Every time I have a really busy schedule it happens that I de-rail my good habits and start to eat a lot of crap. In order to avoid that happening I try to do better at meal planning. But what are some easy tips to get you started?

Better meal planning

Meal planning can be a great way to save time, money, and ensure you are eating balanced and nutritious meals. Here are some tips to help you get started:

1. Set Goals and Plan Ahead

  • Determine Your Goals: Are you meal planning to save money, eat healthier, or save time? Your goals will shape your plan.
  • Choose a Planning Day: Pick a day to plan your meals for the upcoming week. Many people prefer Sundays.
  • Make a Schedule: Use a calendar or a meal planning app to schedule your meals for each day.
Meal planning made easy
Photo: Depositphotos.com

2. Assess Your Schedule

  • Consider Your Week: Look at your calendar to see what days are busy and may require quicker meals. Those are the ones I always go wrong, so planning for those is key!
  • Plan for Leftovers: Schedule meals that can be easily turned into leftovers for lunches or dinners later in the week. I like to make at least two meals out of one batch cook. I also easily turn the second meal into something slightly different by adding a few other ingredients. That way it never gets old.

3. Create a Balanced Menu

  • Include Variety: Make sure your meals include a variety of proteins, vegetables, fruits and healthy fats.
  • Portion Control: Plan portions that are appropriate for your dietary needs and goals.

4. Make a Grocery List

  • Check Your Pantry: Before making your list, see what you already have at home. This might sound like a given, but you wouldn’t believe the times I came back with a can of coconut milk, only to find I already had three sitting on the shelves.
  • Stick to the List: This helps avoid impulse buys and ensures you get everything you need for your planned meals.

5. Prep in Advance

  • Batch Cooking: Prepare large batches of meals or components like legumes (if you’re eating those), proteins, or veggies that can be used throughout the week.
  • Pre-Chop Ingredients: Cut up vegetables or fruits in advance to save time during the week. Make sure to know which vegetables cán be chopped up front and which ones are not so good for pre-chopping.
  • Use Proper Storage: Store prepped ingredients and meals in airtight containers to keep them fresh. Proper storage really does make all the difference!
Meal planning made easy

6. Utilize Freezer-Friendly Meals

  • Cook and Freeze: Make double batches of soups, stews, or casseroles and freeze half for a future week.
  • Label and Date: Clearly label and date your freezer meals to keep track of what needs to be used first.

7. Incorporate Quick and Easy Recipes

  • Simple Recipes: Choose some recipes that can be made in 30 minutes or less for busy days.
  • One-Pot Meals: Reduce cleanup by planning one-pot or one-pan meals.

8. Stay Flexible

  • Swap Days: If something comes up, be flexible and swap meals around as needed.
  • Allow for Spontaneity: Leave a day or two open for dining out or last-minute changes.

9. Get the Family Involved

  • Family Preferences: Consider everyone’s preferences and dietary needs.
  • Assign Tasks: Delegate meal prep tasks to other family members to make the process quicker and more fun.

10. Evaluate and Adjust

  • Review Weekly: At the end of each week, review what worked well and what didn’t.
  • Adjust Accordingly: Make adjustments to improve your meal planning process for the following week.

Helpful Resources

  • Meal Planning Apps: Apps like Mealime, Paprika, or Yummly can help you organize and store your meal plans and grocery lists.
  • Recipe Websites: Websites like AllRecipes, Epicurious, or Food Network provide a wide variety of recipes to choose from. I also like to use my own website In Simone’s Kitchen a lot for planning my recipes.

The above 10 tips for meal planning are simply a start to get you going. Remember that not all prepped meals need to be frozen. You can make a selection of freezable dishes and ones that simply can be kept for a few days in the fridge.

Author

Hi my name is Simone and I am a food photographer and blogger from the Netherlands. I strongly believe in the power of good food and think that making good choices every day will definitely create a healthier future. I've recently turned 61 and now more than ever, realize that health is everything. Check the link below to learn more about my story. I'm a certified health coach and live in the Netherlands with my two cats Humhrey and Buffy.

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