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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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Eating healthily is hard, right? I used to spend ages every evening making a salad for my lunch al-desko the next day, but quickly realised that a long day at work or a busy evening would mean I’d take a drive to the shops at lunch time to buy something. Not the most budget-friendly, or supportive of my fitness goals. Weekly food-prep seemed to be the way forward!

I tried for ages to get into the typical food-prep routine, finding myself frustrated at spending hours in the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon only to eat boring food that made me want to head to the vending machine within minutes. However, now I have picked up my own style of food-prepping, and some tips that I’d like to share with you. All with the aim of hopefully helping you make some tasty breakfasts and lunches for your 9-5 job.

Food Prep #likeaboss

First Up… Smoothies

I’ve already talked about my post-workout smoothies in my 12 uses for protein powder post, but I really do think this little addition to my diet has made the world of difference in my training. I used to go from finishing CrossFit at 7am to getting to work at 9am having had nothing but a cup of tea, but for the last 2-3 months or so I’ve added in a smoothie as my “first breakfast”.

I keep frozen fruit and cartons of almond milk, to ensure I always have a supply of ingredients. I usually use half a banana and a handful of blueberries, mixed berries or mango and spinach, give it all a blitz and then add in my creatine and whey protein. Recently though, I’ve found PACK’D, which are pre-portioned smoothie kits made up of chopped frozen fruit/veg and a sachet of superfood ingredients. I wasn’t keen on the Detox superfood sachet (though the fruit/veg on its own was lovely!) but the Energy and Defence packs are blooming marvellous. I make them all with almond milk, and of course my creatine and whey. They really are a time saving machine and give you a brilliant variety of nutrients to start your day. You can buy PACK’D from Sainsbury’s. I’ve only seen the Detox one, but hopefully they’ll stock the other flavours soon!

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(Second) Breakfast

I have a few grab-and-go breakfasts, my favourites being eggy oats (porridge made with egg whites) topped with fruit and nut butter, Protein Weetabix with greek yoghurt and fruit, greek yoghurt mixed with whey and topped with granola and fruit, or scrambled egg (eaten cold by the time I take it to work) with smoked salmon and avocado and some chilli flavoured munchy seeds. But, if I really want to be organised, I’ll cook up a frittata.

I choose my fillings (veg, meat, cheese herbs, etc.) and fry them off in an oven-proof pan until cooked. Whisk some eggs and egg whites with a little salt and pepper and pour them into the pan. Leave it to cook on the bottom and then transfer the pan to a pre-heated grill to cook through. Leave to cool and then cut into quarters. This usually keeps in my fridge for about 4-5 days.

Lunches

I find a hot lunch so much more filling than a cold one, and vegetables better than salad, so I typically cook up a batch of meals that I can microwave at work. I opt for meatloaf (this recipe for hot or cold meatloaf is amazing) turkey sausages (these ones from Sainsbury’s are amazing), salmon fillets, or chicken thighs. Yes, I know chicken thighs are higher in fat, but they’re so much more flavourful and don’t dry out when re-heated like breasts do! Plus, there’s evidence to suggest that saturated fat isn’t associated with heart disease after all.

I batch cook my meat using the most amazing cooking invention known to man (ok, maybe a slight exaggeration, but seriously, this thing is great!), the Tefal OptiGrill. It’s basically like a souped-up George Foreman grill. It has different settings depending what meat you want to cook and then a sensor in the hinges that detects the thickness of the meat. Together, these calculate when your food will be cooked (you can even cook straight from frozen!), or even when it will be rare, medium or well done (for red meat and bacon). I’ve used it for steak, lamb steaks, bacon, sausages, chicken thighs and fish and all have come out perfectly cooked. It’s a food prepper’s dream! And what’s more… the plates can be removed and put in the dishwasher. Amazing.

