. I buy meat in bulk and freeze it to get away with shopping for it fortnightly. I also do a shop for pantry item staples just once a month. The works for me because it fits around my work and life commitments. Why not create your own basic Healthy Shopping List, and review what works for you? You could save yourself a heap of time and effort.
Nat’s “Mothership” List:
- Free range eggs
- Greek yoghurt
- Fresh fish
- 2-4 different types of red/white meat (to freeze)
- Organic butter
- Loaf of sourdough or rye
- Organic milk
- A white cheese (cottage cheese, fetta, bocconcini etc)
- Fresh fruit and veg
4. Food Prep & Bulk Cooking
Once at home, I get preppin’. I buy meat in bulk, then divide it up into individual portions and freeze.
You can also cook things in batches for the week ahead to save time. Poach chicken breasts and shred into containers – ready to top salads and throw into stir fries. You can also try boiling eggs and storing them in the fridge ready for a quick and healthy snack.
Repeat after me: Bulk or batch cooking is your friend! It can be as simple as making smoothie bags (freezing leftover fruit & veg in food bags, then pop in your blender with milk or water come morning time) or chopping stir fry veg items and keeping them in a container in the fridge, ready to go.
5. Have a Food Budget
It sounds so simple, but having a budget and sticking to it is really handy for your health & wallet. Buy fruits and veggies that are in season – those in abundance are often much cheaper.
Nat’s Tip: Frugal doesn’t mean eating poor quality food. Try to think outside the box to fin bargains and prevent food waste. Check out your local fruit and veg markets for awesome deals and extra fresh produce that will last longer in your fridge.
I’m a big fan of planning my meals a week in advance. I take 30 minutes every Friday evening to set out what I would like for the week, then add what I need to a list app on my phone, ready for the markets on Saturday. It really does help to reduce waste and saves brain power after a long day at work!
Don’t forget to download your FREE Fit Foodie Meal Planner template here. Just print it out, fill it in, and keep it on your fridge!
Nat has been helping her clients achieve awesome life changing results, and is the creator of the 50daysnosugar Challenge.