For almost 20 years I’ve been talking about weight loss and the essential meal plan. I honestly didn’t even know I was talking about meal plans initially. I thought it was a combination of bad pick-up lines and free advice.

Typically it was at the library, grocery store or yes drinking establishments. Once I’d open my big mouth that I was either studying to be a dietitian or I WAS a dietitian the conversation went something like this:

“So I want to lose weight and build muscle! I love chicken wings but I probably shouldn’t have them right? Tell me what to eat.”

Mind you, I’m from Buffalo so the chicken wing was the steady answer to “this is what I eat”. Actually I never really asked anyone what they eat. They’d freely just offered it up.

Then they stood there, blankly looking at me. Waiting for my response.

In my naïve days, I’d list out a whole week’s worth of ideas. I’d even ask them for their height and weight so I could draw up specific calorie driven meal plans necessary for them to lose weight. I’d spend hours doing this. Customizing each day.

And then like a puppy meeting their master, I’d get all excited to show them the master piece I created. The plan that would catapult their weight loss journey.

But rarely was I met with equal enthusiasm. Instead it was reason upon reason, excuse after excuse why it wouldn’t work. Or perhaps there was a food they forgot to tell me they didn’t like. You know because the last time they had it, they were in the 5th grade.

So I stopped making meal plans.

Actually I didn’t stop. I just stopped for the ones that said they wanted to lose weight (but really didn’t want to). The dreamers. The time stealers. My time that is.

Now when someone asks me to “tell me what to eat”, I either ask them to give me a 3-7 day food journal or I direct them to one of my weight loss packages.

That weans out a whole bunch.

But here’s the thing about meal plans. They work for weight loss. They’re an integral part of weight loss. The whole “fail to plan, plan to fail” scenario.

But they’re not just good for weight loss. They’re great for a mental escape.

I came to this realization the other day when I was determined to get back on track of upping my family’s healthy quotient and get out of the same 5 foods I felt like I was making and we were eating.

Let’s face it, not to get all “parent bloggy” but there’s usually one parent that is the keeper of all the family’s schedule and where abouts. And I’m not just talking soccer practice at 6pm Tuesdays and Thursdays. I’m talking homework schedules and continually missed spelling words that need more attention, dentist appointments, what’s everyone wearing to school on Super Hero Day and wear Red day and sneakers packed for gym class on Thursday day, and is everything laundered and where’s Kate’s special lovey, and Leah’s pacifier and did we remember to add nutrients to the Aerogarden and water the regular plants that we have. And lightbulbs. We need more lightbulbs, but the special kind. Oh and kid toothpaste for the downstairs bathroom.

Needless to say, I’m that parent.

As my dad put it perfectly “Google can’t replace you honey. You know all the answers.”

Thanks dad.

But with all that internal Google parent file filling our head the dreaded daily question we all still get is “what’s for dinner?”

And let’s face it, if we hadn’t thought about dinner before 5, without a plan it seems to come up quick and knock us off our feet like we’ve never heard it before. Never saw it coming. Despite its monotony.

And when this happens, bad choices sneak in. Frozen pizza, hibachi take-out (oh but soo good I know) or worse, especially if there’s chauffeuring involved… fast food.

Or we pat ourselves on the back with a quick stop at the local grocer for a rotisserie chicken, 5 minute stuffing, a can of corn and limp salad from a bag. Voila! Dinner in minutes. And homemade….kinda.

I’m not saying those days are bad. They can be saviors. What I am saying is that meals like that, day after day, week after week don’t promote weight loss. And they certainly don’t promote health. But they love puffing up your ankles by the end of the day. This I know.

In the next several weeks I’m going to share with you my ultimate meal planning template and what each week’s worth of dinner meals looks like. I’ll post recipes I love and how I’ve adapted them to fit my still meat free lifestyle.

Make sure if you haven’t done so yet to like my Facebook page here. However, it’s more important to sign up to get Misfit Nutrition emails. Facebook has a weird way of hiding the good stuff from you and just showing you random cat videos.

I can’t wait to share my master plan next week “Smithers”. (Said in my best Mr. Burns voice. Sorry I love a good Simpson’s reference.)

Don’t forget to sign up with your email address. Here’s a quick link to my contact page here. There’s even a message section where you can let me know what your favorite meal is.. wink, wink.This is going to be good!

Misfit Hugs,