“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
Once a week, I am going to start sharing a tip, trick, or some interesting information about meal planning. I believe meal planning is critical to any long term and effective healthy living or weight loss goals. For me it was the single thing that finally made permanent weight loss achievable. The quote stood true, when I failed to plan, I failed, and I don’t want that to happen to others.
Additionally, I believe that meal planning is a skill that takes time to master and we can all use some help! When I first started meal planning it took up countless hours pouring over recipes, calculating nutritional info and/or points, and creating elaborate calendars. It was painful. Anything I can do to ease that pain for someone else is a win-win in my book.
Finally, I hope by sharing meal planning strategies, it will help you find a system that works for you. Whether it’s using our meal plans, scratching one into your weekly planner, or creating your own meal planning system – I hope this feature inspires you to start planning at least a few meals every week. It will save you time, money, and it truly will help you reach your weight loss and healthy living goals. So with that, on to this week’s tip!
Meal Planning Made Easy: Easy Low Calorie Swaps
No matter how much willpower you have, some days by the time dinner comes around you suddenly realize that you hardly have any calories (or PointsPlus®) left and need to make some impromptu dinner swaps to stay within your daily goal. Luckily instead of throwing in the towel and pushing your diet to the side for the day, you can make some easy swaps and quickly build a lighter meal to keep you on track.
- Substitute Veggie Noodles for Pasta: One of my favorite quick swaps to save calories is to substitute veggie noodles for pasta and save over 150 calories/5 PointsPlus® per 1 cup serving. Normally I reach for spaghetti squash since it can be cooked in about 10 minutes in the microwave or zucchini noodles since I always have zucchini on hand. However you can make delicious noodles from summer squash, eggplant, carrots, and any number of veggies.
- Substitute Cauliflower or Cabbage for Rice: Want to save 110 calories and 3 PointsPlus®? Swap out a half cup serving of cooked rice, couscous, or quinoa with 1 cup of cauliflower or cabbage rice. Just pulse it in a food processor until it looks like rice and give it a quick saute or steam in the microwave.
- Replace Tortillas with Lettuce Wraps: Eating tacos for dinner? Use lettuce wraps instead of tortillas to save around 100 calories and 2-3 PointsPlus® for every two tortillas. Butter lettuce is my favorite but almost any large leaf lettuce will work. Kale, collard greens, and chard can also make great vehicles for your favorite fillings.
- Substitute Portabella Mushrooms for Burger Buns: Making a burger or sandwich for dinner? Roast 2 portabella mushroom caps in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes and use them instead of a traditional bun. You’ll save between 100-200 calories and 2-5 PointsPlus®.
- Replace Butter and Oil with Broth: Just need to save a few calories? Instead of sauteing veggies in butter or oil, use vegetable broth instead. You’ll save 120 calories and 3 PointsPlus® for every tablespoon of olive oil.
- Build Your Meal as a Salad: One simple trick for building a lighter meal is to make the base a nice big salad using lots of veggies. When you pack your plate with greens, you can use less meat or grains to complete your meal.
- Make it a Soup: One of my favorite ways to use leftovers for lunch also is a great hack to make lower calorie dinners. Create a delicious soup by pairing half a serving of your favorite pasta, grain, bean, or shredded meat dish with 1-2 cups of your favorite low calorie soup or broth. Tomato and vegetable soups make great options as do chicken and vegetable broths. This works with so many recipes, you’ll be shocked at the delicious soup combinations you can create.
Love the idea of meal planning but don’t want to do all the work? Since I know that many people simply don’t have the time to create their own healthy meal plans, we provide delicious and healthy meal plans at Slender Kitchen.
Here are some highlights from this week’s healthy meal plans:
- Slow Cooker Beef Taco Chili
- Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad
- Apricot Couscous with Grilled Vegetables
- Grilled Vegetables and Chicken Sausages with Garlic Spaghetti Squash (low carb plan)
- Grilled Tandoori Chicken
- Jerk Pork Chops with Black Bean & Mango Salad
- Jerk Chickpeas (vegetarian plan)
- Seared Salmon
- Buffalo Blue Cheese Turkey Burgers
- Barbecue Chicken Cobb Salad
- Banana Peanut Butter Oat Bars
- & more
Each healthy weekly meal plan comes full of delicious recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The meal plans come in regular, vegetarian, and low carb options. All feature complete nutritional information, Weight Watchers PointsPlus®, and categorized shopping lists! There are also two bonus fallback recipes weekly and the option for either a complete meal plan or a Dinner Only plan. All that for less the cost of one cup of coffee per month with the yearly plan.