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For sides I go for a big portion of mixed vegetables. My favourite combinations are:

  • Ratatouille – garlic, red onion, courgette, aubergine, peppers, plum tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, basil, thyme.
  • Roasted veg – red onion, mushrooms, peppers, courgette, cherry tomatoes, mixed dried herbs.
  • Lentil mix – puy lentils, red onion, cherry tomatoes, garlic, spinach (I add the spinach raw to the Tupperware and then microwave it with the whole meal to wilt it, then it’s not double-wilted!).
  • Green veg – courgette, tenderstem broccoli, sugar snap peas, kale and leeks. Leeks make everything taste amazing!

Sometimes I go mad and sprinkle my meals with feta too!

I try to avoid having starchy carbs with lunch (but have them with dinner and sometimes breakfast) because I feel that my weight is more easy to manage this way, but you could easily add a portion of rice, sweet potato, new potatoes, pasta, etc. to these meals.

Snacks

This doesn’t really count as food prep, as I tend to go for easy to grab snacks that I can chuck in a bag and take to work, but I thought I’d tell you what works for me, in case there’s something you want to try yourself! My go-to snacks are:

  • Yeo Valley Bio Active Live yogurts – these are delightful yogurts flavoured with fruit (no refined sugar). I have an afternoon sweet-tooth so a lunch-dessert always helps stave this off! I bought mine from Sainsbury’s.
  • Apple with peanut butter (my favourite right now is Pic’s, which is made with just nuts and salt, or the unsalted one which is 100% peanuts). I bought mine from Be:Fit, but you can also pick it up from their online store.
  • Kind snack bars – if you haven’t had these, you’re missing out! They are nut-based snack bars that actually have a pretty reasonable sugar content in them. I used to have Nakd bars, but found myself hungry shortly afterwards, however these keep me nicely satisfied until dinner. My favourites are the dark chocolate and sea salt, or maple glazed pecan and sea salt, but they’re all lovely! You can get them in Tesco, Waitrose, or Whole Foods.
  • Battle Oats – these are so lush and filling it’s unreal! They’re basically flapjack bars made with gluten free oats, coconut oil, butter, honey and flavourings. They also have a whey mix and protein crisps in, meaning each one packs a 20g protein punch. All flavours are lovely, but my favourite are cinnamon raisin and cranberry & blueberry fusion. I bought mine direct from their website, but you can also get them from Amazon*.

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I do sometimes have other snacks instead, like egg muffins, boiled eggs and fruit, or rice cakes with avocado and egg or goats cheese and fig, but realistically these do take extra prep, and right now I’m finding my breakfast and lunch prep takes up enough time. Convenience means that maybe I’m having a little more sugar than is ideal, but right now it’s working for me.

Final Thoughts

So there’s my slightly-longer-than-intended post on how I prep my meals for working 9 to 5. I hope you’ve found it useful, or at least interesting? Ultimately I’ve spent far too long in the past looking at the minute details of my diet and forgetting to consider the bigger picture that I’ve now gone back to basics and am taking the big steps to try and make my diet better – i.e. avoiding shop-bought sandwiches (which usually come with a packet of crisps and/or a chocolate bar or sugary drink!), making healthy, nutrient packed lunches, and eating foods that I know will fill me up.

Getting to know your body, what it needs and wants, and what fuels that fire in your belly is the main goal. Don’t sweat the small stuff!

Do you prep your meals in advance? What do you like to cook up? Comment below – I’d love to hear from you!

Photos taken using my Olympus PEN E-PL7* and M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 45mm 1:1.8 Lens*

Disclaimer: I received items from PACK’D and Tefal for free, and I spent a day at Yeo Valley to find out more about their Bio Live yogurts. As always, my opinion is my own and not affected by items gifted to me. To find out more about my policy on this and other matters, see my Disclosure page. * Affiliate link. Affiliate links do not affect the price that you pay, but any commission earned helps me to pay the costs of running this site. To find out more about my policy on this and other matters, see my Disclosure page.