You want to eat healthy, and you know if you plan your meals ahead of time and prepare them accordingly, you can do exactly that. You also understand that by shopping sales and buying in bulk, you can save valuable money. If better health and more money in your bank account are not good enough reasons to plan and prepare healthy meals in advance, how about the fact that this practice frees up valuable time during your week?

People are more stressed out and unhealthy than ever before. Healthy meal planning for a week at a time, or even more, is a simple and cost-effective way to reduce stress and positively impact the health of your family. However, there are a few mistakes and speed bumps that can happen along the way.

1 – Not “Doing The Math”

Healthy eating means 3 main meals and 2 or 3 small snacks during the day. This involves eating somewhere between 500 and 600 cal during your major meals (using a 2,000 cal diet as an example). That comes out to 5 or 6 meals that you have to plan for each day, for each person in your family. If you are planning, shopping and cooking for 1 week in advance for a 4 person family, that means 140 to 168 meals you have to plan for.

Know those numbers.

Don’t just “wing it” when you go shopping. Do the math, figuring out how many servings each person you are shopping for will need each day, each week, and how many meals you are going to make. Failure to crunch the numbers here is almost a guarantee that you will end up with extreme waste, or not enough food purchased

2 – Falling Off of the Wagon… Then Giving Up

Hey, nobody is perfect. Don’t expect yourself to be. If you choose to eat unhealthy food several times throughout your planned meal period, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just get back on your plan, and start eating healthy again. This is a learning process, especially if this is your first time attempting to plan healthy meals that you prepare in advance of eating them.

3 – Not Sticking to Your Budget

Congratulations! You sat down and made a plan for your family’s meals for the next week. You know exactly what recipes you are going to be cooking, you have a shopping list, and you are ready to go. While out shopping, you notice a bulk buy that is just too good to pass up, even though it is not on your shopping list. You also see a couple of kitchen accessories you could use, and before you know it, you’ve blown your budget out of the water.

It makes sense sometimes to be flexible with your plan. If organic chicken is 50% off and you were not planning on buying any this month, it makes absolute budgetary sense to go ahead and make a purchase. However, you should be careful to make adjustments accordingly, so you don’t end up spending too much money. Remember, you are doing this to save money and time while improving your health, not to spend so much money that you get upset at the process.

Meal Planning Takes Time and Patience

Like any new habit or lifestyle change, small steps may work better for you. You may want to start with meal planning three meals a week the first week and then four meals the next week and so on. Be patient with yourself and with the process. Ease into it. As you begin to make progress, you’ll likely notice a change in how you feel about meals and eating. Pay attention to these feelings as well. Lifestyle change shouldn’t feel burdensome or restrictive. Have fun with this. Try new recipes, new foods, and enjoy the freedom that meal planning offers.

Let Someone Else Meal Plan for You

If meal planning doesn’t fit into your schedule (and let’s face it, you’re busy and meal planning takes a little time) but you want the benefits, consider using a meal planning service. I have used, and seriously love Real Plans.

Real Plans lets you choose the type of meal plan that’s right for you and you can choose recipes from food bloggers that you love. For example, if you want Paleo recipes and you love Nom Nom Paleo then the system will choose recipes for you based on your preferences. You can drag and drop and move recipes around to different days. It’s seriously the most amazing service. I just love it. Check it out here.

To your amazing health!

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