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Planning for success

Everyone has their own "system" when it comes to healthy meal planning, grocery shopping and food preparation. Some people are extreme and have it down to a science, with every meal cooked and ready to go before their week begins. Others have no plans and simply throw together a pile of healthy foods, making up meals and recipes as they go.

Personally, I'm somewhere in the middle. I like to think I plan enough to avoid temptation and save time, yet I remain flexible enough to change my mind whenever I see fit. I'll share my "system" but there might be something better for you and your family. Try some new routines and see what works! The key is to find something that you can sustain for the long haul. Because again, healthy living is about creating a lifestyle. And, in my opinion, your food plans are the base of your success.

1. Meal planning. Each week, Kyle and I look at our schedules and decide how many dinners we'll be eating at home and how many need to be made in the Crock-Pot. Then, we simply brainstorm what sounds good or think about what we have the ingredients for already, and we make a list. We usually don't eat the same meals two weeks in a row, and we often throw in new recipes we want to try. Also, we add a back-up meal or two, just in case I'm late getting to the store the next weekend.

In general, we do NOT assign the meals to particular days of week. We know what nights we'll need the Crock-Pot, but other than that we wait until the week progresses to select what meals we want to make when. Sometimes, we don't even make a planned meal or two because we end up having enough leftovers to get by. (There's the flexibility I mentioned).

2. Grocery shopping. After we make our meal list, I start our grocery list with every item for dinner, then think about our staples for breakfast, lunch and snacks. Then, because I'm a little crazy, I reorganize the list into the order I will find it in the store (starting at the back of the store and making my way to the front). Mapping out my trip may sound OCD, but it really helps me get through the story quickly (and I hate being there longer than I have to!). Plus, I'm not tempted to veer off track and stop in the cookie aisle too long ...

Also, I take a few minutes to clip coupons - paper and digital! Because eating healthy can be pretty freaking expensive (but that's a post for another day!).

3. Food prep. For the most part, I don't do a lot of preparations when it comes to our meals for the week. But today, I spent an hour in the kitchen, dicing a watermelon, cutting up some strawberries, hard-boiling eggs, boiling noodles (for a Crock-Pot recipe I want to make tomorrow) and making a strawberry jello dessert (because it needs to set up overnight - see photo below for recipe). That's a lot for me! Normally, I just find some time to hard boil eggs and maybe chop some fruits and veggies. During garden season, I'll probably spending some time chopping and freezing as our harvest our little crop.

Credit: Recipe board from my Weight Watchers meeting. I love getting new ideas there!

BOOM! Now we're ready for the week to begin! We've saved time by taking out some of the work and most of the thinking. Eating healthy will be easy because we've planned for success.

Do you have any meal planning/grocery shopping/food prep tips? Share below! I'd love to swap ideas because my system isn't perfect, and I know there's ALWAYS room to improve. Also, if you liked my tips, head over to my new Facebook page! That's where I'll be sharing tips, thoughts and motivation between blog posts. Click "Like" to learn more about weight loss, running and creating a healthy lifestyle. We're building a community!

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