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January. The time of year that everyone starts thinking about their health and losing weight. I’ve already said on my Instagram how I feel about the body shaming hype and the glossy magazines that tell you how you need to “lose weight fast!”, so I thought I’d share some practical tips on how I plan out my meals and my weekly food shopping with the aim of helping you introduce small lifestyle changes rather than focusing on quick fixes.

Let me just start by saying: This isn’t a diet plan. It’s not about fat loss. It’s not even all about “health”. It’s about choosing foods that are tasty, satiating, wholesome and good for your mental health too! If you’re after weight loss this isn’t necessarily the blog for you. I have lost around 3kg over the last month or so, but purely by focusing on eating when I need to (and not just when I fancy it!).

Right, now that’s out of the way… let’s get started!

How to Plan Your Weekly Shop

Warning… may contain nuts!

How I plan my meals

I like to plan my evening meals Monday to Sunday and base the bulk of my food shopping around those meals. This way, my food shopping has focus. If you don’t plan out what meals you’ll be cooking, you could end up with too many or not enough ingredients and resorting to less nutritious options, like takeaways, when you’re stressed out and busy! My breakfasts and lunches don’t really vary that much (partly due to time for meal prep), but I like to cook interesting and varied meals in the evenings for my husband and myself.

First I take into account my husband’s shifts and my diary. If my husband is working a late shift I’ll tend to try and choose something that can be cooked up quickly so I know I can do everything I need to get done before I start cooking. If I’m out one evening I’ll buy my husband something he can cook himself really easily so he doesn’t have to faff too much when he gets home from work.

Next I choose a meat base (or lack of!) and work from there. So, for example:

  • Monday – chicken
  • Tuesday – fish
  • Wednesday – chicken
  • Thursday – vegetarian
  • Friday – beef
  • Saturday – pork
  • Sunday – lamb

These aren’t set days – I change it up on a weekly basis. Sometimes we’ll have more chicken, sometimes we’ll have pork or beef more than once in a week, sometimes we won’t. I do try to do a fish or vegetarian meal at least once a week if I can, though this doesn’t always happen. I find that planning out like this helps me keep variety of meat sources in our diet, and cutting down on meat with vegetarian meals is good for our general health as well as the environment.

Weekly Food Shop Planning

Next up, I think about what ingredients I’ve got in the house already that I might be able to whip something up with. I don’t like to waste food if I can help it, so would rather make up a meal from things I already have than choose a recipe and find I have to buy loads of ingredients! Here are some healthy meal rules I try to include in planning:

  • Include at least 2-3 different vegetables with every meal – mostly green, but also varied in colour for more nutrients
  • Lean meats for the win… fish, chicken, and lean cuts of red meat
  • Prioritise unprocessed starchy carbs – go for potatoes, rice, bulghar wheat, pearly barley, etc. first, then start to look at pasta, bread
  • Include healthy fats – olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, nuts, seeds
  • Add strong flavours and you’ll use less – I prefer full fat yoghurts, cheeses, sauces, etc. as they have more flavour – that way you’ll feel more satisfied with a smaller amount
  • Spice it up – use herbs and spices, and a little bit of salt, and you’re less likely to need to drown your food in sauce
  • Grill, dry fry and steam where possible – choose these more healthy cooking options to avoid excess calories

Once I’ve used up all I can, I’ll have a little browse for recipe inspiration. If I have them to hand I’ll look through recipe books, otherwise I’ll search online, usually using BBC Good Food (my favourite online recipe site!), for some new ideas.

And finally, the actual meal plan! I used to write my meal plans out on scraps of notepaper, but I’ve recently started a bullet journal, so now make a note of each evening’s planned meal in my weekly spread so I can check back on it when it comes to getting something out of the freezer or starting to cook.

How to Plan Your Weekly Meals

Now… the shopping list.

Once I’ve decided on the week’s meals I’ll write out my shopping list. I always write a list – not only does it help stop me picking up things I don’t need (except for the odd peanut butter cup that make sneak its way into my trolley!) but it also saves time wondering around and forgetting things.

I’m a super organised person (in case you couldn’t tell!) so I like to write my shopping list out in the order in which I walk around the supermarket, so I start with vegetables and fruit, then meat, dairy, dried foods (pasta, rice, tins, etc.), eggs, bread, alcohol and frozen.

I almost always buy bananas, plus any other fresh fruit I fancy (and extra for our parrot!), meat, vegetables and packet rice for lunches, 10% fat greek yoghurt, milk and almond milk for breakfasts and smoothies, plus a bottle of wine for when I fancy a tipple. Chocolate and treats get picked up when we’re running low.

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Example shopping list

Here’s an example of my weekly shopping list:

Vegetables and fruit

  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Onions
  • Cucumber
  • Green veg (broccoli, courgette, green beans, cabbage, leeks)
  • Potatoes
  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Apples
  • Berries

Meat products

  • Chicken breasts or thighs
  • Pork loin steaks
  • Beef mince
  • Diced lamb or lamb leg steaks
  • White fish or salmon
  • Bacon (who doesn’t need bacon?!)
  • Chorizo

Dairy

  • Creme fraiche
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • 10% fat greek yoghurt
  • Milk

Storecupboard

  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Lentils
  • Tinned beans
  • Tuna
  • Porridge oats
  • Muesli
  • Almond milk
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Nut butter
  • Dried Fruit

Bakery

  • Bread (sourdough is one of my favourites!)
  • Fruit bread

Drinks

  • Bottled water
  • White or red wine

Frozen

  • Frozen peas/sweetcorn
  • Ice cream (duh!)

