7 Tips for Successful Meal Planning

What comes to mind when you think of meal planning? If you’re like most people, the words “boring” “timing consuming” “overwhelming” or “another chore” come to mind. Yet, half of Americans don’t know what they will be doing for dinner when they wake up in the morning leaving them to scramble at the last minute to pull a dinner together. Without a plan, it can be very tempting and easy to just pick up take out, some of which provide little healthy options for women with PCOS.

While there are some perceived obstacles to meal planning, the benefits far outweigh any negatives.

Benefits of Meal Planning

Improves the Nutrition Quality of your Diet

One of the best benefits of a meal plan is that you can improve the quality of your diet by including a variety of healthy foods to serve at meals and snacks. A plan will ensure what foods you will eat when, requiring you to grocery shop to have these items stocked for those days instead of being left with an empty refrigerator.

Cuts Down on Food Waste

When you have a meal plan, you’re less likely to have food that will go to waste. Sticking to a plan means you will buy for and cook the food you need.

Saves Money

By not throwing out unused food, you will be saving money in the long haul. Look at store circulars for items on sale that you can prepare that week. And don’t forget the coupons!

Reduces Cooking and Cleaning Time

If you plan to batch cook, that is to cook large portions or amounts at once, you only have to clean that pot once. Not only are you cutting down on the cooking time, but also the time it takes to clean up.

Eliminates Stress

People who meal plan have one less thing to worry about each day. That is they never have to ask “What’s for dinner?” Knowing what you are going to eat, even if it’s leftovers, takes away a big stressor for most families.

Meal Planning: Where to Start

Do Inventory

Before you begin, take inventory of what you have in the house. Check your refrigerator and freezer for items that will expire soon. Also check your pantry to see what you can use.

Find Inspiration

Decide on what you would like to make for your meals. This may depend on the inventory you took, what’s on sale that week, or what’s available at your local farmers market. Cookbooks, magazines, and blogs (like our recipe section on our blog) offer recipes. And don’t forget about those recipes pinned on Pinterest.

Check the Calendar

Before you decide what to make, consider which family members will be home and when. Decide if you will need a quick and easy meal that night or do you have time to cook something more involved?

Write it Out

Once you have an idea for how the week will look, it’s time to plan out what you will have each day. Don’t forget to plan out snacks. Depending on your preference, use paper, phone, or an app (PepperPlate) to help you plan. You can download our free weekly menu planner here:

Weekly PCOS Menu Planner

KISS: Keep It Simple Sunshine!

Meal planning doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. If you’re new to meal planning, start small. If you eat the same breakfasts and snacks but it’s difficult for you to get dinner planned, maybe just focusing on planning dinner in each night can be a good start.

Don’t think that meal planning means you have to cook labor intensive recipes straight out of Buon Appetite! Start with meals you know. As you get more comfortable or have more time, say a lazy Sunday afternoon, then experiment with new recipes. Check out the PCOS Nutrition Center Cookbook: 100 Easy and Delicious Whole Food Recipes for inspiration or use the free 4-week done for you meal plan and shopping list to guide you.pcos cookbook

Allow for Flexibility

Some nights may not go as planned and that’s ok. Quick and easy meals can be healthy such as an omelet or soup and salad or a stir-fry with whatever protein you have on hand (chicken, shrimp, tofu).

The Secret to Successful Meal Planning

Batch cooking is the key to successful meal planning. Set aside time to cook larger portions and use it multiple times. For example: You can cook 8 chicken breasts, 1 dozen eggs, pot of quinoa, lentils, or roasted veggies. Add different spices, herbs, condiments for variety and flavor.

We love the idea of packing 5 salads at once for the week. Just grab and go!

When you cook, plan to cook for a large crowd even if it’s only for one person. Baking a turkey doesn’t need to be reserved for Thanksgiving. A large pot of soup can go a long way. Freeze extras in small, air-tight, labeled containers. And don’t forget to use the crockpot!

Finally, allow yourself to be patient and open to meal planning. With a little practice, meal planning will become a beneficial habit that will allow you to improve the nutrition quality of your diet and leave you never asking what’s for dinner again!

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Comments (4)
  • Ann

    October 6, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    I am trying to help my daughter, she has pcos, her mom Ann

  • Brooke

    July 7, 2017 at 6:22 am

    This was so helpful, thankyou. I’ve had my pcos under control for a long time now, but through some major stresses in my life over the last few months my sugar and carb cravings have gone through the roof. This was great advice, thankyou.

  • Jessie

    November 30, 2018 at 11:53 am

    I’ve struggled getting my PCOS under control for about 10 years, maybe longer. This sight is so helpful!

  • Angela Grassi

    December 20, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    Happy to hear! Check out our PCOS Cookbook that features a 4-week meal plan and 100 recipes.

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