As a former college athlete, now a Mom raising little athletes, my passion is to help other sports parents and their student athletes avoid some of the mistakes I made especially with nutrition. There are strategies and tools I use now, as a Sports Mom, that make a big difference for my active family.
Meal planning is one of those strategies and if you think about it. I doubt any winning coach, anywhere, in the history of sports went into the game, meet or match without a PLAN. I can see it now….confusion, chaos, lack of focus, poor execution and then disappointment.
That’s the scene that unfolds when a coach doesn’t have a plan. You know where else that scene unfolds? In my kitchen, on the weeks I don’t meal plan! Yep, it’s true. First, comes confusion.
“What’s for dinner, Mom?” my son asks. “There’s nothing to eat.”
Chaos quickly follows as I desperately open and close every cabinet door in the kitchen looking for ingredients to pull together a quick, healthy meal. Then my focus goes and I start reaching for random ingredients. Will blank and blank taste good as a meal?
My execution skills are failing too as I glance at the clock to see if I will even have time to make a meal before we rush back out the door to my son’s practice. Nope. I’m running out of clock. It’s the two-minute warning and well….then disappointment sets in.
“Why do I run other areas of my life so well, but stumble when it comes to consistently feeding my active family?”
Oh, yes! Back to the PLAN. There is magic in the PLAN.
WHY A MEAL PLAN MATTERS?
Just as a game plan is indispensable for a coach to run the team effectively, your meal plan is indispensable for you to run your kitchen well.
So if right now you are asking yourself if a meal plan is really necessary go back and read the opening to this article again. Does that scene ever unfold in your kitchen? If it does, stay with me here and let’s talk more about how to make this meal plan thing happen for you!
I promise, once we lay out the plan, the execution becomes easier. Why? Because we have created something to follow, to be accountable to and to support us! So here are three empowering reasons for busy sports parents to meal plan.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MEAL PLANNING?
The first benefit of a meal plan is YOU HAVE A PLAN. When time is short (which is often the case) you won’t be tempted to hit the Drive-Thru or call out for pizza because you have a plan.
The second benefit of meal planning is that it eliminates the guess-work at meal time. No more desperation around what to feed your active family instead just peace-of-mind that you will be getting a healthy meal on the table night after night after night.
The third and most important benefit is properly fueling your athlete. When you cook at home, from a healthy menu, you are intentionally feeding your athlete the foods they need to stay healthy from the inside out. When they train hard, they break down their body. Your athlete needs fresh, whole foods to recover and repair as much as they need them to build. When you are in control of the meals, preparing and cooking whole foods in your kitchen, you are giving them an edge now and for the future.
Another BIG benefit to meal planning and prepping is that YOU learn a skill and create a habit you can pass along to your athletes. If they see you happy and stress-free in the kitchen they have a positive role-model for cooking on their own when the time comes (and maybe the time is at hand so teaching them these skills right now is important). Get them involved, at whatever age they are, in the meal plan process. Shopping with you, prepping with you, and cooking with you will give them foundational skills for a lifetime of healthy living.
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
Start in your own kitchen and with your family’s preferences. Make a list of the dinners they will eat (and if they choose chicken nuggets and pizza find recipes that are the healthiest version of these). If the list is short, break it down into categories of foods they like (meats, fish, chicken, vegetables, grains and so on).
Next step is to use those recipes you have gathered (or use the categories and find new recipes) and create a weekly menu. If this is your first go at meal planning, I suggest you just plan dinners for the first month to get the hang of it. Starting with your first week get your dinner recipes out and in front of you and make a shopping list for the week.
After you prepare your shopping list, plan what day you will shop and prep for the week (Or shop online and have it delivered. Total time-saving option). I like to shop on Saturday and prep on Sunday, but it will depend on your schedule.
And now it’s time to execute! Prep any foods that can be chopped, sliced, diced or put together in advance to save you time during the week. This is a HUGE benefit of meal prepping and planning. There is such joy in opening the fridge door and seeing a week’s worth of meals ready to just pull out and prepare.
CAN I — USE A MEAL PLANNING SERVICE?
Sure. There are lots of options out there for you to choose from. Just be sure they meet the needs of your family. It doesn’t make sense to choose a Paleo meal plan if your family eats mostly vegetarian.
Here are some options available:
Blue Apron (food delivery option)
Fresh 20 (food delivery option)
Super Healthy Kids (meal planning option)
We all know the famous quote from Benjamin Franklin, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” So, let’s get busy planning those meals today!