Are you ready? Meal Planning: Shop, Prep, Eat, WIN.

We have a special guest on DIY Jahn today, Lisa! She’s here to share some tips with us on developing a meal plan for your fitness journey. Enjoy!

Meal Planning

Are you ready?

Food is a necessary part of our daily lives and unfortunately, the hardest thing to manage when we go on a fitness journey. You know what I mean – when its late at night and you have that chocolate craving, when work was stressful and you just want to pick up a pizza on the way home, or when relationships are on the fritz and Ben & Jerry’s is the only relationship you want to pursue.

Meal Planning: Shop, Prep, Eat: WIN

Meal planning has been my salvation. I had to take the choice out of eating and it worked for me. However, it does take a little effort and planning. Meal plans involve determining what you want to eat and developing a menu, shopping and preparing the food on your plan, and then eating what you have planned. It’s hard, but when I follow my meal plan, the week goes smoothly and I see my weight coming down.

  • Prep food ahead of time: I do this on Sunday afternoons or sometimes on Saturdays and it makes a huge difference. Try preparing everything on your plan in advance. This way, when life happens, you have something quick to grab and can stay on target. I don’t run to the store and grab a frozen pizza or buy a McDonald’s meal because I have something at home that will taste better and that is just as easy to prepare. Most important, I feel good afterwards instead of guilty and regretful.
  • Helpful to do in twos: I do each day twice during the week. To save you money and time, plan three days for your meal plan and repeat them twice throughout the week.
  • Good Choices Only: I don’t fill my house with foods that aren’t healthy. I know that I don’t have the willpower to stay away from certain cravings. Therefore, I try not to keep those foods around (for me, those are things like chips, sour cream, cheese and crackers, ice cream, etc.). Instead I keep healthy options around, like plain Greek yogurt (easily replaces sour cream), fresh veggies, fruit, protein shakes, and so on. Then when I have a craving, I have healthy choices to keep me on track.
  • Moderation is Key: Even healthy foods can turn bad when you eat too many. I’ve found that with protein bars, I tend to eat too many and instead of gaining nutritional value, the overabundance makes them a bad choice. It’s important to remember to eat everything in moderation and to watch your calories and macros. I watch my calories by tracking them on MFP (
  • Protein Shakes: I love Shakeology (you can buy this here), and also use ISO-100 protein powder, Quest protein powder, and Body Fortress Super Advanced available at Wal-Mart. I like how it keeps me full and boosts my protein for the day. I tend to choose strawberry flavors because I think they are the best. While I mix them with just water, there are a ton of recipes available for shakes to make them taste phenomenal. Test the waters and see what you like best!
  • Support Groups Matter: It’s okay to have bad days. We all have them and that is why I love TD Nation, the support group I chose to join. TD Nation is a Facebook family where we inspire, motivate, and encourage each other along our fitness journeys. The key to success is to keep going and the support is what helps you do just that! To join TD Nation (or Camp Grit It) – Click HERE.

Meal Plan 2

A Sample Meal Plan for You

Remember to calculate your calories and talk to a doctor or nutritionist before making changes in your diet. It’s unsafe to go below a certain number of calories each day as you may end up gaining more weight than you lose. Exercise is also an important piece to developing a balanced diet. Find the exercise that is right for you and something that you enjoy. If you love doing it, you’ll be more likely to keep it up in the long run.

Take a look at this meal plan and add or make alternate choices. I look everything up on MFP to know the calories and macros (protein, carb, and fats). A common goal for macros is 50% protein, 30% carbs, and 20% fat if you are looking to lose weight and keep muscle. Again, remember that I am not an expert and am simply giving advice based on what I do. Make sure that you make choices that will benefit your body and your specific needs.

meal plan

Random Tips to Help You Out

  • I buy liquid egg whites. They are cheap and last a long time. A ¼ cup = 3 egg whites.
  • Some recipes are from TD Nation Boot Camp! Everyone should do at least one! If you want to join my TD Nation team, click here.
  • Salsa mix is onions, green pepper, tomato, cilantro, basil, oregano, garlic all chopped then ¾ cup balsamic vinegar and ¼ cup olive oil. This is a staple and lasts 1-2 weeks in fridge. I use on salads, meats, and everything!
  • I also buy frozen veggies all the time. They are quick and easy. I watch for the sales at Wal-Mart, Aldis, and HyVee. I only pay $1 or slightly over per bag.
  • I use mozzarella, parmesan, and asiago cheeses because they are lower in fat and carbs. Sometimes I just sprinkle over veggies or meat.
  • General meat serving sizes are 4-6 ounces, but may need to be adjusted to reach protein goals.
  • I buy the frozen chicken breasts (boneless, skinless) in a bag and cook the whole bag at once, and then I always have chicken ready. I bake it with seasoning or put it in the crockpot and cover it with a jar of salsa and cook 8 hours. Then it shreds wonderfully and can be used in many dishes or by itself.
  • I spray lemon juice over veggies instead of butter.

