We often think of self-care as bubble baths, yoga sessions, and perhaps a glass of wine after a long day. While all of those are fabulous ways to relax and take care of yourself, we often overlook an essential aspect of self-care: meal planning. Yes, you heard that right. Planning your meals is not just a way to stay organized or save money; it’s a form of self-love and care. Let me tell you why.
What an absolute treat! We have a guest blogger talking to us about Meal Planning in your Journal as Self Care
Laurie is a certified personal trainer and health coach who works with women to ditch the diet and tap into their own intuitive eating practice .
She believes that food restriction and the focus on weight loss are secretly working against us and that reclaiming a healthy relationship with our bodies is the key to long term health. She’s worked as an online health coach and personal trainer for 5 years and loves being able to virtually coach women around the globe.
If you would like to read more on self care, we have a great post with 25 awesome self care bullet journal spreads.
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Why is meal planning a form of self care?
Self care is about taking good care of yourself and treating yourself as kindly as you treat others. Self-care is about making our own well-being a priority.
So why do so many of us put our needs at the bottom of the list, allowing ourselves to be in a constant state of stress in order to get through an endless list of tasks?
Makes You Mindful of What You Consume
When you plan your meals, you are consciously choosing the food that will nourish your body. This act alone makes you more mindful of the food you consume, ensuring that you’re giving your body the nutrients it needs to function optimally.
Relieves Stress and Anxiety
How many times have you found yourself stressed about what to cook for dinner? That last-minute dash to come up with something—anything!—can create unnecessary stress. Meal planning eliminates that stress by giving you a roadmap to follow, freeing your mind to focus on other things that bring you joy.
Empowers You to Make Healthier Choices
By planning your meals, you’re less likely to fall into the trap of quick, unhealthy options like fast food or pre-packaged meals. When you take the time to plan, you can choose recipes that align with your health goals, whether that’s losing weight, building muscle, or just eating a balanced diet.
Cultivates a Balanced Lifestyle
Meal planning is not just about the food you eat; it’s about creating a more balanced lifestyle. When your meals are planned, you have more time to engage in other self-care activities. Whether it’s going for a walk, reading a book, or spending time with loved ones, meal planning opens up time and mental space for other enriching activities.
Makes Room for Flexibility and Creativity
Contrary to popular belief, meal planning doesn’t mean you’re stuck with certain meals. On the contrary, it allows you to be more creative with your food choices. You can plan around seasonal produce, try new recipes, or even leave some days open for culinary adventures!
How can practicing some self-care help us protect our time, our energy and our health?
When we talk about self-care often we think of manicures, hot stone massages, and other luxuries. We don’t often think about planning, organizing, or scheduling as examples of self-care because they sound kinda like …well… work.
But here’s why we should consider these as self-care activities – they actually play a big role in protecting your health. Think about how you feel when you’re rushing around, running late, or looking for things that are never where you can find them.
And that’s a problem because if you spend enough time stressed out, your body will have a chronically elevated level of the stress hormone, cortisol, which can really be problematic for your health, in both the long and short term.
Self-care is important because by doing things that protect our time and energy, we minimize the low grade chronic stress that we bring upon ourselves by not being proactive.
Listen, if you’re about to say you’re too busy to sit down and take time to plan out meals for the week because it feels like one more chore to add to your already long list of things to do – trust me when I say taking time to plan for meals each week, and writing out a grocery list, ultimately benefits you in a lot of ways!
It will save you money because dining out is so much more expensive than preparing meals at home. It also means less food waste because you’ve only bought the items you need to prepare your meals.
It means you’ll eat healthier. Even when you make healthy menu choices, portions are generally twice what you’d normally eat, and restaurant food usually contains higher sodium levels than what we make at home. And it’s usually prepared using lower quality oils like soybean. With meals planned and prepped ahead of time, you’re less tempted to get greasy takeout or hit up the drive-thru.
Choosing ingredients from the grocery store gives you more control over the quality of your food. When you select and prepare your own food knowing exactly what is included in the dishes you make, you’re able to better control the quality of your meals.
