Last week I shared some tips on meal prep 101, but looking back, I really should have started here, with meal planning 101. You really can’t prep without a plan, right?
This Monday, I am starting the 21 Day Fix Extreme with an amazing group of people. The focus for this week was on making a meal plan, so that we could take time this weekend to meal prep and be ready to tackle week one of the program.
Meal planning can seem like a challenge on its own, add in a bunch of color coded containers like you do with the 21 Day Fix programs and your head might exploded at first glance. I promise you, it’s not as difficult at you may think it is. You just need to keep it simple, especially for the first week and be repetitive with your meals. This doesn’t mean you have to eat the same thing for every meal, everyday, however that’s kinda what I do and it works for me.
When making my meal plan, I tend to rotate with 2 different breakfasts and 2 different lunches. This gives a little variety without killing my grocery budget AND it allows you to meal prep so you’ll be all ready to just heat & eat when meal time rolls around. Start by making a list of your favorites:
Veggies with Hummus
Veggies with guacamole
Apples with peanut butter
I personally cannot have dairy but these are also great snacks:
Greek Yogurt with fruit or nuts
Cottage Cheese with fruit or nuts
Nitrate-Free deli meat with cheese rolled up
Dinner is where I like to add variety. We always have something different for dinner each night, so I like to start my meal plan by filling in each nights dinner first. I calculate how many of each container I’ll be using, mark it on the sheet and remove those colored containers from my daily allotment.
Check out my 21 Day Fix Planning Tools to make meal planning easier.
Plan a Balanced Meal
Make sure you have at least 1 green and 1 red included
If you’re doing the Fat Burning plan on 21 Day Fix Extreme, make sure you have dinner BEFORE 6pm if there is a yellow or purple included.
Once you have your dinners filled in across the week, you’re ready to fill in the rest of the sheet. If you’ll be using leftovers for lunch at all, fill those in next, since you already have your containers figured out. If you will not be using leftovers, I like to fill in my Shakeology next. If you only like your Shakeology prepared a certain way, make sure you include whatever you like to add and subtract those containers from daily allotment.
If you are not as picky about what you mix with your Shakeology, leave it open for now so you can use up any stray containers that might be left over.
Once you have those items filled in, I like to fill in what I plan on meal prepping for lunch. I typically have the same meal for 3-4 days, but I’ll change it up a little depending on my containers for the day.
Example: Monday is Turkey Chili w/ sweet potato and a fruit, Tuesday is Turkey Chili w/sweet potato, shredded lettuce & chopped tomato + fruit and Wednesday is Turkey Chili w/sweet potato, avocado and fruit. They are small variations to use up different containers and make each meal a little different. You could use rice or quinoa instead of sweet potato to change things up if you prefer. It’s up to what you have on hand and what you feel like making.
Fill in the rest of your lunches using a similar container count as you did for your other ones. This will keep your days pretty even and make adding breakfast easy for you.
Next, fill in breakfast and subtract those containers from your allotment.
Finally, you’ll want to add in your snacks and add any leftover containers to existing meals or Shakeology recipe.
Sometimes you get creative in this process. I added a cup of baby spinach to my Healthy Pancake recipe one morning because I need to fit a green container in and I didn’t want to eat pancakes with a side of spinach. I figured if I could add baby spinach to smoothies and like them, why not try adding some to my pancake batter?! They ended up being delicious and they would have made Dr. Seuss proud!
As you see, meal planning can be as simple or as complicated as you wish to make it. The first week you do it, I highly recommend being repetitive with your meals. It will eliminate some of the stress and help you to adjust to everything. It will also make meal prep a lot easier!
You may have noticed that my meal plan is split up differently than the sheets I have shared in my 21 Day Fix Extreme Planning Tools. That’s because I really wanted to follow the Fat Burner plan, but I know how hectic weekend can be around here and eating every 2 hours would be very difficult. Yes, I know this is only for 21 days and I could make it work, but I view this as a lifestyle. I am also being a realist and by looking at my schedule for the next weeks, there is no way I could make the Fat Burner plan work on the weekends right now, and that’s okay.
Being able to foresee obstacles and coming up with a plan for them is how you achieve long term success. I’m not cheating on the program, I’m simply following a different style of meal planning for those 2 days of the week. The Energy Balance plan gives me more room to play and that’s exactly what I need in order to be successful with this.
For more 21 Day Fix Extreme Meal Planning sheets, CLICK HERE.
I hope this Meal Planning 101 post has helped you with your meal plan concerns. If you have any questions, please feel free to post them below and I’ll answer them as best I can.