That seems to be the theme in my life right now.
How can you simplify your life? What can you get rid of? What do you need? What can you do differently? How can you add a little more flow to your day?
When you ask these questions, meal planning might not be something that comes to the top of your mind. In fact, you might think meal planning will be "just another thing" to add to your plate. You might even feel overwhelmed or annoyed with the thought of it. You don't need to take more time out of your week to think about what you are going to eat, that's for future you to deal with, right?
Taking a little bit of time at the beginning of the week to plan ahead will actually take the stress and pressure off of "future you" each and every day. Meal planning not only gives you your time back during the week but it also gives you the comfort in knowing you are eating more nutritious foods (usually). It also saves you from buying random junk from the store (or vending machine), keeps you from going too long in between meals or snacks, prevents you from wasting food, helps you control your portions and saves you money.
While you might be surprised at the saving money benefit of meal planning, it's true! Do you normally grab your breakfast, lunch, dinner and/or snacks out from a fast food or sit-down restaurant or even a vending machine? Have you ever actually taken the time to add up how much money you are spending each week on the food and drinks you buy? It quickly adds up. You can normally feed yourself healthy food from the grocery store for much cheaper.
So how can you keep your life simple AND meal prep for the week?
1. Plan: Look ahead at the upcoming week and see what work, workouts, occasions, events, etc. you need to plan around. What days would leftovers or grab-and-go foods be a better option? Use this plan as the tool for how you will pick the types of food you need and want and the time you can spend on them.
2. Find: Look for recipes based on your needs or just stick with your old favorites for now. Once you get going and make this more of a routine, you can start trying new recipes. You can also use Prepear to search for recipes on your own or buy my virtual cookbook and get 6 weeks of recipes to follow to start with. Look around your pantry and fridge and see what you have on hand and can use for the upcoming week so you don't have any food waste. If you want to save a step and not actually pick specific recipes for each day, check out Healthy Kitchen Staples so you can throw meals together at any time.
3. Create: Make a list of what Monday-Sunday will look like with the recipes you chose. Remember to utilize leftovers on the days you know you will be busy. Consider doubling or tripling recipes so you don't have to cook every day. Write it down on a piece of paper, on the calendar or in your phone. You can store your recipes and create meal plans in Prepear for free. You will now know what you are going to eat for every meal and snack for the week.
4. Shop: Create a grocery list based off of your recipes. Don't forget to include the amounts you need if you are doubling or tripling your recipes. If you made your plan in Prepear or purchased my cookbook, it will automatically generate a grocery list for you, making it even easier. Even better, you can order your groceries if you don't have the time to shop! Pre-made, pre-portioned, pre-cooked foods can always be another option for when you are short on time (just check the ingredients so you know what you are eating). You can even order some items from Amazon like my favorite gluten-free and dairy-free items!
5. Prepare: Once you get all of your groceries you can separate and prepare some of your snack items so you can easily grab them and bring them with you when you need them. Cook some of the meat ahead of time and freeze or refrigerate it so it will be ready to go once it's time for that meal. If you know you won't have much time during the week, try to prepare veggies and grains ahead of time too, when possible.
Don't stress out. Yes, you can meal prep with food that isn't as "nutritious" as others. You have to start somewhere. Start by choosing the foods you feel comfortable making and work your way up from there. If you aren't quite sure what is "healthy" start by picking a lean protein and pair it with fruit, veggies, a complex carb and a healthy fat. Ex. baked chicken breast slices on a whole-grain wrap with a cucumber, tomato and onion relish and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top with strawberries on the side OR a whole-grain sandwich with nitrate-free/low-sodium lunch meat or tuna and bell pepper slices served with hummus and an orange on the side.
You can do this! If you need a little kick start for easy, healthy recipe ideas, purchase my 6 week Balanced Eating + Workout Plan on Prepear or contact me for personalized help.
For more information, check out the following:
Meal Plan Troubleshooting
Planning Ahead for a Healthy Week
Healthy Kitchen Staples
How to Become a Better Cook
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I am a food loving, activity seeking health coach who resides in Franklin, TN with my husband and two sweet dogs (Lola & Penny).
I believe everyone should eat balanced and not cut food groups if you don't medically need to. All foods can fit in a healthy diet. Unfortunately, I have to avoid gluten and also limit myself with dairy, so my goal is to provide healthy, gluten-free/dairy-free recipes so EVERYONE can enjoy all foods, even if you do have to cut out certain food groups. My recipes are encouraged for everyone to eat, not just for those with sensitivities/allergies! Most of my recipes can be easily converted by using real dairy and whole-wheat in place of my allergy-free substitutes.
Looking for something specific? Everything can be found by category under the "Life" and "Recipes" sections on my website or you can search below.