The food that you have in your kitchen undeniably affects the food choices you make during the week. This is particularly true when we are busy, stressed or not being mindful of our food choices, at these times, we are more inclined to make unhelpful choices that may not be optimal for helping us achieve our goal or getting the most out of our next training session.
Not only does making a shopping list help us to make better food choices throughout the week, but it also
- Saves money
- Saves time
- Reduces food waste
- Helps us to plan and time our meals
- Builds clarity and confidence
- Reduces distraction
- Empowers us
However, it is not just about listing the foods you think you should buy or usually do buy, heading to the shop and buying more things that aren’t on the list than are on it.
In order for a shopping list to be effective, we must be strategic and put some thought into it.
I am going to take you on a shopping trip with me, first stop: Plan it!
Step 1: What’s around the corner?
Identify how many days you are shopping for and what is on during those days. This will allow you to plan what meals you need to prepare during those days and how much food you actually need to buy.
- When will you prepare your meals for these days?
- What days are you working and training?
- Will you need to eat on the go or will you have time to prepare or heat up the food somewhere?
- Will you need to batch prepare any of your meals for these days?
- Will you have time to make breakfast in the mornings?
- Will you need to bring snacks on the go with you?
If you looked back on your nutrition at the end of these days that you are planning for and were not happy with it, what would be the number one reason for this?
- For example I did this similar exercise with a client recently, for anonymity let’s call her Mary. Mary noticed that she was really hungry at 4pm after work and noticed herself picking up a bar of chocolate and an energy drink in the shop for the drive home to satisfy her hunger and give her some energy before getting home to cook dinner for herself and her family. Doing this once or twice may not be a cause for concern but it was becoming a habit for her and she knew she could make a more helpful choice with her nutrition to help her fell better and achieve her fat loss goal, but yet she still reached for the bar and drink at 4pm when her tummy was rumbling and her energy was low.
- When I spoke with Mary at the end of that week, I asked her what she could go back and do differently, she said, she could bring some fruit with her to work to have on the way home and maybe batch cook meals for a few days so that she doesn’t have to cook for her family every evening after work.
Can you relate to this in any way? If so, what can you do to avoid that one reason from coming true for you over the next few days?
Step 2: Do you have a game plan?
Now let’s look at what type of days you are shopping for and what your activity levels will be like on those days. This will help you plan what type of meals you will be preparing so that you can hit your carbohydrate, protein and healthy fat targets and on the right days.
When are you training? Do you have games or competition? When are your rest and recovery days? Do you need to fuel up for competition?
For example, here is my client Rory’s plan from a few weeks ago:
For a week like this, carbohydrate needs will be higher on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Carbohydrate loading will actually start on Thursday afternoon
Therefore let’s look at some high-carb meals for those days:
On Monday, Wednesday and Sunday, carbohydrate requirements will be lower, but nutrition should prioritise recovery and repair, ie. healthy fats and protein. Let’s think of some lower carbohydrate, high protein recipes with some healthy fats in there too:
All of the recipes pictured above are available on our recipe page
Step 3: Getting a step ahead of yourself
Ok now that we have decided on what meals we can make this week, we need to plan for the pinch points of the week. By having a plan in place and foreseeing challenges you are likely to encounter, you are putting yourself in a much better position to remain consistent with your nutrition and other habits that support your goal.
For example, Thursday is always a busy day at work, you know you won’t get out until late and you usually end up not eating enough on Thursdays and notice yourself feeling less fueled for training Thursday evening and less recovered on Fridays. That’s the last thing you want this week with a big game coming up on Saturday.
In order to prepare for that this week, could you prepare an extra portion of dinner and lunch on Wednesday with an extra portion of carbohydrates, so that you are not only recovered but fuelled up and ready for Saturday. With a game on Saturday, your fuelling up should actually start on Thursday.
Step 4: Giving the food a place in your week
We have identified what is coming up this week. You will have four days where your carbohydrate targets are higher, with Friday being the highest because it is the day before your game, and 3 lower carbohydrate days with a focus on good sources of protein and healthy fats to help you recover.
I have given some ideas for recipes above, but now it is your turn to pick out what meals you will have this week.
Key considerations when planning your meals
- How close to exercise will you be consuming the meal. Meals higher in fat and fibre are more suited to rest days or away from exercise.
- The protein source and content of the meal
- Is the meal contributing to your fruit and vegetable intake for the day
You can use the our recipe page to help you, where the filter will take these things into consideration for you. Here is a template you can use also:
Step 5: Putting pen to paper
Now you know what days you are shopping for, what you will be doing on these days and what meals you have this week, you are ready to write your shopping list. Write out the ingredient list for these meals, check your cupboard and fridge to see what you already have.
Tips for writing a shopping list:
Break the list up into different categories based on the shop layout
Ie. fridge items, freezer items, dry foods, fresh fruit and veg
Download a template shopping list here – daveynutrition Shopping List
You can generate a shopping list directly from your own meal plan on our website, and select only the meals you want to shop for and the ingredients you need to buy.
It is important to remember that life will throw things at us, it is inevitable and there may be days that this doesn’t go to plan and your meals change, and you have to improvise. However, by having a plan like this in place and continuously reflecting on what is working for you and what is holding you back you will be in a much better position to make better choices around your nutrition, leaving you feeling better about your nutrition choices, feeling better in yourself, and performing better in everyday life.
How can we help?
Our recipe page not only allows you to filter recipes based on meal type but also your activity type of that day, making it easier for you to pick your meals and meet your nutrition requirements each day.
You can also pick a meal plan based on your specific goal. Each of our meal plans have been developed based on evidence-based information to help you achieve your goal. The meal plans can also be easily adapted to suit your preferences and lifestyle.
This article was written by Heather Masterson.