Virtually everyone loves the idea of eating better; it just makes sense for so many reasons. Knowing what to prepare and how to do it is one challenge, but it’s not the biggest. It’s sustaining the strategy that you have started that’s the real kicker, and we’re here with some suggestions that are sure to help.

Articulate Your Goals

“Healthy” eating means different things to different people. It’s crucial that you arrive at a concrete idea of what goals you want to achieve with your meal plan. Do you want to decrease sugar, reduce or eliminate your meat intake, eat vegan or Paleo or go gluten-free? Perhaps you just need to find a way to save time and organize your busy life more effectively. Whatever your drive might be, putting it into words is your first step.

Make Friends With Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets aren’t just documents you use at work. They can become an invaluable ally as you work to map out your meal strategy. Use Excel or Google Sheets to clarify what you are going to eat for each meal on every day of the week. You can even break it down into groups such as carbs, produce and protein. Print your masterpiece out at the beginning of each week, stick it to your fridge, and you’re well on your way to 21 breakfasts, lunches and dinners that you will actually eat.

Build in Time for Spontaneity

Perhaps the biggest healthy meal-killer is failing to give yourself a break. If you are too rigid and demanding, depriving yourself of going on outings with friends all for the sake of your spreadsheet, you are doomed to fail sooner or later. It’s far better to assume that there will be a meal or two when you will go off the grid, so to speak. Of course, you can keep food set aside in the event that your plans fall through, but you can still make yourself open and available for fun and variety.

Plan Your Meals

This is where the fun part really comes in. You get a chance to write down all of the ingredients you will need for the week. Sure, the task seems daunting at the outset, but it’s a great way to get your grocery list written quickly. Better still, this task gets easier with each week that you accomplish it. It also helps you to know ahead of time how much of each item you need to buy. For instance, if several meals contain broccoli, you will know in advance that you will need several heads and can buy accordingly.

If you’re a novice cook and just aren’t sure how to be organized about a meal regimen, investing in a boxed meal subscription might be just the right solution for you. These custom-made boxes come with all of the pre-portioned ingredients you will need to prepare what usually amounts to three meals a week, each consisting of two adult servings. When you subscribe to a Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, Plated box or one of the many other meal kits, you will be able to predetermine what types of dinners you want to have sent to you. This could really enhance whatever food goals you’re working on, giving you exposure to cooking tips and ingredients you may have never worked with before. No matter how you slice it, a meal kit subscription can be an excellent supplement to your new eating plan.

Pick a Meal Preparation Day

Kits such as Plated box meals can be prepared in just a few minutes since all of the ingredients and recipes are already arranged for you. However, your other weekly entrees might require more forethought. Decide on a day when you will do your food shopping and preparation. You can, of course, opt to make this a two-day process if that fits better into your schedule. Then make a commitment to devoting the time and attention these projects require. The first few weeks might be challenging in terms of motivation, but you will eventually develop shopping and meal preparation habits and will actually find the jobs to be enjoyable and satisfying.

We live in an age that is fast-paced and filled with commitments that often war with each other for our time and attention. Unfortunately, our meals are often very low on our priority lists. By taking these planning steps, you can restore your breakfasts, lunches, dinners and even snacks to the position of importance that they deserve in your busy life.