And most of all, it means less STRESS. Planning meals reduces your stress level because you have a solid plan for your week and you won’t have to rack your brain at the last minute to figure out what’s for dinner, trying to pull something together with whatever you happen to have on hand.
How to create a simple meal plan:
- Print out the Weekly Meal Planner printable guide here.
- Take a look at your schedule for the upcoming week and note what days of the week will you be home to cook and which nights will be a little more rushed. For those nights, schedule a crockpot meal or pre-cooked dinner the night before.
- Schedule one day near the end of the week as Leftover Day, making sure not to let food and money go to waste
- Decide what you’ll eat on each day. Need menu ideas? Sites like emeals.com, TheFresh20.com and TheSixOclockScramble.com include healthy recipes that are quick and easy to prepare along with the grocery shopping list for you. Pricing starts at around $5 per month.
Create your Grocery List:
- Compile the list of ingredients from all your recipes
- Figure out what you have on hand and what you’ll need to pick up at the store
Prep Your Meals:
- Spend a few hours on the weekend doing some batch prep for your meals
- Cut all vegetables together
- Cook all grains and beans ahead of time
- Makes sauces, dressings and marinades
- Pack your prepped food in clear containers and make them accessible in the fridge.
- Think like a baker and cook up an extra batch. Plan to make double what you would normally make for dinner so you have leftovers for lunches and/or another dinner.
- Be sure to have food defrosted if you’re using any frozen items like meat, chicken, fish, etc.
Step-by-Step Guide: Creating a Meal Planner in Your Bullet Journal
One of the many benefits of bullet journaling is its adaptability, and what better way to use it than to plan something as essential as our meals? Creating a meal planner in your bullet journal is a straightforward process that brings both organization and creativity to your daily routine. Let’s dive into the steps to create your very own meal planner.
Step 1: Decide the Timeframe
First off, decide how far in advance you want to plan your meals. It could be for the week, bi-weekly, or even the entire month. The choice is yours!
Step 2: Reserve Pages
Flip to a new spread in your bullet journal and mark these pages specifically for meal planning. You might want to create an index or tab for easy access.
Step 3: Draw the Layout
You can get as creative as you want here! Draw columns or grids to represent each day of the week and, within those, you can have sections for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
Step 4: Choose Your Meals
This is the fun part! Start filling in the meals you’d like to have on each day. Try to balance it out with a mix of proteins, carbs, and plenty of veggies.
Step 5: Create a Grocery List
On the adjacent page or at the bottom of your layout, make a grocery list of all the items you’ll need for these meals. This ensures you won’t forget anything on your next trip to the store.
Step 6: Add Some Flair
Use stickers, doodles, or color codes to make your meal planner visually appealing. This makes the process more enjoyable and lets you express your creativity.
Step 7: Refer and Update
As you go through the week, refer to your meal planner each day. Make any necessary updates or changes. For instance, if you had a spontaneous dinner out, you can shift that day’s meal to another day.
Step 8: Reflect and Adjust
At the end of the week or your chosen timeframe, take a few moments to reflect. Did the meal plan work for you? Were there meals that you particularly enjoyed or didn’t? Adjust your next meal planner accordingly.
Final word on meal planning as stress relief
If you haven’t meal planned because it seems to time consuming, know that by creating a system, it will be so much faster and easier each time you do it. Once you start implementing a weekly meal plan, you’ll notice you feel less stressed over the dinner-time rush.
You’ll feel so much less stressed when you know you’re ready for the week and you have what you need to make healthy meals for your family. Taking an hour to sit and plan your meals for the week will save you much more than that in time and energy in the long run.
Your Next Step: Take Control with Our Bullet Journal Weight Loss Printable
If you’ve been nodding along, realizing how much sense this all makes, then I’ve got just the thing for you. Our Bullet Journal Weight Loss Printable is designed to be your ultimate companion in this self-care journey. It includes a detailed meal planning section that makes the process a joy rather than a chore.