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How to plan meals for a week using a meal pattern

Meal pattern planning is a simple meal-planning strategy

Planning meals for a week using a meal pattern saves you time, helps with your emotional eating, reduces your hunger, and helps with managing stress better. Meal planning is a systematic way to think in advance about how you would like your meals to look while considering your schedule, health goals, and needs. 

What is a meal pattern?

A meal pattern is an outline with a general plan of how to choose your meals. In this manner, you have structure and guidance for meal decisions.

This pattern is something that you can follow, no matter what foods you plug in.

A meal pattern is a form of meal planning that uses a guide to help you select meals that honor your body’s needs and decreases your stress. For more on how meal planning helps with stress and emotional eating, see the article Top 5 benefits of meal planning

Using a meal pattern is easy because you can adapt and expand the approach to meet your needs, as you desire. 

Meal pattern planning is a simple meal-planning strategy

Save time by using this meal planning strategy to simplify your meal planning routine. By following an easy approach to meal planning, you can save time and decrease your anxiety and stress around meals. In this article,

I’ll outline a meal-planning pattern you can use to simplify your meal-planning process. 

Meal Pattern Sample

A meal pattern helps with meal planning

A meal pattern helps with meal planning by creating a system for batching meal decisions, shopping, and preparation.

With a meal pattern, you have an outline to simplify decisions and maximize your time planning.

For instance, you can check supplies for all meals for the week at the same time. This approach translates into making on a grocery trip to the store for all items at once.

By having flexibility and structure at the same time, you can add in your favorite foods and not feel overwhelmed.

How to use the meal pattern

You may wonder how to use a meal pattern.  When using a meal pattern, you are creating simple patterns by following an outline for planning meals.

The pattern is the process used to make decisions. For example, each meal includes specific category items.

Examples of categories in a meal pattern:

Meal check list with examples

So, no matter what meal you are designing, that meal will need a choice to be selected for what

Here are 5 steps to using a meal pattern for meal planning: 

Step 1: Planning your GO-TO meals

Start by taking a few minutes to list out a few of your favorite meals you make on a piece of paper or notecards. This means the meals you do not have to put much energy or thought into making the meal.

These are the meals you know everyone likes. 

Identify the main ingredients and what food category the food falls in.

Think about categories like proteins, vegetables, and grains..

Step 2: Consider all forms of your meals

Write down the different types of food prep you have available to you. 

Ask yourself 4 questions:

  1. What slow cooker meals can I make? Examples include- roast, roasted chicken, beans, fiesta chicken
  2. What convenience meals do I like to eat? Examples- pot pies, frozen dinners
  3. What meals can I prepare and double or triple the recipe to make extras to freeze for later? Examples include taco meat, soup, beans, casseroles
  4. What meals can I make from the pantry items I keep in your cabinets? Examples include canned soups, vegetables, fruits, tuna, and salmon packs.

Step 3: Determine the number of meals to make for the week

Pick how many meals you will make during the week and how many nights you can eat leftovers from the previous night. When you know the number, you have to work with, then you can mix the choices up by the style of meals.

Step 4: Choose what types of recipes to use

Decide if you want to try any new recipes. If you are trying new recipes, make sure to add in a little extra time. So, choosing nights you have plenty of time and are not in a rush is best. Many clients find doing a new recipe works best on the weekends.

Step 5- Design a plan with basic food groups

Plan for at least 4-5 food groups to be in a well-balanced meal. One key is to use a protein group, a vegetable, and a grain.

Try taco, tortilla, rice, shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions

Now that you are under the steps for a meal pattern, we will get into the steps of how using a meal pattern for planning helps with meals.

How to plan meals using a meal pattern

By using a meal pattern, you can plug in meals you know you enjoy and are comfortable with making. You don’t feel like you are taking on a whole new lifestyle or feel overly restricted.  You know, kind of what happens when people typically go on a diet.

A few top areas to consider include:

  • your schedule
  • food preferences and health needs
  • food items on hand
  • items easily accessed
  • length of food availability
  • storage needs
  • sales at the store

By having variety in meal pattern options, you can help keep a fresh rotation in your meal planning.

When is the best time to meal plan?

The best time to meal plan is when you can think clearly and feel good about your plan. When you can think clearly about your food selection, you are able to consider the many factors that go into what foods are best for your body and meals.

Making decisions when your brain is fully nourished, AKA not hungry, and you are not in an overly emotional state, helps you to plan foods that you feel good about.

When your nourished brain can think clearly, meal decisions are easier to make.  You can think about the big picture of meals and consider your schedule and what will help you feel good best.

Feeling good about your eating helps decrease any negative chatter about food and planning and helps you be more satisfied

But to make this meal, advanced meal planning is key, so you have pantry supplies available to you.

Meal patterns are easy to duplicate

By having several ideas for easy-to-follow routines, you can simplify mealtimes. The key to using this strategy is to create a routine.

A routine of meal planning is a much better approach than a routine of eating out regularly. When you prepare meal patterns in advance you are eliminating that last-minute scramble to find something fast to eat.

The key to building quick and easy meals is planning and creating a pattern in your daily routine so that it becomes a habit. You know, like turning that coffee pot on every morning or grabbing that sandwich you made last night for work.

Even with meal patterns, emotional eating sometimes feels like the biggest problem.

Here are your action steps

Refer to the steps for using a meal pattern above when designing meals. Advanced planning with a customized pattern that works for you simplifies your routines and saves you time. If you would like some help creating meal patterns in your meal planning that is just right for you, reach out and schedule a free discovery call.

If you are concerned that meal pattern planning will not help your emotional eating and want a quick evaluation to find out if you are an Emotional Eater, take our free emotional eater quiz.

Take our free emotional eating quiz to find out if YOU are an Emotional Eater

Take the Emotional Eating Quiz

Additional resources that may be helpful:

Kathryn Fink Martinez

Conquer food fear and overwhelm! My passion is helping guide people who are embarrassed about their struggle with food and teaching them simple habit changes that lead to a life with more energy, happiness, and the freedom to eat the foods they truly enjoy. Find a realistic food and exercise approach and remove the uncertainty about what to eat. Get started with some of the free resources on my Confidence in Eating website, especially the Bariatric Success Guide., Emotional Eating Quiz, and Binge Eating Quiz resources. I offer telehealth nutrition programs so you can live your life knowing how to nourish your body, mind, and soul.