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Planning is, if not, one of the more important tasks of weight loss.  Now that I have talked about the aspects of proper nutrition for weight loss (or just necessary daily nutrition) it’s time to begin learning how to make an organized menu plan to make yourself accountable for the items that energize your body.  Yes, it does sound like a hassle at first but after a few runs through the process, it gets easier.  Plus, once you have a few weeks planned out, the entire week can be used once again.  Simple!

Simple rules to use as a guide while planning:

1.  Always have at least 1200 calories per day.  As stated before the human body can not function long-term on less than this amount per day.  Long-term restricted diets can lead to organs discontinuing to function and brain damage and who wants that in the future?

2.  Eat at least 3 meals a day.  Eating less than 3 meals will lead to starvation mode and loss of muscle.  It’s simple to eat at least 3 times a day anyways, food is ones’ friend.

3.  Eat clean food.  This means one has to eat fruits and vegetables to make a healthy body inside and out for the long term.  Basically this means, cut out the white flour, reduce sodium, eliminate pre-packaged meals, reduce meat if not vegan, and finally eat as many natural ingredients as possible.

4.  Change things up.  Many people seem to believe healthy food is tasteless food.  This is because one has previously devoured store food laden with sodium, sugar, fat and etc.  These ingredients trick the mind into believing food naturally has this flavor but once you start eating healthy foods again, the taste buds will return and food tastes amazing.  Additionally, try out new foods.  Do research if needed, I hear the internet has everything one needs.  Test things at least three times to see what your new taste buds like or dislike.

5.  Remember Fuel after Workouts:  Never work out and then skip refueling.  Your body will feel and perform better the next day if you fuel it to rebuild the nutrients in the body that were lost after a workout.  This means water and food.

Free Menu Plans with Recipes Online

The menu itself can be done in two different methods.  Firstly, there are a lot of different healthy menus with recipes online for free.  Here are a few…

1.  PCRM Vegan menu plan: When we first went vegan, Genki Husband and I followed along with the PCRM 21 Day Vegan Kickstart menu- 100% free.

2.  Vegan Nutritionista Website:  This seems like a nice start for those looking to get health while eating vegan.  The recipes are a bit heavier on the dinner side but feel free to work the meals if you tend to like heavier lunches instead of before bedtime.

3.  Viva! Health Website: This is a rather nice website menu plan if you are new to cooking and have no recipes on hand.  Not only does the website tell you want to eat per meal but also gives you all the recipes.  Simple right!?!

4.  Peta Website:  This is a two week plan that works great when you don’t want to think about anything – it tells you what you should eat every meal for two weeks – easy!

5.  Shape:  Love this menu plan (even though it’s not vegan) since it gives a great idea on how to plan a day of working out and eating properly per hour of the day.

6.  Sparkpeople Website: Sparkpeople is a great opportunity for free menus after you have signed up for free as a member.  Yes, it’s 100% free!  Once you select the option to have free balanced menus, simple put in what you eat and what you do not eat and the system creates a menu for you.  Word of note:  There is not a 100% vegan option but you can substitute vegan options such as scrambled tofu instead of eggs for breakfast.  It also tells you how many calories you have eaten per day.  Love, love, love this site!

Make Your Own Menus

For the second option, try making a menu at home without any help.  This is my favorite method since I love looking up and creating my own recipes.  (Look out for plenty of new recipes – they have been created but I’m still writing them up now.)  It does take a bit more time since you have to assure the calories per recipe and also nutritional facts per meal.  It is important to double check nutritional facts to make sure you are eating properly for your bodies’ needs.

Free Printouts to start your menu planning: 1, 2, and 3 (Or I like to make my own in excel)

Basically just pick enough dinner recipes out for the entire week.  Normally I choose 5 recipes and use the leftovers for not only lunch but for the end of the week.  It saves money and keeps you accountable for your calorie counts.  Don’t forget to plan your snacks too!

So this is what one needs to properly plan for weight loss or maintenance in ones’ hectic life.  Keeping with a healthy, nutritious, active lifestyle does take a bit of planning but in the years to come when your medical results continue to state you are in superior health, you will be thankful you took the extra time.  Remember just because you appear to be healthy today but aren’t feeding the body properly, your results in the years to come may not be so positive.  As always, I wish everyone to keep healthy, active and enjoy life to its fullest.

What’s your tip for menu planning and keeping on target with healthy eating?