“Nobody plans to fail. They just fail to plan.”—Anon.

Planning a Healthy Diet

Have you eaten out this week because you didn’t really have appealing food at home? It happens.

We have more control over what we eat and how much we eat at home. We also eat more fruits and vegetables, and fewer calories at home. But how can you eat at home more often?

Planning! Planning is key to making healthy meal choices. Follow these tips below to get started.

overhead shot of woman making a fresh salad

Meal Planning Made Easy

  • Write down what you usually have for breakfast (include drinks like coffee or milk).
  • Write down some go-to lunch ideas.
  • Write down 5 meals that your family likes.
  • Use our meal planning worksheet to fill in your ideas for each day of the week. You may have leftovers for lunch, or a clean-out-the-fridge-night. Make an effort to include all the food groups!
  • Check the freezer, refrigerator, and pantry for items that you’ll need to feed your family for that week.
  • Check out the sale ads and see what you can use this week. If there’s a really good deal, you can make a substitution if needed.
  • Make your grocery list. Don’t forget breakfast, lunch, and staples items.
  • Plan your trip to the grocery store.
    1. Try to go when the store is not too busy.
    2. Go by yourself if possible.
    3. Eat a snack before you go so you won’t be hungry (which may help you with impulse buys).
    4. Don’t forget your list!
  • Put pantry ingredients for each recipes together in small baskets or tubs if you have space.
  • Wash and cut up vegetables for the beginning of the week. Put extras in separate containers to use for snacks and lunches.
planning notebook with weights and an apple

What are SMART goals?

Take some time to think about your goals. Do you want to eat healthy? Exercise? Drink more water?

That’s great! But how will you accomplish those goals? Consider using SMART goals!

SMART Goals are:

Specific- clarify what you want
Measurable- how do you know if you accomplished that goal?
Attainable- Is it possible to achieve within the time frame you set?
Realistic- Is your goal right for you, your situation, and resources?
Time-bound- What’s the period of time you have to achieve the goal?

SMART Goals are Different for Every Person

Would “losing 100 pounds in 8 weeks” be a SMART goal? It is specific, measurable, and time-bound. But it’s not very attainable or realistic, is it?

“I willreplace soda with 1 glass of water at all of my evening meals for 2 weeks” –is that a SMART goal? It is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound!

Here are more examples of SMART goals:

  • I will track my food using MyFitnessPal app for two weeks.
  • I will include 1 fruit and 1 vegetable with 3 meals each week for 4 weeks.
  • I will exercise at lunch 3 times a week for 4 weeks. I will put a reminder on my calendar so I won’t forget.
  • I will plan mealseach week for 8 weeks. I will post the plan so my family knows what we will be having.
  • I will shut down electronic devices an hour before bedtime at least 5 times each week for 3 weeks.

Pro Tip: Use a food tracker (such as MyFitnessPal or SparkPeople, etc.) to measure.

group of happy looking people with hands combined in a huddle

Setup for Success

Need ideas to set yourself up for success? Here are some things to think about:

  • If you have a hard time fitting in breakfast – put it together the night before, Overnight Oats or Scrambled Egg Muffins, to grab on your way out the door.
  • If you can’t find time to exercise – take 10 minutes at a time! 10 minutes at lunch (go for a walk or close the door to your office and move for 10 minutes), 10 minutes with the kids or significant other before dinner, 10 minutes after dinner, etc. Once you start finding that 10 minutes, add to it.
  • You could even schedule some exercise – got a kid in soccer? Park far out and walk in. Then walk around the fields during practice, warm up, etc. Schedule exercise right after work. Or before work. Just put it on your schedule.
  • “I always go out for lunch and just can’t eat healthy!” Save money and calories by planning a healthy lunch to take with you (just don’t forget to grab it on your way out the door!). If you pack a lunch for the kids, pack one for yourself too.
  • Can’t get to sleep? Get into a routine of shutting off electronic devices an hour before bed. Brush your teeth, wash your face, take a bath, and meditate.
  • Drink too many sodas? Start off by replacing some soda with a flavored water. Treat yourself to an infuser and experiment with different flavors! Keep replacing the sodas with water until you don’t even miss the soda.
  • Just don’t like green things? Then go for other colors! Orange, red, yellow, purple are all great vegetable colors also. Or try cooking a green thing a different way – roasted broccoli is much better than boiled-to-death-broccoli.
basket of assorted vegetables

Daily Planning

How Many Calories do I need in a day?

It can be difficult to understand how many calories you actually need in a day. Instead of guessing find the real answer based on your age, weight, activity level, and gender.

We suggest using MyPlate Plan.

Using is MyPlate simple!Go to their website and fill in your information to get your personal calorie count options. You can even see menus for your calorie level.

Once you know your daily caloric needs. Track your calories using an app (such as MyFitnessPal or SparkPeople). Just tracking for a week, even on paper, will help you see patterns. Take it a step further and record your mood when you eat. Include a goal for the week, such as watching portion sizes, eating 3 cups of fruits& vegetables a day, reducing sugar-sweetened drinks, etc. Review your diary and look for patterns. Is your eating triggered by boredom, rather than hunger? Look for other ways to combat boredom such as walking around the office instead of walking to the break area/kitchen. If you get “hangry” often, then you may need smaller, more frequent meals and light, high-fiber snacks.

Set Yourself Up for Success

We never plan to skip the gym and sit on the couch for hours instead. It just happens, but you can plan to eat a healthy dinner (remember that Meal Planning worksheet?). Just like you can plan to exercise at lunch for 20 minutes. Then, you can plan to scroll through Facebook after you’ve finished your other priorities.