I hope this helps! Make up your own meal plan using the one above as a guide so that it fits your specific needs. Happy eating!

Lisa Jahn is a Professional Freelance Writer

DIY jahn waves

Thank you for sharing with us, Lisa! We’ll be sure to use these tips to create our own meal plans on a budget!!! 🙂

Let Lisa know what you thought of her post by commenting below!

17 Replies to “Are you ready? Meal Planning: Shop, Prep, Eat, WIN.”

    1. I’m glad it’s been helpful for you! You’re right – it saves money, time, and definitely helps a little with weight loss if that’s what you’re looking to do. Glad you enjoyed the post! Thanks for the comment 🙂

  1. Great tips, thank you! I am also a huge meal planner. I write out my list throughout the week as I notice we’re running low on regular staples (peanut butter, milk, cereal, condiments, etc.) and then do my shopping on Saturday afternoon and I pack my lunch every night so that when I get up in the morning it’s ready to go.

    1. That’s a great way to do it, Shannon! That’s how my wife and I are working on doing it as well. We plan all of our meals in advance and then make our breakfasts, lunches, and snacks the night before! Each night, we spend time together cooking our dinner. It’s a good system! 🙂 Glad you enjoy yours as well. Thanks for the comment!

  2. These are all great tips! We’ve been meal planning forever and it is so helpful in keeping us healthier and our budget on track. We tend to get bored pretty easily with our food selection, so having the same thing twice in one week wouldn’t work for us, but I loved the other suggestions. Thanks!

    1. That’s awesome, Ashley! I agree with the getting bored easily. The way my wife and I handle it is that we pack dinner leftovers for lunch at some point during the week. It’s easier to eat the same things at lunch. We always have a different dinner though. To each their own! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the tips and thanks for the comment!

  3. I do the same. I plan out all and make it all one shot but usually spread it over 5 days. It helps a lot and I hardly buy food outside and eat clean food from home

    1. Exactly! It makes such a difference when you are trying to save money and not buy food while you’re out and about. I’m glad you’ve found it helpful! Thank you for the comment, Rania 🙂

  4. I am a meal planner too. I will write here maybe will inspire.
    Comparing to the menu exposed, I have only one snack: at 16:00 1-2 fruits.
    Breakfast in the last years is composed from local season fruits (some I buy from local producers, some collect in the forests, in winter I have oranges, apples, kiwi, etc) but in the past I had eggs or dairy or fruits. I don’t know how it is for your area, but here the milk + cereals is an expensive breakfast, but 1 egg + avocado is cheaper; or yogurt homemade, or handmade french tartines/quiches etc.

    The dinner is doubled with the lunch from the next day. I have soups (Russian style or french style) + main dish that rotates different ingredients ( pasta with vegetables, or grill/oven meat/fish/ beans /rice/lentils/chickpeas + salads). I am focused to have one protein (meat, fish, cheese) or carbo at a lunch, and not mix these 2 types. The main dish is separately in dinner and the box for next day at job.

    As a remark, I cook in the weekend for 3-4-5 days, then I complete with something light: pasta, lentils, rice. Chickpeas/beans I am boiling once for 2 months ( because I am cooking just once every month) and the second part is in the freezer.

    I am not buying sauces: I cook on place ( mix mustard with yogurt, prepare mayoneese, boil tomatoes to have ketchup etc etc) and some I can cook once for 1-2 weeks and keep in a jar in the fridge. I am buying the full chicken and full fish, to use all the parts of these ( I cook broth monthly and it is perfect to use for rice risotto, lentils, soups) .
    I pay attention to have something row 2-3 per day, so I never buy any supplements and the blood tests are perfect (I am donor).
    When I have no job ( weekends, holidays, between jobs) I am walking in the local forests and collect wild weeds eatable: nettles, sorrels, dandelions, wild rocket salad etc. These are perfect to cook/add in salads and to replace the expensive fresh ingredients so I buy only bones to boil broth, chickpeas, lentils etc(what is very cheap here under 2 dollars/kilo) and salads from nature. I get the menu there under 50 dollars per week for 3 persons.
    Porridge is another cheap solution at the end of the week.

    1. Thank you for sharing all of this! It’s wonderful information and I bet it will help to inspire people on their journeys 🙂

      I love that you have soups so often. I really enjoy soup, especially now as the weather gets colder. If you have any favorite recipes to share I’d love to hear! Yummy soups are the best. It’s great that you have a soup that you combine with a main dish. Other recipes of yours that sound great are homemade ketchup and broths – I bet they’re delicious and way better for your budget! 🙂

      Thank you for sharing all of these great tips! 🙂

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