By nature, some of us seem to be planners while others are more spontaneous. Although some spontaneity is a good thing, when it comes to diet and exercise, having a plan will likely keep you on track. Here are some simple tips to help you plan ahead for dietary success and live a more active lifestyle.
Plan a weekly menu
Once a week (maybe a day or two before you grocery shop), create a weekly dinner menu. Choose one new recipe each week and save it for a night when you have a little more time to spare. Explore nutritious and flavor-packed options like the Campbell Chef Inspired Recipes. This collection is a great way to add a creative burst to your routine. It’s also a good idea to make a few quick and easy-to-prepare options as part of your weekly plan. Find recipes or products that require very little prep work, like Campbell‘s® Slow Cooker Sauces or make one day "soup and sandwich night.” Keep track of your meals each week to avoid repetition and make room for new foods and recipes. Not sure how to start planning a menu? Check out the Campbell Healthy Eating Plans, which provide a simple, balanced, and tasty seven-day menu plan at different calorie and sodium levels.
Make a master grocery list
Before heading to the store, create an extensive list of all the foods you may want to purchase. Don’t forget to include all the ingredients you need in the recipes you plan to make. Try using a smartphone app to make your list—that way you’ll always have it with you. Break it down into food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, etc.) and feel free to include low calorie beverages, snacks, spices/seasonings and other categories. Avoid impulse purchases—review the selections on your list before entering the store and avoid shopping when hungry.
Buy in bulk, cook in bulk
When you buy in bulk, you can cook in bulk, which allows you to refrigerate or freeze meals for another day—a great way to plan ahead for lunch or dinner when you don’t have time to cook! Buy snacks in family size packs and portion them into individual containers as soon as you get home from the store – snacks will be ready for the week. Store them all in a grab and go snack drawer.
Exercise – keep the appointment
Choose set days and times for exercise to help make it a habit. Make it a recurring appointment on your calendar or set a repeating alarm on your phone. Maybe every Monday and Wednesday you walk for 30 minutes during your lunch break, and every Friday you bike ride with your friend, spouse or child, and plan a special hike or nature walk over the weekend. When you jot down your weekly dinner menu, why not include the exercise schedule?
These tips require a little time up front, but they’ll save you a lot of time in the long run. They may even help you save money, feel less stressed, and reduce the risk of poor food choices by limiting situations when you are hungry and unprepared.
Plan now. You’ll thank yourself later!
Kate Williams, R.D.
Kate received her bachelor’s degree in dietetics from the University of Delaware and completed her dietetic internship at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. She has over ten years of experience in a variety of nutrition-related practice areas including clinical nutrition, weight management counseling, health and wellness and nutrition education. Kate has worked as a nutrition consultant to the Campbell Soup Company since 2005.