When it comes to food, our feelings can be a little deceiving. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between hunger and thirst. Other times, we wonder if what we’re feeling is hunger or just a craving. It’s tricky.

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or gain weight, meal planning is a smart habit to form. We know how difficult it can be to make healthy choices when there are loads of other things to think about. But really, your health should be top priority and if you plan ahead, you can prepare yourself for those times you may be too distracted to choose the right nourishment.

Here are some of our best tips for weekly meal planning.

Document It

Use your phone, laptop, or a good old-fashioned pen and paper to map out your schedule for the upcoming week. Are you going straight to Bootique Fitness Yoga after work? Then you’ll want to pack a little extra food that day. Do you go home for lunch on certain days? Then you’ll have full access to your pantry and fridge. Different situations call for different preparations.

It helps to mark down the times of day that you prefer as meal times and then consider what you will be doing at that time. Then, you can base your meal plan on what will be most convenient for you to bring, store, or prepare at that time.

Food Prep

Do yourself a favor and make your meal plan a breeze by preparing large batches of healthy food in advance. It will take some trial and error at first to see which of your favorite meals stay the freshest throughout the week and are most portable (if taking on the go). For inspiration, check out this list of foods you can cook ahead and how to prepare them.

Listen to Your Body

This tip might throw you for a loop but no matter how prepared you are, the best thing you can do is to listen to your body. If you packed a salad for your afternoon snack but find yourself craving chocolate, then a piece of fruit might be a better option to stave off that sugar craving. It’s always helpful to translate your cravings into what your body really wants. When you find yourself craving a certain food, your body is trying to tell you it’s craving certain nutrients (but not necessarily the food you think you’re craving).

Check out this chart to see what some of the most common food cravings translate to: Food Craving Chart. Try picking a few unhealthy foods that you find yourself craving often and then plan to have their nutritious counterparts with you for when the craving sets in. The best meal plan includes meal alternatives. Stock up on a variety of healthy snacks in case Plan A fails.