Methodology: Meal Planning

A successful diet is built around foods that you enjoy, that are nourishing and healthy and that fits within your budget.  This applies to everyone from vegans to your average joe just walking down the street enjoying his SAD diet.  One of the tricks behind this experiment is going to be finding that combination for each of the diets that I’m going to be trying out.  I’m going to be employing several tools to do that.

The first, and most important tool, is my trusty FitDay software. FitDay comes in a variety of options: a free website, a paid for website and a downloadable PC software version. I’ve used the website version going back over ten years, and the PC version almost ten years. This software allows me to track all the foods I eat in a given day. From that it builds up what the macro and micro nutrient profiles are for my diet. This will allow me to make sure that each day I’m getting the appropriate level of nutrients and calories and that over longer periods of time I’m not having any sort of deficiencies in my diet. My early daily journal entries experimented with posting these sorts of statistics directly out of that program, so you can see how thorough it is when used correctly.

A second tool I’ll be using is my trusty calorie budget spreadsheet. This isn’t anything novel. It literally is a spreadsheet which allows me to determine a calorie budget over a three month period of time. This allows me to have heavy eating weekends and plan for them. That’s important for months that I have big vacations or holidays. For my regular diet I also tend to like splurging on weekends. This allows me to plan for that appropriately and gain, lose, or maintain weight they way I want to over that period.

The last tool I’m going to have is a meal planner. Whether that’s a manual or automated tool will depend on the diet. Either way I intend to plan out a week’s worth of food on the last day of the previous week. This will allow me to make sure that I have the appropriate variety in my meals while also using the other two tools to make sure I’m getting the appropriate nutrition and keeping my weight in check. Just today grass fed girl on Twitter shared a link to a Paleo website that has a meal planner over at Primal Palate. The meal planner allows you to drag recipes from your recipe box into the meals for a given day and it will then build your grocery list for you. Despite the fact I haven’t figured out how to add recipes of my own, it looks like a good way to plan a Paleo diet each week. I wonder if there are similar tools for mixing and matching things for the other diets on the list.

Using these tools I should be able to study each diet each week and have it match the appropriate macro and micro nutrient levels while still having the appropriate variety.