The key to lasting health, fitness, weight loss, or anything you want to do successfully is consistency. It is easy to get started. You are excited, full of optimism, and hopeful about the changes you can make in your life. Then, it gets hard. But if you are consistent, your results will pay off. As I have said many times, small steps made consistently over time lead to big results. What does this have to do with low carb meal planning? Everything.
One of the best ways I have found to be consistent in eating right is to plan my low carb meals. I am not one of those people who love to cook. In fact, I used to hate it. I still don’t enjoy it, but I have gotten much better about it through some trial and error.
Here are my low carb meal planning tools, tips, and tricks to make life and eating healthier easier.
Here is a great option if you are just starting out. Download my printable meal planner sheet free! I have mine laminated and each week I use a dry erase marker and write out all the meals for the week. I have it 3 hole punched so that it fits in my recipe binder. Here is the laminator I use.
If you want a more high tech approach, there are lots of useful services out there that are relatively inexpensive. I usually stick to the laminated version now, and print out a month meal plan as well, but in the past, I have used AllRecipes.com and MealGarden.com. I am not an affiliate for either of these…I have just found them to be helpful.
Allrecipes.com allows you to search from their thousands of recipes, add items to your meal plan, categorizes your shopping list and more. You can learn about their PRO site here: http://dish.allrecipes.com/customer-service/faq-menuplanner/. At the time of this writing it can cost as little as $1 per month for the service. You can sign up here: https://secure.allrecipes.com/Membership/Signup/SupportingMembership.aspx.
MealGarden.com similar features, but it seems better organized to me. I don’t think the search feature is as good, but is is great for uploading your own recipes and getting super organized. It has a full nutritional analysis of all recipes, automatically generates shopping lists, save your recipes to a cookbook, and schedule meals. It even has a color coded health score on the recipes (although if you are doing ketogenic recipes, it won’t say they are healthy because of the fat content…so I tend to ignore it). At the time of this writing, it costs as little as $3.75 per month.
First, do you have any low carb meals you already like? Write them down.
Then, look through the low carb meals you want to try. Cookbooks, Pinterest, and websites are all great places to start. I prefer ones that have the nutritional values listed. Look at my Pinterest board for some ideas if you want!
Take one week, add in your favorites, plus a new recipe or two. I like to make sure most of the week we know it will be food we like, with only one or two new recipes. This helps me stay focused and not overwhelmed with trying a bunch of new things. I think this is especially important if you have picky family members!
This has helped me immensely. The last thing I want to do is search through Pinterest, or try to find where I had that recipe we liked. I print out the recipe the first time I try it and make notes if there are any ways I want to try to improve it. If it is no good, it gets tossed. If it is good, I put it into my recipe book, along with any notes or changes I have made. You can download my recipe templates here if you are a Type A personality like I am and want them to all look consistent.
I like to sort them by type of food (breakfast, main course, side, etc) and put them either in page protectors in my 3 ring binder, or more recently, I have laminated them so that they are a little sturdier. Then I just pull out the pages I need to make dinner and they are protected from the inevitable spills or mess I make.
Once I have one week of meals down that the family likes, then I just keep adding to it little by little. My goal is at least 4 weeks’ worth of meals so that we don’t get tired of it per season (or at least for hot and cold times…we don’t want hot soup in the summer in Texas, and some recipes are as good in the winter due to freshness of produce).
Then, just rotate the schedule. Make a grocery list for each week, and put it on autopilot!
I love Kroger’s ClickList. It has saved me so much time. I can plan out my week, add all the items to my cart online, and pick it up the next day without even getting out of my car. It has helped me be consistent because I hate grocery shopping! If you are the same way, it might be worth it to check it out. I know there are others out there as well. They vary in price from a free service to about $5. It is worth it to me not to be tempted by junk food, and I end up buying less and sticking to just what I need, so I have found even with the $5 fee, it saves me money.
I also buy a lot of specialty or bulk items on Amazon with Amazon Prime. Again, it saves me from going through the store, searching for hard to find items, and I don’t have to walk past the ice cream or bakery sections!
Freezer cooking is another great way to save some time, and it is easy to fit into low carb meal planning. I make a note on my recipe book which meals are freezer friendly. Make some in bulk, and then breakfast or dinner is even easier to get on the table. Again, Pinterest is a great place to find some of these, as well as Once a Month Meals, where you can search for low carb meals.
What are your favorite meal planning strategies? Please share!
Meal Planner Free Download
This is for educational purposes only, and not intended as medical advice. As always, please consult a doctor before making any lifestyle or health changes. Affiliate Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, at no additional cost to you, I receive an affiliate commission. I only recommend products or services I believe will be helpful to you. In addition, 50% of the profit from this site, including affiliate commissions, goes to helping those in need. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”