In Formula 7, one of our basic principles is to include a good balance of carbs, proteins, and fats with each meal and snack. This helps you compile a healthy, satisfying meal without making it overly complicated.
It gets even better, though. There’s another little trick that can help you simplify your meals even more and set yourself up for crazy amounts of success. Are you ready for it?
Here it is…
Stick to the same few meals.
Three is a good number for this. Choose three healthy breakfasts, three lunches, and three dinners that you love—that you could easily eat again and again. And stick to just those meals. Don’t stress about preparing or planning for anything else.
This is one of the best methods you can use for your health because success is all about simplifying down—way down!
The concept of eating the same few meals is one of Tim Ferriss’s biggest tips in his 4-Hour Body program. No matter what the ultimate goal is, all successful dieters have one thing in common: they stick to the same few meals and eat them over and over again.
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Here’s why this works:
1. Decisions are easier when they’re simple.
Being healthy doesn’t have to mean a huge persity of ingredients or beautifully-prepared meals. You aren’t required to spend hours in the kitchen preparing complicated dishes that are different every day. In fact, that’s unrealistic for the average person and it can quickly lead to overwhelm—especially in someone who’s just starting to eat healthier.
The key is developing new habits that are low effort and easy to implement. It’s also about reducing any feelings of confusion or temptations to quit. Obviously, this greatly increases your chances of success!
2. It feels more natural and effortless.
Getting in a routine with your meals makes sense because humans are creatures of habit. When you simplify things, you don’t suffer from decision fatigue.
For example, it’s simple to choose what you’re having for breakfast when there are only a few options. And most of us are pretty busy around lunchtime, so who wants to spend mental energy calculating the most nutritious lunch? Plus, when you get home from your busy day and are ready to eat dinner, there’s no need to spend time planning or preparing a new meal if you already have the ingredients ready.
If you’ve already decided ahead of time on your options, it’s a no-brainer when it comes time to eat and hunger is calling your name.
3. Your healthy meals will be super simple to plan.
As Ferriss says, “There are 47,000 products in the average U.S. grocery store, but only a handful of them won’t make you fat.” If you’re eating the same whole, unprocessed, nutritious foods again and again, you’re doing better than 99.9% of the people who step into the grocery store—or succumb to the drive through because they don’t know where to start with nutritious meals.
Bottom line: healthy dishes balanced in carbs, proteins, and fats that you enjoy are doing your body good and helping you easily meet your health goals, so who cares if they’re repetitive?
4. You won’t stress about food.
When you don’t have to worry about what you’re going to eat for the next day or the next meal, there’s no panic about getting enough nutrients or getting caught without a healthy option.
Stress causes most people to crave comfort food, and we have enough stress to deal with in life. Why make it harder by complicating meal choices?
Imagine this: Without a structure to your meals, you might end up munching on a bag of chips or mindlessly eating a few cookies (or more) while trying to decide what to have for dinner. Then, you’ll be upset that you’re then not feeling hungry enough for the healthy meal you eventually decide on.
When you eat the same meals over and over, the scenario changes to this: You get home for the evening and already know what you’re having, and it’s simple to make—and you have all of the ingredients ready to go because they were on your usual shopping list! You instantly remove that extra worry about what to eat day-in and day-out.
Choosing Your Meals
If you’re feeling stumped about what meals you want to eat again and again, here’s a great way to construct them:
Make a few lists. Write down the words “Carbs,” “Proteins,” and “Fats” on a sheet of paper and list around 4-7 options for each. Think about foods in these categories that you enjoy and find yourself naturally gravitating towards.
For example, for carbs you could list:
- Brown rice
- Whole grain bread
- Sweet potatoes
For proteins, you could list:
- Egg whites
- Black beans
For fats, you could list:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Peanut butter
Lastly, make one more list each for fruits and vegetables (because we can’t forget the “get 5-9 servings of veggies and fruits per day” principle either!). You have lots of options here, but for the sake of simplicity and reducing overwhelm, keep these lists to 4-7 items too.
Fruits could include:
- Berries (fresh or frozen)
Veggies could include:
- Bell peppers
- Sweet potatoes
Once you have your simple lists, just mix and match by choosing one food from each list to make up the basis of a meal. Write down your combination and categorize it as breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Do this until you have three breakfast options, three lunch options, and three dinners.
- For example, you could create a breakfast with: eggs, black beans, and spinach and onions cooked in some extra virgin olive olive with a side of sliced banana and peaches.
- A lunch could be: a tuna sandwich on whole grain bread with spinach and guacamole and a side of carrots sticks and an apple.
- A dinner could be: a stir-fry with chicken and veggies (like bell peppers and broccoli) on a bed of brown rice topped with some peanut sauce.
After you have your meals, you can add on any sauces or toppings if you need to. But this basis will give you simple meals to turn to as you navigate through your busy week. You can plan to buy the ingredients for them each week without having to overthink your grocery list.
Don’t feel like you have to stick to our example lists or meals, either! The beauty of this method is that you get to choose the healthy foods you love the most—and enjoy them frequently.
Before you know it, you’ll be a healthy meal-creating machine, feeling great, burning fat naturally, and not being overly worried about food during the week. You can live your life feeling good about what you’re eating without all the stress of meal planning, complicated recipes with long grocery lists, or making decisions around willpower.
This is also important to note: Make sure these are foods that you actually enjoy! You want these meals to be simple and delicious so you’re excited to continue eating them over and over. That’s the true way you’ll see success with your health or weight loss goals while feeling great.
Plus, you might find some new meal combinations you hadn’t considered or tried before. It’s amazing what you can come up with, even using the simplest of ingredients.
Here are some more tips to keep in mind when planning your meals:
Eat frequently. When you switch to eating more nutritious, nutrient-dense foods, it’s common to need to eat more to feel satisfied and get enough calories. This might mean eating more often throughout the day or splitting your food into several meals.
Use your hand as measurement. While you don’t need to get too caught up in the details as far as amount, if you need a good guideline for portion size, use this:
- Carbs around the size of your fist
- Proteins around the size of your palm
- Nuts around the size of your thumb
Do green smoothies for breakfast. Smoothies are a fantastic way to get in a good balance of macronutrients as well as your 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies per day for tons of micronutrients. Our Ultimate Green Smoothie recipe is a great example of this!
Pre-cut and pre-wash. You can either do this yourself or, if you’re willing to spend a little extra for the convenience, buy things already pre-prepared (such as spinach that’s already bagged and washed or pre-chopped veggies). This can help you grab and go during the week. You’ll already know what you’re eating, so this extra step will just supercharge your health efficiency!
Buy frozen. The cool thing about sticking to the same three breakfasts, lunches, and dinners is that you can buy bulk in what you need ahead of time.
This is especially useful for if you have a busy week ahead or have a trip planned. It also means that you can confidently buy frozen versions of the foods you’ll be eating—such as veggies, meats, or grains. Of course, fresh is great too—but the frozen versions are wonderful for times when you need to stock up.
Batch cook your meals. If you really want to eliminate extra work as much as possible, you can cook your meals ahead of time, such as at the beginning of the week. Store them in single-serving containers in your fridge so it’s easy to grab, reheat (if needed), and eat before or after work.
And lastly, go easy on yourself. There might seem like a lot of information here, but the main point is this: choose a few healthy, easy meals you like and let yourself eat them over and over again. Don’t stress. We know you’ll love it!