If you’ve got goals to eat healthier and improve your nutrition, having a meal plan strategy is going to help you get there faster and easier. In fact, the simplest way to ensure your success is to have a foolproof system in place you can repeat week after week.
Meal planning guarantees you have accessible, healthy, delicious meals ready to roll the second you need them. Less rash decision making because you’re short on time and fewer trips through the drive-thru! You’ll save money on eating out and from wasting money on groceries that you don’t actually use.
Meal planning regularly creates nourishing habits that benefit your entire family. It helps to provide structure and rhythm to your week that solidifies eating healthy as a lifestyle, not just a fad diet. Being intentional about setting aside time to meal prep forces you to slow down and provides an opportunity to be intentional about your goals and the way you’re fueling your body. You’re making a statement that your goals are important and you are worth the investment of time and resources to be purposeful in your food choices!
Now that you’re pumped up about the benefits of meal planning, I want to walk you through my step-by-step process.
Step 1:Take an honest look at your calendar and see what the upcoming week looks like. Are you working late? Kids sporting events? Family members out of town? Identify nights when you need leftovers to reheat or meals ready in the slow cooker.
Pick out recipes, plan what you're going to eat for each meal, take inventory of what's in your fridge, freezer & pantry, and write out a grocery list. I like to plan to cook for three nights and have three nights of leftovers, then we eat out on Saturday nights.
Grocery shop and/or place grocery orders on-line. Save time by doing one big grocery shop for the week as opposed to swinging by the store every night on your way home from work. Grocery delivery can be game changer for busy people! Favorite resources of mine are Butcher Box, Vital Choice, Thrive Market, Farm Fresh to You, Imperfect Produce, Instacart and Amazon.
Put food away in its place and make sure it’s easy to access and well organized. Pre-wash and pre-chop produce to save time later on in the week. Chunk your time smartly to reduce overall time in the kitchen.
Take advantage of the time you have in the kitchen and batch cook meals. Bake two chickens instead of one, roast two pans of veggies to save time on another night, cook a batch of soup on the stove while another dinner is in the oven.
Set up an assembly line and make all of your breakfast or lunches for the week. You
can put all of your smoothie ingredients in baggies and keep them in the freezer or put salad ingredients in containers. One of my favorites is to cook a spaghetti squash in the instant pot and divide it into four glass Pyrex containers topped with grass-fed beef cooked with spinach and marinara sauce. Lunches are made for the whole week! I also make my coconut yogurt parfaits assembly-line style to have lunches ready to grab-n-go.
Kids love to help with this too! Have them in charge of making individual baggies of trailmix or putting fruit in containers for their lunch each day. We often think meal prep has to take away from family time but you can invite your kids to help and teach them abouthealthy food while spending time with them.
Make notes about what you can do better next time. If your lettuce goes bad because
you don't have time to wash it, perhaps you could buy pre-washed lettuce next time.
Save meal plans & grocery lists to reuse next month. Keep track of what went well and what you need to troubleshoot.
Meal planning may feel foreign and time consuming at the beginning, but like any skill that's worthwhile to learn, it gets easier with time. This investment of your time and energy will pay off big time. If you need help getting started download my 2018 Summer Meal Plan: 7 days of breakfast, lunch & dinner recipes plus snacks, dessert, and even a healthy cocktail. I've included a shopping list too that you can print and take with you to the store. Happy meal Planning!
Guest blog by: Lindsay Young Certified Transformational
Nutrition Coach and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist who specializes in helping passionate women develop a lifestyle & nutrition plan that works with their busy life. Grab her free download, the LLW 2018 Summer Meal Plan, for a day-by-day seasonal meal plan that takes the guesswork out of eating healthy! Visit Lindsay on Instagram for daily tips on how to make healthy living simple and joyful.