Ok, I realise this is a bit of a sweeping 'miracle-cure' statement but meal planning really can help you lose weight. And I'm not talking about calorie-counting, or cabbage soup or any of those horrendous 'meal replacement shake' diets. Nor am I promising that you'll drop a dress size in 3 days, be bikini-ready in a week, or back to your pre-wedding weight in a fortnight. I'm not silly enough to make those kinds of claims (and nor should you be silly enough to fall for them).
This is about good, old-fashioned sensible eating and a little bit of advanced planning.
It's really simple, and I'm going to show you how I do it. For breakfast, I suggest you stick to low sugar, high protein options such as:
Sit down on a Saturday or a Sunday with your blank planner and your diary.
In the 'What's On' column on the right, write down all your plans for the week: kids' activities, nights out, playdates, lunch dates, hubby working late etc.
This allows you to plan in meals to fit around your schedule. You might need a quick supper if you know you'll be late home one evening, or no supper at all if you'll be out.
Have a think about what you already have in your fridge and cupboards from last week that can go towards next week's meals. Having a well-stocked store cupboard and some frozen essentials comes in really handy here.
The idea is that you should only need to top up your shop with fresh ingredients (fruit, veg and meat/fish) every week, and replace your store-cupboard essentials less frequently.
Getting something like an organic vegetable box delivered every week can help with planning meals around some of these ingredients. One less thing to think about!
Plan your meals in. Try to plan a variety of different vegetables, plant and animal protein throughout the week to ensure you're getting a good balance of vitamins and minerals. So I might go for two fish dishes, a chicken dish, one or two meat dishes and a vegetarian meal. Although as I am avoiding grains and legumes due my thyroid condition I tend to eat more meat and veg-based dishes at the moment.
You can build up a repertoire of recipes from various places and keep them folder - have a look on blogs, (like this one!), websites like BBC Food, or supplements like the Observer Food Monthly. Waitrose's free monthly magazine usually has some lovely recipes too. Some weeks, I'll pick up one of my cookbooks and decide to cook all my meals out of this. It's a great way of learning new recipes and building up your skills. And actually using a cookbook!
Make your shopping list based on the meals in the planner and aim to do your shopping online.
I'm a big fan of using leftovers for lunch the next day, or building a new meal out of some reheated ingredients of the previous day's dinner. I have included some tips on how to do this in my 5 day lunch and dinner meal plan which you can access by the clicking the link below.
I don't like to spend hours in the kitchen any more than the next person, but at the end of a long day, I want to nourish my body with some good food. I hope I can inspire you to get meal planning, get organised, take the stress out of deciding what to eat and, in the long-term, help you to lose weight!