Set yourself up for success and healthy eating by mastering meal planning. The post will give you a few tips to get started.
Benefits of meal planning:
- Save money: it’s easier to stick to a budget when grocery shopping vs. eating out at restaurants.
- Eat healthier: you know all the ingredients in each meal.
- It’s an opportunity to get creative in the kitchen and build up your cooking confidence!
- It saves you time throughout the week.
How to meal plan like a pro:
Define what success looks like for you. Is it cooking two meals at home per week, saving $100 a month, eating more plant-based foods? It could be anything but take the time to define your version of success. It’s important to know your wins so you can celebrate once you achieve them.
Create a meal plan. Download this handy template. This is how I get started:
Start with your schedule. For example, slot in the family dinner on Tuesday, your friends birthday celebration on Saturday, and the catered work lunch on Friday.
Know your limits. In my home, we don’t often cook after 8pm. On Tuesday my husband and I attend yoga from 7-8pm so I know on Tuesday’s we’re likely grabbing sushi on the way home. Define your limits and fill these in on your meal plan.
Leave a day or two open. Life happens and it’s nice to have a flexible meal plan to accommodate this rather than waste food. For example, I leave most Friday’s open as typically a social dinner comes up last minute. If it stays open then this is an opportunity for a date night or a chance to try a new recipe.
Use multi-meal foods. I will almost always cook a larger dinner so that I have leftovers for lunch the next day. Wednesday’s dinner becomes Thursday’s lunch and so on.
Fill in the remaining blank spots with what you love to eat and/or recipes you want to try. Stuck? Grab a cookbook!
Create a shopping list. This part’s super easy. Just work backward from your meal plan. Tip: start small. There’s nothing worse than being gung-ho on meal planning and then composting a bunch of food at the end of the week because it didn’t go as planned. You can always buy more.
Schedule prep time. This is the #1 most important thing to set yourself up for success in meal planning! The best part… it doesn’t have to take all day. First off decide what’s most important to you. Are you rushed in the morning and need breakfast and lunch ready to grab quickly? Or are you exhausted after work and need easy to prepare dinners? Once you determine what’s most important to you, prioritize your preparation around it. Want easier mornings? Focus on preparing quick breakfasts like smoothie bags, chia pudding, and muffins. Need quick lunches? Chop veggies and make a quinoa base for easy to assemble buddha bowls. Exhausted after work? Prep whole meals in advance or pre-chop ingredients for quick dinners.