A 5 day meal plan has a lot of appeal. After all, it means you get everything ready in advance and then you’re set for the better part of a week. Still, it’s that getting ready part that can seem pretty overwhelming in reality.
Most of us don’t have the energy, the time or (let’s not kid ourselves) the motivation to take on a complex or time-consuming project to create a 5 day meal plan when we’ve become accustomed to just winging it.
A 5 Day Meal Plan Helps Break Bad Habits
The problem with continuing to wing it as you have been for the last while is in the results. Your old habits play a major role in what caused you to gain weight in the first place. Building new habits to break away from those that are holding you back will be key to bringing your weight back into the healthy range.
The odds are that you’ve been resisting creating a 5 day meal plan – or any kind of food planning – until now because it requires a lot of thinking. You’ll need to come up with a list of what you will be making in a week, what you’ll need to do it, then actually stick to the plan.
That may seem like a lot but with the right strategy, it’s a lot easier than you think. In fact, once you get into the swing of it, you’ll rapidly discover that this process takes far less time and effort than trying to do everything on the fly. One hour of advance food prep can easily save you three, four, even five hours of shopping, prepping and cooking time throughout the rest of the week. Easily.
What Do You Need for Advance Food Prepping?
The process of creating a 5 day meal plan may surprise you at how straightforward it can be. Even better? The first week you do it is the hardest one. It only gets easier from there! So, use your energy and motivation from getting into this novel idea to smash through the learning curve so you’ll be ready for an even smoother process next week.
Here’s what you’ll need to develop your 5 day meal plan:
- A list of 5 breakfasts you want to make – Aim for foods that are nutrient dense, will fill you up and that are reasonable in calories.
- A list of 5 dinners you want to make – Pay attention to lean proteins, healthy fats and whole grains. Keep your calories reasonable, but not to the detriment of your nutrition. Remember that herbs and spices add tons of flavor, so you can scale back the use of sugary and fatty sauces and dressings.
- A list of 5 or less lunches you want to make – Here, the number will be based on how many of those dinners will give you leftovers for lunch!
Once you have your meals listed, write down all the ingredients you’ll need to prepare them. Head into your kitchen and cross off anything you already have in enough quantity (and that will last long enough) to prepare each of those meals. What’s left is your grocery list for your 5 day meal plan! Add a few fresh veggies, coffee or tea, and other low- or zero-added sugar snacks and staples and you’re all set for the supermarket.
Grocery Shopping for 5 Day Meal Plan Ingredients
This process is key to your success. Take your 5 day meal planning shopping list and follow it to the letter. Do not deviate from your list. It may look like it’s long, but because you’ve planned the use in advance, you know you’ll eat it all instead of letting it rot uneaten in your fridge, only to have to toss it away.
Over time, you’ll learn how to adapt your 5 day meal plan to incorporate meals requiring similar ingredients so you’ll use things more efficiently and require an even shorter shopping list.
Sample 5 Day Meal Plan Shopping List
Here’s an example of what your 5 day meal plan shopping list might look like, depending on the meals you’re making and the number of people you’ll be cooking for.
- 5 bananas
- 4 apples or oranges
- 2 red bell peppers
- 2 green bell peppers
- 1 large onion
- 1 package of mushrooms (pre-sliced saves time)
- 2 romaine or iceberg lettuces (or bags of pre-chopped lettuce to save time)
- Small bunch of fresh basil
- 4 large stalks or crowns of broccoli
- 2 large tomatoes
- 2 large avocadoes (one more ripe than the other)
- 4 cucumbers
- 1 package of cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 32-ounce container of non-fat Greek yogurt (plain, unsweetened)
- 1 package sliced part-skim mozzarella cheese (70 calories or less per slice)
- 6 eggs
- 1 pound of deli turkey (60 calories or less per two ounces)
- 1 serving salmon (100 calories or less – fresh or vacuum sealed in water)
- 1 package of frozen strawberries or peaches
- 1 bag whole grain bread (100 calories per slice or less)
- 1 package fajita-sized tortillas (110 calories or less each)
- Brown rice (microwavable portioned packages are most convenient)
- 1 small can of pitted and sliced black olives
- 1 can black beans
- 1 small jar prepared salsa
- 1 jar prepared marinara sauce
- Soy sauce
- Salad dressing of preference (45 calories or less per 2 tablespoons)
- Club soda or flavored, unsweetened carbonated water