functional nutrition

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Alyssa Simpson RD, CDE, CLT
Alyssa Simpson

(602) 422-9800

Sibo Doctor Approved
certified gastrointestinal nutritionist
Sibo Doctor Approved
certified gastrointestinal nutritionist

Overwhelmed by Meal Planning? Here Are My Top 6 Tips to Make It Easy.

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Meal planning

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This month we’re digging into meal planning. No, it’s not glamorous, but if you are eating low FODMAP or are on a therapeutic diet, meal planning can be a game-changer.

Many of my clients are overwhelmed by the idea of meal planning because it feels so all-or-nothing. You don’t have to be the crazy lady at the grocery store with a 3-ring binder filled with typed up meal plans and grocery lists.

Meal planning can be simple. Let’s look at a few basic approaches.

Meal Planning Approach #1: Batch Cooking

Batch cooking is all about cooking extra for later. After all, if you’re going to the trouble to cook a meal, you might as well make it work double duty.

There are a few different approaches to batch cooking:

? Double a dinner recipe and freeze half for another night.

If you do this, just make sure whatever you’re making freezes well. You don’t want to reheat your second meal to discover it has turned to mush. Soups and stews are a good fit for this approach. Casseroles are great candidates as well.

? Double a recipe and use half for a few days of lunches.

This works great if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t mind eating the same food a few days in a row. And if you divide it up into containers right away, all you have to do is grab and go!

? Cook extra protein and repurpose it for another meal.

If you’re roasting a chicken, it’s not that much harder to roast two. Eat one the night you make it with some roasted veggies or a salad. Then cut up the other one to use in a casserole or chicken salad.

Meal Planning Approach #2: Make-Ahead Meals

If you’re the kind of person who likes cooking on the weekends, but doesn’t want to take the time on weeknights, this might be a great approach for you. You can make complete meals or even just a few components of your meals on the weekend so getting weeknight dinners on the table doesn’t feel so daunting.

Consider these ideas:

Pre-cook your protein.

If you’re making more than one meal with browned ground beef during the week, why not go ahead and cook the meat in advance? This will cut down on meal-prep time when you’re tired after work. And just knowing that your dinner is partially done makes it waaay easier to hit the kitchen when you get home.

Roast a bunch of veggies.

Roasted vegetables are incredibly versatile. You can reheat them and eat them as a side dish, add them to soups, stews, or even salads. Or if you’re feeling really adventurous, try frying an egg in some healthy fat and serving it over warmed-up leftover roasted veggies.

Prep some salad fixings.

It’s much easier to eat your vegetables if they’re already chopped and ready to use. And this works with salads too. Salads are much more interesting when they’ve got more than just lettuce and tomato. So get creative! Cut up some carrots, radishes, celery, and cucumbers and have them in containers ready to go. Then all you need to do is chop (or open a bag of) lettuce and add some dressing.

Pre-make your breakfasts.

This can be super simple. Boil a dozen eggs and you’ve got a great source of protein for breakfast for the whole week. Or you can make mini omelets in a muffin tin and reheat one or two each day when you’re ready for breakfast. Pinterest has loads of recipes for these under “egg muffins”.

Meal Planning Approach #3: Make Friends with a Cookbook

If you can find a cookbook (or a few) that you like, planning your meals for the week can be a snap. And don’t be afraid to write in them! Any time you try a recipe, make some notes. Did you change anything? Was it a favorite? Was it easy? Writing notes like this in the margins can help you remember for next time. You can even make a list of the best recipes (along with page numbers) on the inside cover. That way you don’t have to leaf through the whole book to find your go-to’s.

If a cookbook isn’t your thing, find an online recipe creator you like. There are thousands of recipe blogs on the internet. And many of them are specifically tailored toward different eating styles and therapeutic diets. And yes, you may have to sift through some ads. But you can download and print your favorites for quick access next time.

Meal Planning Approach #4: Use Prefab Meal Plans

There are lots of recipe creators out there who create meal plans and grocery lists you can just print out and use. If you don’t want to take the time to scan through a cookbook, then these can be a great option.

And if you’re on a therapeutic diet like low FODMAP, you can find many creators who have written meal plans to match your eating style. A little googling may save you loads of time in the future.

And stay tuned because next week, you’ll find tons of clickable meal planning resources. Remember, I’m here to support you and make your journey easy.

Meal Planning Approach #5: Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

When you find recipes or meal planning approaches that you like, make note of them somehow, somewhere. Once you’ve planned a few weeks of meals, you can just go back and repeat. There’s no reason to start from scratch every single week.

You can be fancy and create meal plan documents, or just use the notes app on your phone. But there’s no reason to repeat your work. Then in a few weeks, you can look back and just repeat the same meals again.

Meal Planning Approach #6: Work With a Practitioner

Sometimes you just need some support as you work to change your diet to improve your health or deal with a stubborn condition like IBS. A qualified practitioner can help you figure out which foods to eat (and avoid) to help you feel your best. They can also support you in the lifestyle and habit changes that will help you stick with your plan for the long haul.

If you’re ready to figure out which foods work best for you and how to incorporate them into your lifestyle, let’s chat.

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