If you’re busy, and let’s be honest – we all are, meal planning and prepping is an absolute game-changer. Decision fatigue is a real thing, and when you’re busy, you can’t afford to spend your precious mental energy trying to figure out what to eat every single day. Learn to meal plan like a pro, and put that energy towards doing other great work in your life.
The first time I seriously meal planned and prepped, I had no idea what I was doing. It took a solid eight hours and I wanted to cry by the end of it.
Two years later, I’ve basically got it down to a science. Every week, I do my meal planning, grocery shopping, and prepping on Sunday. I can get this done in four hours tops. Four hours of work on Sunday saves me at least an hour each day through the week. That’s 7-8 hours per week!
Other than being a huge timesaver, this process also ensures that I have nourishing, whole foods to eat when I’m in a time crunch. It saves me from having to survive off of Epic Bars and various restaurant runs during busy weeks. It saves me money too.
More time, more money, and good, healthy food that keeps me feeling my best – all that work on Sunday is totally worth it for that.
Over the years I’ve learned that when it comes to meal planning, efficiency is everything. Keep reading to learn seven simple tips to make your meal planning process go smoothly.
- Dedicate a day for meal planning. When you’re especially busy, this can be a difficult thing to do, but you have to remind yourself how much time it will save you in the long run. Sundays usually work best for my schedule, but find what works for you and stick with it. Mark a day on the calendar and block out the appropriate amount of time so you can’t back out of it.
- Do some research and develop a plan. Use this as an excuse to browse your go-to Paleo blogs, flip through food magazines and cookbooks, or scroll through the feeds of your favorite Instagram foodies. Pick out meals or recipes that grab your attention. Bookmark these recipes so you can find them easily when needed. Using resources like Pinterest or Evernote to keep track of your favorites can be helpful.
- Once you have an idea of what meals you want to eat for the week, make a shopping list. Go through each recipe and make a note of what you’ll need to buy at the store. Armed with a comprehensive list, your shopping trip will be a breeze. No aimless aisle-wandering here.
- Keep it simple. When you’re busy, simplicity is everything. I like to stick to recipes that don’t use a ton of ingredients and can be whipped up relatively quickly. As you get better at meal planning, you will figure out what your favorite staple ingredients are. Mine are dark, leafy greens, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and riced cauliflower. I buy these every week. They are simple, versatile ingredients that I can build many different meals around.
- Start prepping as soon as you return from the grocery store. Go ahead and dice up an onion. Wash your greens and dry them thoroughly. Spiralize a few zucchini. Stick these veggies in large glass jars or containers (they will stay fresh longer in glass vs. plastic) and stick them in your fridge. Having these things pre-diced, chopped, or spiralized will make it so much easier during the week when you need them.
- Batch cook. This will seriously change your life. Roast multiple sweet potatoes or a couple heads of broccoli. Hard boil enough eggs for the week. Brown your turkey or beef. Roast a whole chicken under some root vegetables. When you’re done cooking, put the food into separate containers and store them in the fridge. (If you don’t think you’ll get through all that you cooked in a week, feel free to freeze leftovers so you have them for later.) In need of a quick grab-and-go lunch? You have chicken, roasted sweet potatoes, and veggies just waiting for you.
- Organize your refrigerator. After I’m done prepping, I like to sort my food by shelf. On the top shelf, I keep healthy carbs – things like squash, sweet potatoes, and fruit. The middle shelf is reserved for all of my greens, veggies, and herbs, and the bottom shelf is where I keep my protein sources. I find this system makes it incredibly easy to build balanced meals. I just pick one thing from each shelf and I’m good to go.
Meal planning can be intimidating, but don’t let that stop you. Use these tips, practice consistently, and you’ll be planning meals like a pro in no time. Do you have any tried-and-true tips? Drop me a line in the comments – I’d love to hear what works for you!
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