Seriously?  Meal-planning saved your waistline?  Yup.

I’m no fitness guru.  I’m actually not very naturally athletic.  Growing up, I played all the sports, but I was the chubby girl so I had to work a little harder.  Even then, I still loved to be active.

But, it was never lack of activity that kept me overweight.  It was food and my horrible relationship with it.  I was such a picky eater as a kid.  Eat a vegetable?  I’d rather be grounded.  To this day, I’m not great about eating vegetables.  Cakes, cookies, and other sweets are my preference.

What made it harder for me was watching my sister and friends eat like NFL linebackers and not gain a pound.  I, on the other hand, smelled fried food and gained 10 pounds.

All the good metabolism passed me by.

As an adult, I’ve struggled to overcome bad eating habits.  When I was 25, I was at my largest: 250 pounds.  It was then I decided to lose the weight by changing my lifestyle.  It worked and I lost almost 75 pounds in a year and half.

Since then, I kept most of the weight off.  But it hasn’t been easy.  I’ve done every weight loss program you can think of: Weight Watchers, 21 Day Fix, clean eating, macro counting, etc.  If it’s out there, I’ve tried it.

No matter what program I use, the number 1 thing that helps me lose weight is meal planning.  It was something I started several years ago, but I never really understood how important it was until I went to law school.  Not only does it help me keep my weight in check, it saves me so much time.

So how do I meal plan?  Here are my steps:

Review my calendar and ask myself some questions.

One of my first steps is to determine what the next week holds.  Am I cooking for just me or all four of us?  Do I have lunch plans?  What kind of time do I have to prep this weekend?  Will we have leftovers from the weekend?

All of these questions inform my planning.  They tell me the type and the amount of food I need to prepare.

Update the spreadsheet.

Yes, I use a spreadsheet.  The type of meal planning format I’m using is what determines what the spreadsheet looks like.  If you don’t want to create your own, check my Pinterest  account for some of my favorite examples.

I like to create my own to be custom to whichever diet I’m following.  Since I am currently doing Weight Watchers (Which I love.  Why have I messed around with all these other plans?  But I digress.), my spreadsheet looks like this for each day of the week:

Meal Foods Points
Snack #1
Snack #2

Choose the meals for the week.

To me, this is the hard part.  It’s about making decisions on what will sound good to eat a week in advance.  Luckily, I am a creature of habit.  I totally don’t mind eating the same thing every day.  That’s why is you look at my meal plans from weeks past, you will see I eat the same breakfast, snacks, and lunch.  Snacks typically stay the same as well.  This saves me a ton of time.

Where things get tricky is dinner.  I’m only home to fix dinner twice during the week.  My husband prefers to not eat the same dinner more than two days in a row.  My girls refuse to eat the same things as us or as each other even.  Dinner choices are always a struggle for me.

So after a ridiculous evening where I fixed three meals to satisfy everyone, I instituted the Osborne meal planning schedule.  On Mondays and Saturdays, Chris and Anna must decide what we eat for dinner.  On Wednesdays and Fridays, Addie and I are in charge.  That way, I’m not the only one responsible for coming up with dinner ideas.

I get a lot of recipes and ideas from SkinnyTaste and Weight Watchers.  The recipes are fast, easy and healthy.  And that’s what we like most at our house.

Make the grocery list and go to the store.

Once the meals are determined, it’s time to make the list.  I organize my list by where the products are in the store.  For instance, the fresh foods are at the bottom because I go through the produce last.  This saves me so much time at the store.

I love going to the grocery super early on a Saturday morning.  There aren’t very many people there and I can be done before the other Osbornes get out of bed.  It’s a great way to start the weekend.

Finally, prep the food.

Sundays are my prep days.  If I know I need to cook something in the crockpot, I put that on before we go to church.  That way, once I’m home, I can get started.  Depending on the meal plan, it typically takes me about 2 hours.  I prep everything I can during that time.  The picture below shows my lunch, morning snack, and afternoon snack.

meal planning photo

Containers allowing you to store all the portions is super helpful.  It also helps with storing the food in the fridge once all the meal planning is done.

And that’s how I do it, kids.  It takes some work, but it is so worth it.  My health is better and I have more time during the week when I meal plan and prep.

From a non-fitness guru, I hope my tips help you find ways to maximize your time and your health.   It has saved my waistline and my sanity!