Meal Planning Made Easy
Have you planned your meals for the week?
Let me guess, you're so busy, and the thought of having to plan your meals in advance is just one more task to add to your long list of things to do. I know, during the week you're probably super busy that eating out most days of the week is a convenient option. I get it! However, with a little planning, you'll see that you will feel less stressed, eat healthier, plus save some money!
What are the benefits of meal planning? It’s preparing your meals (and snacks) on 1 day for the entire week.
Saves you time from cooking during the work week.
Keeps you on track with your goals such as weight loss.
Takes the stress of “What’s for dinner tonight?” or “I’m too tired to cook.”
Helps you “plan, prepare & pack” in advance to prevent skipping meals or making unhealthy food choices.
Not sure where to begin? Here are 3 helpful tips:
1. Get Organized.
Okay, honestly – I was resistant to meal planning at first because I thought it was time-consuming. But, when I did a gradual change I realized it wasn’t so bad after all. I started focusing on one meal three days out of the week. With practice and consistency, meal planning became so much easier to help me stay on track.
Start out with planning 2 lunches or dinners for the week. Decide if you like to plan on a Saturday then go grocery shopping and prepare meals on Sunday. Planning and preparing in advance will make a difference! You will feel less stressed knowing you're ready for the week to enjoy healthy meals that keep you on track with your goals.
TIP: If you need inspiration, there are meal planning websites that can make getting organized much easier. You can either do a weekly, pre-formatted one like eMeals.com or TheFresh20.com or a free site like epicurious.com for ideas.
2. Prepare Separate Items.
Instead of creating complete dishes, consider batch cooking. For example, on Sunday prepare a few different vegetables side dishes, proteins, and grains (gluten-free if needed), and then mix and match for meals during the week. For example, I like to create lunch bowls such as brown rice or spaghetti squash topped with mixed vegetables and grilled chicken.
3. Cook Once, Enjoy Twice.
While menu planning saves time because you know "what's for dinner," it also saves money since eating out a few days a week is expensive than preparing meals at home. For example, you can save money by cooking double what you would usually prepare for dinner, so you have leftovers for lunch and/or another dinner. Here are a few examples:
Cut fresh vegetables the night before and put in the fridge. Don't have time to cut fresh vegetables, try frozen veggies instead which can be a great option for some crock pot meals or soups.
Cook grains such as brown rice or quinoa, then place in the refrigerator to use later for lunch or dinner.
Freeze leftovers for a healthy frozen dinner for the following week.
Overall, meal planning will help you feel less stressed while you enjoy more nutritious, home-cooked meals that support your goals.
BONUS: Try meal planning for this coming week. Look at one evening you will be cooking at home and when you have time to prepare dinner. Here’s a few steps to get you started:
□ Choose a new healthy recipe you want to try.
□ Write or print the list of the ingredients for your grocery list. Remember to double the ingredients to “Cook once. Enjoy twice”.
□ Choose the day you’ll go grocery shopping.
□ Cook double what you would make for dinner.
□ Pack leftovers for lunch the next day.