Sauces/condiments

  • Horseradish
  • Sweet chilli
  • Soy
  • Wholegrain mustard
  • Honey

A lot of these things I’ll keep in my cupboards at home and won’t need to buy on a weekly basis, but they need a top up every few weeks or so. Check out my blog on how to meal prep for the 9-5 if you want some meal inspiration!

How does this compare to how you plan your meals and food shopping? Do you have a similar process or is this new to you? If you liked this post please let me know by commenting below or on social media and please share with anyone who might find this helpful!

Weekly Food Shop Planning

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Food plays an important part in a lot of people’s lives. It’s social, satisfying, celebratory, it’s even comforting. I don’t think I’ll ever be someone for whom food is “just fuel”, something purely eaten for energy and not enjoyed for its taste or texture. I love to cook, and I have my mum, who always cooked meals from scratch and introduced me and my brother to food from different cultures as we were growing up, to thank for that. I also love to share food with others, cooking three course meals for friends, or baking cakes and treats to share.

I also love to know what other people enjoy eating. I studied a couple of nutrition courses with the Open University, and am intrigued by people’s food choices and behaviours. Because of this, I love to read “What I Eat In A Day” posts, or watch videos. So when I volunteered to co-host the first London Bloggers Link Party and the theme was “24 hours in…” I thought a food diary post would be the ideal topic to kick off with.

Want to know what a fitness blogger really eats in a day? Find out here... Click To Tweet

So here’s my food diary for a day:

7am – cup of tea

I always like to drink a cup of tea while I get ready for work in the mornings, it picks me up, ready to start the day. I like ordinary “builders’ tea”… a good old cuppa with milk, no sugar.

Breakfast

9am – mozzarella, tomato and spinach scramble and glass of orange juice

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This is a super quick and easy breakfast, inspired by Pod, and always keeps me full until lunchtime.

I just beat 3 eggs with a fork, then add to a dry pan on a high heat until the bottom just starts to cook. Then I add in 4-5 halved cherry tomatoes, 2-3 sundried tomatoes cut into quarters, 1/4 of a ball of buffalo mozzarella cut into small 1cm chunks and stir with the egg into a scramble. Just as the egg is nearly done I throw in a handful of spinach and a crack of salt and pepper and stir until the spinach has wilted. Voila!

The orange juice cuts through the savoury and salty flavour of the eggs nicely.

10am – cup of tea

With such a satiating breakfast I won’t need a morning snack, so I just had a cup of tea when I fancied.

Lunch

1pm – cajun chicken, okra, sweetcorn salsa and sweet potato

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I’m trying out having leftovers instead of making sandwiches/wraps or salads after being inspired by Elle’s what I really eat post. Last night’s dinner was one from my new Jamie Oliver 15 Minute Meals recipe book, and I thought it would be perfect for leftovers. I used a baked sweet potato (blasted for 4-5 minutes in the microwave) with the sweet chilli drizzled inside rather than mashing it all together and it was super filling and tasty. The cajun seasoning is delicious on the chicken, with polenta for a nice crispy coating.

Afternoon Snack

4pm – coconut, cranberry and macadamia bar and a cup of tea

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Afternoons are my real weak point. I often get hungry within only a couple of hours of lunch during the week – I think it’s mostly a psychological thing though, and is something I’m trying to break. I usually keep a stack of snacks at work for just this kind of situation, but I’d taken them home to photograph for my blog so didn’t have any with me.

Luckily though, I’m prepared and I’d brought in one of the bars that I made for Lenka’s blog (check out the recipe and let me know if you make them – they’re so easy to make!), so I had that with… another cup of tea. I usually have around 4 cups a day.

Dinner

9pm – puy lentil, kale and bacon stir-fry

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Dinner was much later tonight than I’d usually have – my evening was busy with blog stuff and Darren was working a late shift then going to the gym so I just started cooking when I was finished with my post. I cooked up some puy lentils, then stir-fried them with streaky bacon, cherry tomatoes, garlic, chilli flakes, broccoli, kale and lemon juice and topped the mixture with crumbled feta. Such a quick and easy meal for one! 

10:30pm – cup of tea

Before bed I had my final cup of tea of the day. I know caffeine is a stimulant, but I find a hot drink late at night is a must! Maybe I should switch to hot water!

What I Eat Pin

Reflection

I have to admit that, while this is a true food diary, it’s not necessarily representative of my diet as a whole. The next day I indulged in a blueberry muffin in the afternoon, and devoured a bag of pick’n’mix at the cinema in the evening! I do usually keep my main meals pretty healthy though, with the odd bit of “junk” thrown in.

Wine is another downfall of mine, often having a glass (sometimes two!) with dinner. But hey, everyone has their cruxes!

What about you? What do you usually eat? Do you have a “What I Eat In A Day” post to share with me? Or another post on the “24 hours in…” #LBLinkParty theme? Don’t forget to add them to the Link Party, and comment below! I’d love to hear from you!

#LondonBloggers