Want to create your own high protein meal plan from scratch? I’m going to show you the 5 step process I use every week to plan my meals.
Are you trying to improve your nutrition and lose weight, but you feel like you just don’t have any extra time between work and taking care of your family?
There is one simple 5-step process that I use every single week to make a high protein meal plan for myself, and I do it in under 5 minutes. So, if meal planning is a struggle for you, I’m going to take you through my tried and tested process step-by-step in this article.
But first, a quick intro if this is your first time landing on my page! My name is Andres and I’ve been a registered dietitian for 12 years. I work specifically with career-focused parents who feel like they’re trying to juggle everything. I’m also a father, husband, and entrepreneur — so like you, I have a lot on my plate and I know how easy it is for nutrition to get pushed to the backburner. Now, let’s get into my 5-step strategy to take the stress out of meal planning.
The first step for creating a high protein meal plan is simple: take a minute and think of 2 or 3 general themes for meals.They can be different cuisine from around the world, or you can pick a general idea for a meal that you feel like having — for example, sandwiches, wraps, pasta, or pizza.
To give you some ideas of cuisines you might use for inspiration, here’s a list that I like to choose from:
Of course there are so many options and countries you could add here, but these are just a few that are typically in my rotation of meals. The main goal is to pick something very general. Once you’ve selected your themes, you can go from general to more specific.
Next, for each of the cuisines or general meal ideas you selected, I want you to pick a specific dish that comes to mind. For example, maybe for Mexican you think tacos, for American, it’s burgers, and for Italian, the first thing you think of is spaghetti bolognese.
Are you a fan of ChatGPT? If so, I have an easy way to make the meal planning process even quicker. Open up ChatGPT and put in the following prompt:
“Can you give me a list of 10 [Insert theme] foods that are easy to make at home?”
For example… “Can you give me a list of 10 Mexican foods that are easy to make at home?”
ChatGPT will create a list, with a short description of each meal, so you can choose what sounds good. Once you have two or three specific dishes in mind, grab a pen and paper and move on to Step 3.
To start your meal plan, write down each day of the week and slot the meals you’ve chosen into three different nights. Each time you have one of these meals, you can make extra and have the same thing for lunch the next day. After you have your plan started, you can move on to Step 4, where we get even more specific.
Next, for each of the meals you’ve chosen, decide what your main protein source will be and find the recipes you need. Using the previous examples, maybe you already have a great recipe for spaghetti bolognese that you love. Your protein source could be lean ground beef, and maybe you decide to add some extra protein and fiber by using chickpea pasta.
For tacos, maybe you find a recipe online and it’s for shredded chicken tacos, so chicken breast is your main protein source.
And then for burger night, you might decide that since you’re having ground beef with the bolognese, you want to have turkey burgers that come pre-made at the grocery store. Or, you may also choose to use ground turkey for both recipes for a leaner option.
Once you’ve chosen the main recipes, you have some flexibility based on your lifestyle. Maybe you go out to eat a couple times a week, so you can slot those evenings at restaurants into your plan.
If you’re just cooking from home, you may choose to fill in the rest of the meals with recipes you can make using the same protein sources as the recipes you’ve already chosen. For example, you could buy some extra chicken breast, cook it at the same time that you’re cooking the chicken for your tacos, and use it to make chicken caesar wraps or a chicken sandwich. The goal is to figure out how to repurpose what you buy into more than one meal, and take every cooking opportunity to make extra for other meals throughout the week.
There’s another meal plan structure that I recommend for people who don’t mind eating the same food for multiple days in a row:
When it comes to meal planning and prepping, there isn’t one strategy that’s perfect for everyone. I’m giving you this general 5-step process, but someone who is single and cooking for one will probably have a different process than someone who is also cooking for a partner and kids.
After following steps 1-4, you should have a list of lunches and dinners, each with a protein source, for each day of the week.
Once your plan is ready and you’ve chosen your recipes, you can make your grocery list. To start, look at the recipes you’ve chosen for lunches and dinners and work from there, making sure to buy enough so that you can double the recipes and have leftovers. At this point you can also check to make sure each recipe includes veggies and add extras in (or a side salad) if necessary.
Next, fill in breakfasts and snacks. Many people have similar breakfasts each day, so add any typical breakfast ingredients you need to the list. You may also choose to do what I do, which is make breakfast for the whole week in under 10 minutes on Sunday night. I actually shared this process on TikTok a few months ago and it went completely viral overnight, with over 6 million views. Click here if you want to check it out!
Once you’ve completed your list, the quickest way to get everything you need is to go online to Instacart or any online grocery service and order your groceries. Then, you can pick them up and you’re all set for the week. This may add a few dollars extra with membership and delivery fees, but it will save you hours a month of going grocery shopping, PLUS you’ll get exactly what you need instead of wandering around the grocery aisles making impulse purchases.
The main point I want to emphasize is that you don’t need to overcomplicate the meal planning process. You don’t need to try 20 new recipes each week and make super elaborate meals. I recommend keeping a running list of easy meals you enjoy, so you can go back to it whenever you’re not sure what to eat. And if you struggle to find recipes that are easy, healthy, and taste amazing, I have something special for you!
I just finished putting together a MASSIVE 50-Recipe Cookbook of quick and easy dietitian-approved meals. This will give you tons of ideas for what to cook for you and your family each week (my wife Gb said I was insane for giving this out for free!). If you want to get instant access to the cookbook, all you have to do is click HERE, put in your email, and I’ll send it over to you.
Enjoy the cookbook and I hope the five steps above completely take away the frustration of meal planning!
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