Does your busy life get in the way of making healthy choices and taking care of yourself? How many times have you said, “I know I could eat better if only I could find the time to shop and cook for myself?” I know that it often seems that the better choice is more time-consuming (and expensive!) but creating healthy meal plans to lose weight doesn’t have to take hours in the kitchen. With just a little advanced planning, and a few simple tips, eating healthy to lose weight can be quick and affordable.

1. Shop for Your Grocery Staples Online.
Finding the time to get to the grocery store can be difficult. And I recommend specific products that may not be available at your average grocery store. Certain gluten-free products, raw nuts and raw nut butters, organic grass fed meats…they may be easier and cheaper to buy online.

There are plenty of online specialty shops, but even Amazon.com sells a lot of the products that offer healthy eating alternatives. And once you figure out how often you need to “re-stock”, you could even set-up a monthly auto-delivery to help keep your pantry stocked with your basics. Consider having things delivered to your office, so you won’t have to go to the post office to pick up your packages.

2. Buy in Organic Legumes, Nuts and Grains in Bulk.
I’m not talking about joining one of those warehouse stores and buying ridiculous amounts of toilet paper…I mean buying whole grains, raw nuts and legumes in the bulk food section of your natural foods store.

By scooping and bagging the food yourself, you can often save up to 25%  on the same exact products. You can store things in airtight plastic or glass containers. One of the keys of being able to cook at home is having a well-stocked pantry. Nothing is more frustrating or time-consuming than running to the store to buy a single item!

3. Join a CSA.
CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture” and is a cooperative effort of food distribution—a way to link small farmers with their communities. You buy a “share” of the harvest, ensuring you get fresh, local and seasonal produce all year round.

I know that I stress the importance of organic produce, because ingesting all those harmful pesticides and herbicides is so bad for your body. But many small farms practice organic, sustainable growing techniques without being certified organic—an expensive and time-consuming process for a small farm.

With a CSA, you can talk to the people growing your food and ask them what type of pest control they use. A CSA also has the economic advantage of keeping your money in your local community and keeping small farms financially viable. Usually there is a central pick-up spot and once a week, or once every two weeks, you go and pick up your box of goodies!

4. Cook Once, Eat Twice.
One of the secrets to eating healthy is to cook basics in large batches and then add fresh foods when reheating. Cook an entire free-range organic chicken and you’ll have roasted chicken to eat, chicken salad sandwiches on sprouted grain bread for lunch the next day, a salad with sliced chicken on top for an extra punch of protein, and you can make a delicious chicken soup (make your own stock with the carcass – nothing needs to go to waste).

Cooked brown rice can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, so make a large pot of rice while that chicken is roasting and you’ll be able to make quick stir-fries later in the week, or even make a healthy rice pudding, sweetened with raw agave syrup, to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Eating healthy to lose weight is easy if the ingredients are already in your kitchen. Keep your pantry well-stocked with healthy options, and set aside just a few hours once a week to cook. You’ll look better, feel great and start to reach your weight loss goals. Creating healthy meal plans that don’t rely on eating out or frozen, pre-packaged, processed “foods” is the first step on your journey to a healthier you!

Do you need more tips to create healthy meal plans? You can find blogs, recipes, articles, videos and other resources at http://www.thedietsolutionprogram.com/

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