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Your Best Health: Adult Weight Management

The 4 P’s for meal planning

Healthy eating may be easier when you use the 4 P’s:

  • Plan
  • Purchase
  • Prepare
  • Pack

Before you start to read at the 4 Ps, let’s see how you’re doing with your current eating plan.

Something to think about ...

Go to your reflection journal and check off the statements that are true for you. You’ll be asked to answer not often, sometimes, or usually for each question.

  1. Do you plan your meals and snacks at least 1 day ahead?
  2. Do you do the grocery shopping in your household?
  3. If yes, do you use a shopping list?
  4. Do you prepare your meals at home?
  5. When you’re ready to prepare a meal, do you have all the ingredients or foods that you need?
  6. Do you bring meals and snacks prepared at home when you’ll be eating away from home (For example, while travelling or at work or school)?

Each usually answer means you’re doing some meal planning. Each not often answer may be an area for you to consider setting a goal.

Were you surprised by any of your answers?

The 4 P’s of meal planning

Planning​ meals helps you to know what you’ll be eating ahead of time, not just deciding at meal time. Planning meals can save you time, calories, and stress. You can plan to make extra food if you want to cook less often.

Here are some ideas people have shared about what helps them plan:

  • I think about what my week looks like when I write out my meals. For nights I’m going to be really busy, I plan quick meals. One meal I’ve used is scrambled eggs, raw vegetables, and whole grain toast.
  • I am starting my meal planning by writing out what I'll be eating for the next 3 days.
  • I plan to cook extra chicken on Sunday so I can use it in sandwiches or wraps for lunches during the week.

Purchase carefully. This helps you buy food and drinks based on your goals. It helps you to have food in your fridge and cupboards to make healthy meals and snacks.

Here are some ideas people have shared about what helps them purchase carefully.

  • I make a grocery list from my family’s meal plan—I know just what I need to get at the store.
  • Instead of just once a month, I now go grocery shopping once a week. I can get what I need and still get the deals.
  • I find if I set a time, about 2 hours each week for grocery shopping, it works much better.
  • I take the time to read labels and compare products. Reading labels really helps me make better choices to find foods that are high in fibre and low in calories, fat, sugar, and salt.

Prepare means to gather, cut up, and make the foods you need for your meals and snacks.

Here are some ideas people have shared that helped them prepare.

  • I think about how long it takes meat to thaw. That’s why I love to have my meal plan. I can get the meat out of the freezer in time if I know that it might take 2 days for it to thaw in the fridge.
  • We have each family member take part. It’s a great way to spend time together. My older children start part of supper when they get home from school. The younger one helps me set the table.
  • Slow cooker meals are my solution to have a meal ready when I walk in the door. I also use my rice cooker and microwave oven to get the most out of my time.
  • Here is a tip I have to lower calories. I trim off the fat from meat that you can see and skin from poultry before cooking. When it’s cooked I drain off any extra fat. I don’t add extra fats like butter or margarine. I also stay away from creamy sauces.

Pack your meals and snacks so you have healthy choices that you enjoy with you when you’re not at home.

Here are some ideas people have shared that helped them pack.

  • Right after supper, our family packs our lunches for the next day. I find keeping washed and cut-up vegetables and fruit ready for meals and snacks speeds up making lunches.
  • For those busy nights, we pack the cooler with healthy snacks and water to have in the car. This way we can eat well while on the go.
  • Having supplies really helps—different sizes of baggies, containers, and lunch bags make it much easier.
  • I pack my supper when I go to night class — it's really helped me eat out less. It saves money too.​