Meal Planning Tips and Tricks

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Do you make multiple trips to the grocery store each week because you don't have what you need for a meal?   Do you come home from work hungry and start snacking on everything in site without a plan for what you'll eat for dinner?  Do you find yourself snacking through lunch because you don't have time (or the desire) to make your own balanced and energizing meal?

If you said YES to any of these questions and struggle with planning your meals for the week, then keep reading below to learn my tips to execute on the three P's to become a meal-prep pro! It may seem overwhelming at first but, trust me, it will pay dividends (and you’ll get more efficient each time you do it).   Failing to plan is planning to fail. 

  1. First, to plan out your meals, grab your calendar.  I highly encourage you to review your schedule for the week (including evening activities) and decide which nights you have time to cook and which nights you need a quick grab-and-go meal.  You don't want to plan and shop for five dinners only to realize that you have plans three nights and won't be able to eat the food you bought.

  2. Keep it simple! Don’t try to make more than one or two new recipes per week.  If you like to cook, great; however, you do not need to be a skilled chef to eat clean or cook whole foods.  You can cook many meals with five ingredients or less that will keep you satisfied. Check out my blogInstagram page and Pinterest boards for inspiration.

  3. Next, create a shopping list from your meal plan and head to the grocery store to PURCHASE lots of fruits, veggies and protein sources and other whole foods that require minimal preparation.    I love using the Cozi app to organize my grocery shopping list by store and dept.

  4. Pick a day, ideally the same day you shop, where you have an hour or two to PREP food for the week. Clean and chop fruit and veggies to eat raw and cook for dinner.  Here are my go-to items that I like to prep: hard boiled eggs, grain (like rice or quinoa), protein (chicken, ground beef, meatballs), roasted veggies/chick peas, soup/chili, sauces/dressings/marinades.  Make sure you make enough to have for multiple meals (leftovers for lunches etc).

  5. Stock your freezer: I always have the following on hand:  ground meat, chicken breast/thighs, salmon, spinach, kale, peas, corn, riced cauliflower, Cali'flour Pizza Crust, Organic Spinach  and Kale, Cheese Raviolis from Costco (my kids love these), berries and other fruit, bread (take out the night before when you need for lunches), sprouted grain english muffins, breakfast burritos and soup/broth.

  6. What can you do when you're out of town on the weekend?  Don't stress...it's going to be OK.  Here are some ideas to get through the week without relying on frozen pizza or take out every night.

    • Use travel/down time over the weekend to plan your meals.  Focus on making your go-to recipes and not trying to make a lot of new/complicated meals.

    • Order groceries and have them delivered when you arrive home.  Maybe you buy more pre-cut veggies to reduce prep time this week.

    • Make a Costco run:  If you have a family this is a great way to shop at one store and have plenty of food for the week.  Costco has a lot of organic produce and meat as well as grains, beans and nuts.

    • Stock your freezer in advance.  The week or two leading up to a trip (or just a busy weekend at home) make a soup/chili, meatballs, breakfast cookies etc. so that you have at least one meal that you can have on the table in 15 minutes or less.

Here are a few of my favorite tools and gadgets to help you meal plan like a pro:

  • Chalkboard Wallie-I know I've shared this before but simple solution that I learned from client is literally is what keeps me honest with meal planning.  It's prominently displayed in my mudroom so even the kids can see what we're eating for dinner.  This can be cut down to accommodate any size space.  You'll also need liquid chalk markers.

  • Instant Pot (I have the 8 Qt size) -This gets used multiple times per week and usually twice on the day I meal prep (eggs, grain, chicken, etc.)

  • Glass storage containers-The key to meal prep is having the food readily available and visible in the fridge.  Using glass over plastic containers not only prevents harmful chemicals from getting into your food but it keeps the food fresh longer and makes clean-up easier.  I love using the snap on glass containers like these as well as good old fashion mason jars (I use the 16 oz and 32 oz sizes to store nuts, seeds, coconut, soups, broth etc).

  • Lots of cutting boards like this large bamboo one.

Check out my Instagram Feed for my regular meal prep posts and recipe ideas.

If you're interested in learning how to meal prep and plan like a pro and reduce your daily stress around feeding your family then set up your FREE 30-minute consultation and make 2019 the year you prioritized your health!

Stephanie Potter