Healthy shouldn’t be hard. It may seem to a hungry mind that some of the most delicious foods are full of sugar, carbs, and fats. Fast-food chains with easy access can make it tough to be a conscious consumer of mindful, healthy meals. Here’s how to use our online Calendar for meal planning.

Watching what you eat is key to living a healthy lifestyle. That’s why many diet and nutrition specialists suggest meal planning. Scheduling your snacks and meals is an excellent way to ensure you eat only what fits in your diet plan.

The keyword? Plan. Unless you schedule out what you’ll eat when you’re going to struggle with meal planning. To help you make the switch to a healthier lifestyle, use an online calendar to map out your meals.

Making Your Meal Calendar

An online calendar is an ideal tool for planning meals: Here’s how to use it well:

Create a Schedule

A meal plan requires you to think through your future eating habits. In an online calendar, plot out your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Use color-coding to separate them from the other activities and reminders you log in to your calendar.

Decide on a day each week to meal plan, but don’t be afraid to update it as you go. If your colleague brings you a dozen farm-fresh eggs one day, don’t let them go to waste: Update your schedule.

The ability to quickly update your calendar is a crucial advantage of an online calendar: You can access your calendar on your phone, letting you adjust your plans no matter where you are at the moment. Your easy digital access to your calendar is also helpful when you come across a new recipe you want to add to your list before you forget.

1. Add Reminders to Promote Accountability

Once you’ve committed to meal planning, you need to stick to it. The benefits of meal planning are long-term, meaning they require perseverance. Use your online calendar to remind you to track your progress.

For example, you can create an event in your calendar to mark down your daily calorie count or plan your next week’s meals. Set these events to repeat daily or weekly. Build a routine that helps you keep moving forward.

Another way to keep yourself accountable is to share your meal plan with someone else — ideally, a significant other that enjoys your cooking. Online calendars are easy to share and can be viewed simultaneously by multiple people. You can even set a reminder to notify your partner of the night’s meal as they leave work, giving them the chance to stop by the store for a missing ingredient.

2. Link Recipes

When you begin meal planning, you’ll have to do a lot of experimenting. Until you get your favorites down pat, you’ll want to follow recipes.

Memorizing recipes can be tough, especially when you’re trying to learn many of them at once. With an online calendar, there’s no need to commit them to memory.

When you add a recipe to your calendar, link to it in the “Notes” section. You probably prefer to find recipes on social media than in cookbooks nowadays, and your calendar is a great place to store them until it’s time to cook.

Through trial and error, you’ll likely find several new recipes that you consider you “real winners.” If you want to attempt a great recipe again, drag and drop associated events (shopping, ingreds) to a later date. Once you build up a bank of favorite recipes, ingredients, where to shop for specialty items, etc., meal planning is as easy as reselecting old ones.

3. Keep Track

While meal planning means preparing for the future, learning from your past meal schedule is just as helpful. As you go through your week cooking and eating, there will be things that you want to remember — some good things and some planning that didn’t work out so well for you.

All of your cooking information can be stored in the above-mentioned “Notes” section of your online calendar. The Calendar search function is also a helpful feature to use when you need to check-on stored information. Use your search functionalities to:

  • Get Plenty of Variety

Can’t remember the last time you had chicken parmesan for dinner? Just check your past online calendar events. They’ll tell you the last time you prepared a meal, helping you decide if it’s too soon to repeat. Variety is important for proper nutrition, not to mention keeping you satisfied with your diet plan.

  • Suggest Recipe Tweaks

It’s tough to get a new recipe right on the first try. There will be some things you might want to remember for next time, which can be easily recorded in your online calendar. Recording in your Calendar needs to become second nature (a habit!) for you so that you don’t waste time. Your Calendar information can then become your at-ready-reference tool — so you don’t add too much salt during take-two trial.

  • Rate Your Meals

What if you didn’t like a certain meal? Remind “future you” in the notes section of a calendar event to avoid making that meal a second time. You could develop a fun rating system for your own meals that the whole family can take part in. A meal that earned 1-star reviews from all five family members probably isn’t going to make the cut.

4. Plan When to Eat Out

If you like to eat out, know this: It shouldn’t be part of your meal plan every day, but it’s okay to reward yourself on occasion by eating out.

While home cooking is often healthier and more cost-effective, it can be arduous. Your time is valuable. Using your online calendar to schedule meals out (or in, if you prefer takeout) can mix things up and insert some food fun into your week.

Eating out can prevent burnout — sometimes — but it’s a slippery slope. When scheduling your meals, pick a couple of days each month when you would like to eat meals out of the home. Also, think about preparing meals and hitting a park or some other place to eat. In this way, you are still eating well (less fat, less sugar), but you are getting out. Hey, take your dog to the dog park and eat lunch there. (Professional Hint: take dog treats, or your dog will eat your lunch for you.)

Remember, sometimes you just want to “emotionally” eat out.  By incorporating periodic eat-out-splurges into your schedule, you can look forward to a calm dining experience, instead of a mad-rush toward the nearest fast food joint on a whim.

Don’t let meal planning scare you. Online calendars can help you live a healthier, more organized life. Stick to your planned schedule, and you’ll save money, maintain a healthy weight, and learn a new skill. Go ahead: Grab your computer and get going on a delicious new adventure.