The secret to meal planning success – a preview
In the coming weeks I am going to deconstruct the art of successful meal planning. And the secret to that is REALLY PLANNING. That’s not to be confused with prepping. It’s about anticipating the situation and making sure you are prepared. This is something we do in everyday live without even thinking about it. For example, if your weather app says there is a 60 percent chance of rain, you are not going to wear suede shoes, right? And you’ll probably take an umbrella. The same principles apply to meal planning.
Customizable DAOFitlife Meal Plan and Grocery List Links– Week 12
- Customizable DAOFitlife Meal Plan and Grocery List Template Google Sheet (updated for week 11)
- Downloadable DAOFitlife Meal Plan and Grocery List Template Excel Document
- Printable DAOFitlife Meal Plan and Grocery List Template PDF
DAOFitlife Exercise Plan – Week 12
Exercise Template Links
- Customizable DAOFitLife Exercise Plan Google Sheet Template (updated for week 12)
- Downloadable DAOFitLife Exercise Plan Excel Document
- Printable DAOFitlife Exercise Plan PDF
For lunch, I like having options that are easy and relatively consistent. For every meal you should have a “little back dress” option. A little black dress is somethng you can throw together without even thinking about it. I have several “LBDs” in my wardrobe. One for work when I am in a huge rush, one for impromptu weekend outings, like shopping or meeting up for coffee; and one for parties in case I just can’t decide. So just like these three scenarios, I have an “LBD” for my breakfast, lunch and dinner.
My “LBD” for lunch is my chicken squash supergreens salad. I have been doing this almost every day and I take a combo of squash and root vegetables with chicken for my protein and apple cider vinaigrette. I mix up the non-oil version of the braggs with the regular vinaigrette version so I get some fat. The refrigerated items are all at the top shelf in the fridge and then the dressing is always bottled on the counter. This takes literally less than 3 minutes for me to assemble and 5 if I want my food hot, i heat up the chicken and the vegetables.
I also have a “LBD” salad option from my local salad bar eatery, which is Sweetgreens. I have enclosed the ingredients for that in my more detailed meal plan template, which also has macro and calorie information. The Sweetgreens app also allows you to store your salad, which is great, but you can also add any salad recipes as meals in the MyFitnessPal app, which I recommend in my DAO of metrics post.
The Wedding challenge
This week my meal planning skills will be put to the test. I will be a bridesmaid in a wedding in the Appalachia region of Virginia. That means I need to plan my meals for Friday and Saturday.
And I do that just like I do my meal plans for the week that I have been sharing for you. First I work backwards from the meals I know. I know at the rehearsal dinner I will be having chicken, because that’s what I selected in my RSVP. And for the dinner I have selected salmon. I plan on having a wedding cake piece as my 20 for the weekend.
On Friday, we will be arriving later in the day so I will have had my breakfast and lunch at home. So that takes care of Friday.
Saturday is more tricky. I got an email from the bride that I have to be at the getting ready site at 7:30. It’s a private residence/guest house. There will be both breakfast and lunch served. But I don’t know exactly what will be served, so I need to make sure I am prepared. When there are situations in which I don’t have control over what is being served, I plan accordingly (you may think I could be asking the bride but you NEVER ask the bride questions the week before the wedding, that’s just a d&*( move). I know she eats healthy though, because she’s been using my Bride Guide, so I am fairly comfortable the selections will include healthy eats.
Even with that assumption, I need to make sure to plan and not be left flat-footed. I called the hotel and they informed me that they start breakfast at 6am. So rather arrive all hungry into an unknown situation, I will have a small breakfast before I leave.
The Hotel Breakfast Buffet Trap
As a side note, you have to be very careful with hotel breakfast buffets. I covered some of this in the DAO of crushing fitness by traveling, but if you are staying in a fairly standard hotel in a less urban area, or at a conference, you are likely going to be facing a pre-made breakfast buffet situation (now, they have people that serve you because of COVID, but it’s pretty much going back to the standard way of things). So you will usually have premade frittatas or scrambled eggs, or some type of pre-made omelette for protein choice.. Carbs usually have either bagels, sometimes toast, a waffle station and cereals. THere usually is some kind of fruit available, like a fruit salad or apples and bananas. And there are usually cups of yogurt in an ice box.
My strategy is simple. As long as I am eating in my macros and calories, I don’t have to worry about the fact that these aren’t normally the foods I would eat. I start with the proteins. If there are hardboiled eggs, I eat those because it’s not really possible to add any extra calories. If there is unflavored yogurt, I will have that. If my only choice for protein is the premade eggs, I will have that but add about a tablespoon’s worth of butter or oil to my calorie/fat intake and account for any extra toppings like cheese baked in.
For carbs, I will stick to fruit if that’s all that is available, and take whatever I can to go that’s portable (like the apples or bananas). If there are any whole wheat bagels or toast, I will have a piece with some nut butter, if that’s available. The cereals are usually not great selections, like raisin bran (which is packed with sugar) or Fruit Loops (lots of sugar and artificial colors). But if there is Special K and no good grain option for carbs I will probably have a bowl of that with a splash of almond milk, which I should have from my make your own minibar suggestion. And if I don’t, I will have a splash of whole milk (you can read my article on fat to see why I am not a fan of fat-free dairy).
In the case of the wedding situation, I will hedge by not eating a full breakfast at the hotel. 730 is really early, so if I eat about the equivalent that I would for my pre-workout meal, that will be enough so I am not starving and I can nibble on whatever is available at the wedding site.
For the rest of the day up until the wedding, it’s a lot of waiting around and taking pictures. I will make sure that I have snacks on hand that will make sure I am not ravenous during the ceremony and then tempted to grab whatever hors d’oevres there are during cocktail hour. Here’s a list of snacks I plan on bringing:
- Think Jerky Free range turkey jerky
- Madi K’s almonds 100-calorie pack
- Ziploc of goji berries, dates, and figs
- Crunchmaster protein snack crackers – For 32 crackers, there are only 120 calories, which is pretty good. And also 5g protein with 17g of whole grains.
For the first two snacks, they are in pre-portioned bags so that ensures portion control. For the fruit and the crackers, I generally try to divide them by how many I would eat in one day into the ziploc bags. Then I usually keep all of the snacks in a large makeup bag so it blends with my stuff if someone happens to notice.
These “insurance” snacks and meals so you won’t be stuck with whatever someone else in complete control of the menu has to offer. So if you show up to a party and they only have fried food for apps, or bagels are the only breakfast, you are a lot less likely to say, screw it and house a bagel smeared with cream cheese just because you are starving and not sure when at the next point in the day you are going to eat will occur.
This week I am focused on upper body given that I am wearing a gown that basically only shows my arms. Head over to my Linkedin Story for a viewing of sample of my workout. If you want tips on a good arm workout you can head over to my post about getting awesome arms. Obviously there’s no one work out but working your arms a few days before an event can increase the amount of definition because of the “pump” of blood to the muscles.
Workout playlist of the week is a Coldplay Alternative Blend: