Reduce Decision Fatigue: Create a Meal Plan You’ll Stick To

healthy and easy meal prep

Reduce decision fatigue with a meal plan you’ll actually stick to. 

Life is good at punching you in the face. Most people are good at falling off the wagon when this happens. 

One effective nutrition strategy I find helpful is creating a personalized menu.

This menu consists of a variety of options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with 2-3 choices for breakfast, 2-3 choices for lunch, and 2-3 choices for dinner.

I also include 1 “oh shit I forgot to make something, I don’t feel like eating this, or I’m going to be social today meal.”

These meals could be no to low prep, more in-depth, or meals you pick up or order for delivery when in a pinch. It’s up to you, your preferences, and your lifestyle demands.

The idea is to have meals that you enjoy, are familiar with making, and meet your needs. Whether that be weight loss, muscle gain, or maintenance.

Having a menu offers several benefits:

🤷‍♂️ Eliminates guesswork: By inputting the meals into tracking apps like MyFitnessPal, Cronometer, Macrofactor and calculating the calories and protein content, it becomes easier to mix and match the meals to meet daily calorie and protein goals. If tracking macros isn’t your thing you can use your hands for portion sizes.

🛒 Simplifies grocery shopping: A menu streamline trips to the grocery store as you know exactly what ingredients you need.

🤔 Reduces decision fatigue: With a predetermined menu, you make fewer daily food-related decisions, saving mental energy.

I cycle through the meals on my menu for extended periods and introduce new options when boredom sets in. Hell, some of the meals on my menu have been there for years.

My breakfast menu:

Idea 1:

  • Protein: Greek yogurt + protein powder
  • Veggies: None
  • Carbs: Banana
  • Fat: Nuts/seeds

Idea 2:

  • Protein: Protein powder
  • Veggies: None
  • Carbs: Oats
  • Fat: Nuts/seeds

Idea 3:

  • Protein: Eggs. + egg whites
  • Veggies: Frozen bell peppers and onions
  • Carbs: Blackberries
  • Fats: Avocado

Lunch menu:

Idea 1:

  • Protein: Precut rotisserie chicken or ground turkey
  • Veggies: Frozen broccoli
  • Carbs: Fruit or white rice
  • Fat: Olive oil
  • Season to taste with these

Idea 2:

  • Protein: Chicken sausage
  • Veggies: Frozen okra
  • Carbs: Fruit or white rice
  • Fat: Olive oil

Dinner menu:

Idea 1:

  • Protein: Steak
  • Veggies: Frozen veggies
  • Carbs: White rice
  • Fat: Olive oil
  • Season to taste with these

Idea 2:

  • Protein: Chicken thigh
  • Veggies: Frozen veggies
  • Carbs: Sweet potato + cinnamon
  • Fat: Olive oil
  • Season to taste with these

It’s important to note that the specific spices, vegetables, or types of carbs are flexible and can be varied weekly to add more variety. However, if you’re struggling with adherence keeping everything the same for a few weeks can help. The more thinking you have to do the more friction you’re adding.

hand portion estimates

As for portion sizes, a general guideline is to fill half of the plate with vegetables, a quarter with the protein source, and a quarter with a starchy carb. Remember, the specific vegetable or carb choice isn’t crucial. You can personalize it according to your preferences.

While I understand the desire for variety, constantly seeking new options every day can complicate weight loss or muscle-building goals. Creating a menu that includes meals you genuinely enjoy is key. If needed, consult recipe books, focusing on dishes that emphasize the protein component in the title (e.g., “Grilled Chicken Salad” rather than “Spaghetti Carbonara”).

Periodically rotate meals in and out of your menu, especially when they become monotonous.

By following a menu, you’ll find it significantly easier to maintain consistency with your nutrition and achieve your goals.

👊 😁 Emergency meals when life is punching me in the face:

I live next to a Whole Foods. It’s easy for me to walk to or stop in when coming back from appointments. There’s a hot bar there with plenty of healthy options. There’s a Starbucks on every corner where I live and the cheese and fruit protein pack is my jam. They have solid sandwiches there too that I’ll grab.

If I have to grab some fast food I usually opt for some sort of cheese burger and side salad if they have it available. Deep down I want to eat the fries but that’s a tradeoff I am ok with making most of time 😉.

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