Are you one of the many people who are in the habit of staring into the refrigerator each night and asking themselves “what’s for dinner?” Unfortunately this often ends in a quick trip through the nearest fast food drive-thru, or microwaving some processed, pre-packaged meal from a box, bag or can. And of course none of these has any real nutritional value to offer.
If you want to adopt a healthy keto lifestyle, don’t leave your meals to chance this way. Instead, try making just a little time each week (or month or whatever works best for you) to do some menu planning. It will go a long way toward supporting your success.
There are most definitely advantages to planning your meals out ahead of time.
It gives you complete control over what you eat.
When your diet is made up of pre-packaged convenience foods, you are absolutely consuming a host of unhealthy ingredients, many of which are NOT keto friendly! The only way to know exactly what you’re eating is to prepare it yourself. Always make sure to read the label on any ingredient you’re considering.
It minimizes grocery costs and food waste.
Menu planning allows you to shop for only what you need, in the right amounts, so you’re not spending a lot of extra on things you may or may not end up using. This is especially helpful if you’re on a tight budget (like me).
You’ll always have what you need on hand.
Picture it (tell me I’m not the only one who thought of Sophia Petrillo just now!) – you come across a great recipe and think “I’m going to make this for dinner tonight!” Feeling all excited, you start gathering up the ingredients you’ll need only to find that something is missing. (I hate it when that happens!) Planning ahead helps you avoid this little annoyance.
Having a menu plan makes it easy to see if something isn’t working.
Let’s say you hit a plateau in your weight loss, or you’re a type 2 diabetic and your blood sugar level is still too high. Being able to look back at what you’ve eaten over a period of time is enormously helpful in figuring out what changes you need to make to get yourself on the right track. For instance, are you eating too much protein? Not enough? Are you consuming hidden carbs or sugar? Having a record is also helpful if you decide to have someone else help you tweak your diet, or if you need to share it with your doctor or other health care provider.
Planning makes it easy to eat the right things on your keto diet.
I can tell you first hand how easy it is when you’re not keeping track to eat WAY too much! Even if you’re eating all keto-friendly foods, it’s still helpful to know how much fat, protein and carbs and how many overall calories you’re consuming each day, especially if one of your goals is weight loss. Tracking your macros helps you consume the right amount from each of these groups.
Planning Made Easy
Using a macros tracker (I like Cronometer) to help with menu planning takes the guess work out of it. Simply enter each food and make adjustments to the amount of each one until the ratios of protein, carbs and fat are right, and the total number of calories for the day is where you want it to be. This makes it so easy to make sure every meal, every day is just right!
Just my two cents here, but I want to mention that while I love Cronometer for tracking what I eat, I do NOT like it at all for calculating how many calories and in what ratios I should consume in a day. I suggest that if you decide to use it that you first find another keto calculator to figure out these amounts and then enter them into Cronometer as custom values (doing that is really easy, I promise!) There are lots of macros trackers out there, many of which have a free version. You could use any of them to plan your menu.
Here is a sample meal I put together on Cronometer as an example:
Pretty easy, right?
I enter the amount of each individual food I want to eat, and it shows me the amount of each of the macros I’m consuming for each one. It also tells me how close I am to meeting my daily goal for each. You can adjust the food amounts depending on how many meals a day you’re eating. Aim to spread them out pretty evenly across each meal. The sample shown here would be good if you are eating two meals a day. If you’re just doing one, you simply need to eat more of the foods you have listed or add others to reach your goals.
As I work my way through planning my menu, I make my grocery list so I know exactly what I’ll need.
Timing Is Important Too
One of the most beneficial things you can do in the keto way of eating is to incorporate intermittent fasting. Planning your meals ahead like this is a super simple way to help you stick to that and still get all the nutrition you need.
Keep It Simple
Planning your menu out for whatever period of time works best for you will make adhering to your keto lifestyle so much simpler. Say goodbye to the stress of staring into the fridge and wondering what’s for diner!
Keto on, my friends!