Meal Planning for Beginners & Buffet Style Meal Prep
In this post, I want to tackle overwhelms people who are working on living a healthier lifestyle — specifically, I’m going to cover meal planning for beginners.
If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you know that a big part of my philosophy, actually my mission, is to help people make healthy lifestyle changes.
Meal planning is the BIGGEST piece of this because you can’t out exercise a bad diet — nutrition has a bigger impact on your health and body weight than exercise.
It also helps you get off the crazy dieting roller coaster!
Getting Started with Meal Planning
I know meal planning is daunting for a lot of people, but it’s key in helping you reach and maintain your health and fitness goals.
Because it’s such an obstacle for so many people, I actually created a whole meal prep “school!”
My goal was to to simplify meal planning for beginners so it didn’t feel like such a crushing task.
Before you do anything, consider how and when you eat your meals.
If you really don’t have time to cook dinner during the week, you’re going to love how much meal planning and prepping helps.
The Buffet Style Meal Prep method that I advocate makes weeknights SO much easier because you’ll be doing little cooking.
Here’s my simplified version of meal planning for beginners:
1. Keep It Simple
One of the most important things to do with meal planning is to keep it SIMPLE.
Why? Because simple LASTS.
Eating “healthy” doesn’t have to be difficult or elaborate. Overcomplicating it is a choice…and NOT a good one because it almost ends up being followed by quitting.
My buffet style method makes cooking EASY.
Some meals have the same basic staples, but taste completely different depending on how you spice them up. (Spices are FREEBIES on any meal plan— unless you’re cutting back on salt!)
Start by picking a few healthy CORE foods from the groups on the list below. (Note that the foods at the top of the lists have the most nutritional value.)
A few sample core foods (and their corresponding Ultimate Portion Fix food containers) might include:
- Ground beef, ground turkey, and fish (Protein — Ultimate Portion Fix red container)
- Sunflower seeds and salad dressings (Seeds & Dressings — UPF orange container)
- Quinoa, brown rice, and sweet potatoes (Carbs — UPF yellow container)
- Romaine lettuce, spinach, and broccoli (Veggies — UPF green container)
- Avocado, feta, almonds, and hummus (Healthy Fats — UPF blue container)
- Bananas, berries, and grapefruit (Fruits — UPF purple container)
- Extra-virgin olive oil, nut butters (Oils — UPF Teaspoon)
Be sure and use your containers and start small. Meal plan for 3-5 days the first few times you do it.
And, don’t pick too many core foods.
You don’t need to cook every meal every day! That’s where a little planning and prepping is SO helpful.
When it’s time to pull together a meal like dinner, everything is already prepped and in the containers. Trust me, this is HEAVENLY!
This Buffet Style cooking works especially well for families, especially if you have any picky eaters. Each family member can pick and choose what they like from the different containers (filled with healthy foods!) and create their own meal.
Once you’re organized and prepped, you can add in some no-cook meals too, like overnight oatmeal for breakfast.
Here’s part of the MAGIC of meal prep — you’ve planned some main meals and now you decide which meals work for the leftovers.
Be creative! There’s no culinary law that says you can’t eat rice and veggies for breakfast or oatmeal for lunch!
You can even prep enough food to use for lunches AND a portion to freeze for the next week!
Okay, so you’ve picked your core foods, decided on a few breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, figured out where to plug in the leftovers, and written everything down.
Now it’s time to go shopping…
2. Go Shopping
Remember to shop in your cabinets, fridge, and freezer first! Don’t lose track of what you already have because you’ll end up throwing away food.
I hate wasting food and the money I spent on it, so I look in my kitchen first before deciding what meals I’m going to prep for the week. When I make my list, I cross off anything I find in the fridge, freezer, or pantry.
Make sure you’ve written down the meal plan for each day and where you’re slotting in your leftovers.
Go to the store with a well-organized shopping list and STICK to the list. This saves time and money!
3. Meal Prep Day
This is the big day that’s going to set your course for a healthy week! This is where your Ultimate Portion Fix containers are a HUGE help!
Take a look at the Eating Plan Guide that comes with the nutrition plan to calculate your container needs.
Sunday works great for meal prep for a lot of people, but YOU do you and prep on the day that works best on the most consistent basis.
Prepping won’t take all day, but it will take a few hours. It gets faster and easier the more you do it.
The most prep goes into your proteins (red container) because they typically need cooking. Simply sauté enough ground turkey or beef, chicken breasts, and/or fish to last for your planned days.
When I do this step, I avoid adding a lot of spices. That way, I can spice the protein however I want when I’m actually pulling the meal together.
It’s amazing how different foods taste depending on how you spice them.
Take ground beef…
You can use spicy taco seasonings for a Mexican-style meal.
Rather have Asian-inspired flavors? Go with lime juice, Bragg’s Amino acid, and some Thai basil.
I also hard boil some eggs for the week because they’re so easy to grab and go for snacks.
I go through each different food group, prepare the core foods I’ve chosen, prep them, and store them in large (preferably glass) containers.
Most foods store for 3-5 days in the fridge. You can go ahead and freeze some foods so they’ll keep better, but remember to take them out of the fridge in time to thaw.
Remember that Shakeology is a perfect no-cook meal that is a red container food! If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time for a meal, Shakeology is a great whole-meal substitute.
Once everything’s prepped and stored, the rest of your week is a breeze when it comes to your meals.
At mealtime, it’s just a matter of grabbing your Portion Fix containers and measuring out your meal, adding whatever spices you’re craving.
A little work up front saves you so much time and energy throughout the week AND it also really helps you stay on the right nutritional track.
Let Me Help You!
I hope this meal planning for beginners simplified things for you. If not, please don’t get overwhelmed. It really does become a habit once you do it a few times.
Remember that coaching is free with a (also free) Team Beachbody Account. Just open your account and assign me as your Beachbody Coach. I’ll help walk you through your obstacles and get you on the road to your health and fitness goals!
Click below to start Buffet Style Meal Prep School today!