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You may think that if you can’t strictly follow your carefully crafted meal plan there’s just no point. But that’s where you are wrong. Life happens, moods change and there are a number of reasons why what you planned just isn’t making it to your mouth. I’m giving you a peek at one of my recent meal plans vs. reality to show you that meal planning doesn’t have to be restrictive.
I post my meal plan every week. What we’re having for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even snacks is out there for all to see. This has led to some misconceptions. I’ve had friends make comments like, “Oh, you only eat healthy meals.” That may be what is on my weekly menu but there are times my meal plan and reality just don’t line up.
Mom Guilt Myths
Sometimes I think we get an idea in our head that other people have things figured out and we’re the only ones struggling or doing things imperfectly.
I have a friend who I think is such a great mom. I knew she packed her kid’s lunches and it made me feel a little guilty that I let my child buy his lunch. I had a whole system in place I was going to use for his lunches but he told me he wanted to buy his lunch instead. Okay, easier for me I thought.
But I was almost a little embarrassed I was letting him buy lunch from school. Especially when I imagined my mom friend lovingly packing healthy, wonderful lunches for her kids. Probably with little notes or sandwiches cut into stars or butterflies.
Then, one day we were talking about lunches and I found out her kids don’t bring their lunch to school every day. They buy their lunch sometimes too! It’s funny how we get something into our head and make up things that bring on the mom guilt.
Meal Planning Myths
It can be the same with meal planning. You might think, oh they’ve got all their meals planned out. They probably sit around the table in the evenings and share interesting things about their day. Everyone smiling and laughing. The kids saying, “Wow mom! This meatloaf is delicious can I have some more after I eat all my vegetables?”
I’m here to tell you, meal planning doesn’t mean you’ll be sitting around the dinner table like the Cleavers. But, it does help tame some of the chaos and help you be prepared. It’s good to know if you need to pack a meal to eat at soccer practice.
Meal Plan vs. Reality
Here’s a little peek at one of my Weekly Menus versus what we really ate that week. You can find the original menu post here. The whole menu is posted below. For each day I’ve listed the original meal plan on the left and what we actually ate that day on the right. Green means we ate on plan, red means we did not.
Even though I was following the 80 Day Obsession meal plan I still went off plan and made pancakes & turkey bacon for breakfast. This meal plan fell over Labor Day Weekend. The day before we celebrated my husband’s birthday with fajitas. We had a ton of leftovers so we had those for lunch. My container counts were off for the day so I changed up my afternoon snack to get back on track. I actually put dots on the menu for each container I had so I knew what I had left. We went out for dinner to see our neighbor’s band play and I was still able to stay on track with my containers.
Started the day off by following the meal plan. And that’s the only meal that followed the plan. I picked up the snack from the day before. We ended up going out for lunch. I was able to stick with my containers even though we ate out. I didn’t feel like making the muffins so I just had a snack I keep on hand. For dinner I made the meal we were supposed to have on Sunday for lunch.
Started the morning off strong by staying on plan with both breakfast and my morning snack. I had what was supposed to be dinner on Sunday for lunch. Actually made the muffins for my afternoon snack. Made the teriyaki salmon for dinner that was scheduled for dinner on Monday night.
I really do like to have my Shakeology for breakfast! I was craving an omelet so I made one for my morning snack. The plans were to go into the office and eat out for lunch. But, my plans changed and I stayed home and had leftovers from dinner the night before. My afternoon snack was my trusty standby. Earlier in the week I noticed the ground beef’s expiration date was approaching so I froze it. I made the Chicken Parmesan that was on Tuesday night’s menu instead. I ended up making the Beef & Veggie Pot Pie the next week.
Started off on plan with breakfast. Wanted to use up my fresh bell pepper so I created a sausage & bell pepper wrap for my morning snack. It was delicious! My son asked me to have lunch with him. I brought him Chick-fil-a and picked up a salad for my lunch. I ran out of carrots, hummus & grapes so I ate the fruit I had left with some nuts. Didn’t get in my green container though. I heated up leftovers and ate them in the car during my son’s soccer practice. He ate when he got home.
Started and ended on plan. The middle, not so much. Made a waffle breakfast sandwich. Didn’t get my green container in. I’m the worst at eating veggies. Picked up some sushi, dumplings & seaweed salad for lunch while I was at the grocery store. Also picked up some jicama chips with a delicious pineapple cream cheese dip for my afternoon snack. I love that jicama counts as a veggie because it tastes more like fruit to me. For dinner I picked up a salad at our favorite bbq restaurant.
I ran out of Shakeology so I had one of my son’s Daily Sunshine smoothies instead. I was trying to fit in my last 80 Day Obsession workout so I ran out of time to make a morning snack before my son’s soccer game. Grabbed a Beachbar for my morning snack. Chocolate Cherry Almond is my favorite. For lunch I ate the rest of the dumplings I picked up at the grocery store the day before with some grapes. We went to a friend’s house for a barbecue in the afternoon. I made guacamole for an afternoon snack. For dinner I had chicken, green beans and corn casserole.
More Red Than Green
As you can see this particular week was a great example of how your meal plan and reality just might not line up. And that’s okay. Because while we may not have eaten everything exactly according to plan, meal planning helped me have enough food to eat all week. Meals we didn’t eat one day, got moved to another day. I didn’t have to go to the store during the week or wonder what on earth we were going to eat. I didn’t end up snacking on unhealthy things like chips (okay, I may have had some chips with my guac) because I planned and bought enough healthy food options for snacks.
Just because you don’t always stick with your meal plan doesn’t mean you have to give up on meal planning altogether. Chances are you’ll follow the plan more often than you don’t. Especially if you avoid the most common meal planning mistakes.