Meal planning is not a diet. It is not something only a professional can do. You can do this for yourself and your family. Meal planning is just the act of planning your meals in advance to save time, money, and stay on track to reach your health goals. The recipes don’t have to be elaborate, in fact, it is usually better when they’re not. You can also repeat meals, like I do with my Easy sheet pan recipe! In short, planning your week will decrease stress and eliminate opting for an unhealthy fast food.
Pick theme nights
Themed nights make for quick decision making. Each week you search for recipes you already have an idea of what to pick for that night. Some examples are: “Meatless Monday”, “Taco Tuesday”, “Crock pot night”, “Thursty Thursday” (AKA soup night) “Salad Saturday”
Keep it simple
Keep it simple so you are more likely to stick to it. I have about 3 options for breakfast year round… Shakes, eggs, or oatmeal. Lunches are normally salads or leftovers. Snacks are usually hard boiled eggs, apples and almond butter, veggies and hummus, or tomatoes and avocados.
Create a space to save your recipes, Pinterest works well. Create a board for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and crockpot meals. This will become your go-to for quick meal planning. Each week of planning will continue to get faster and faster with the more recipes you build on these boards. Plus, you can easily delete the recipes that aren’t a family favorite.
Write it down
Writing out your meals for the week makes a concrete plan that is easily accessible. Keep this on display. Use a calendar, a chalkboard, a planner, or a free printable weekly meal planner.
Online grocery shop
Ordering groceries online helps you get each item you need without forgetting the main ingredient… Not that I have ever done that… AND it keeps you on track. You are far less likely to consciously purchase chips and ice-cream online than you are in the store. Use your written weekly meal plan (to reference), your phone (to pull up the recipes), and your laptop/tablet (to order the groceries on).
Meal prep. Prepping your meals and snacks makes your healthy food become the “fast food” option. As soon as you get home, organize your refrigerator so everything is visible. Prep your veggies. You can freeze the prepped veggies in ziplock bags and label them with the recipe they will be used in. Wash fruit so they can be grabbed quickly for a snack. You can also cook your meat in bulk and freeze or store the leftovers. When I cook ground meat, I use 2x what the recipe calls for and freeze half for a meal later in the week.
I am all about time saving options. Let me know what your favorite cooking hack is!