Inside Scoop: Here is your complete step-by-step guide on meal planning for busy people.
Meal planning for busy people.
Eating healthy food, no problem, but prepping healthy food… that’s a whole different ball game. You’re busy, meal planning takes time, effort, and serious organization.
Well, yes, but at the same time, it’s also a learning curve. Every time you aim to prep you have to learn what works for you, what foods you like, what you don’t like, and the more you do it, the better you become at prepping. Just like anything, you eventually master the skill.
But when it comes to busy bodies, the phrase “i’m too busy for it” often lingers, and even for us, spending an entire day prepping food and cooking from scratch isn’t always our cup of tea.
You’re busy, and meal planning has it’s own set of rules. First of all, it needs to be something that can easily be applied to your life. It shouldn’t involve whole days of prepping, but rather tips and strategies that guide you through your busy day, and ultimately it should end up saving you time rather than creating more time.
So, what if we told you that meal planning can be done easily and effectively with just 1-2 hours in the week set aside, and some really simple tips and strategies? Would you be into it?
Meal planning and prepping can seem like daunting tasks sometimes, but when it’s all said and done, it ends up being something you are happy you’ve done. It’s like that pile of laundry you’re dreading to fold, or that bit of mold on the tub you loathe to clean. When it’s finally added to your schedule in a consistent fashion you start becoming happy that it’s just a part of your life.
No, you don’t have to stick to a set meal-plan!
We’re not saying you have to stick to a set menu every single week. That’s actually not our style. We’re intuitive eaters, so when the moment to eat arises we like to suss out how we feel and eat accordingly. It’s always nice to have a ready made meal to go, but sometimes we prep ingredients so that we can create the meals we want, like a salad or sandwich bar, the ingredients are ready for your imagination and preference.
All that being said, we have some great meal planning for busy people strategies that don’t necessarily involve the chopping and cooking aspect. Meal planning is about actually planning and organizing your time, so finding ways to make all that simpler, definitely helps with the process.
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MEAL PLANNING FOR BUSY PEOPLE, YOUR STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE
STEP 1: GO OUT AND BUY A PLANNER OR ORGANIZER
This is one of the biggest things that changed our meal planning game. We went out and bought this awesome weekly whiteboard fridge planner. It’s perfect for adding your daily meals, your ingredients, your recipes, whatever you need to keep it planned and organized.
STEP 2: BUILD YOUR RECIPE DATABASE
This one is often overlooked.
We’re not all chefs over here, so having a solid recipe database is essential for sticking to healthy eating. There’s nothing worse than looking in your fridge, feeling totally uninspired, and cooking plain chicken with plain veggies, blugh. How do you stick to a healthy lifestyle if your food is boring?
Luckily there are THOUSANDS of healthy and delicious (delicious is key!) recipes out there that are easy to make and will keep you on track. Make sure you bookmark your recipes under a tab that is specifically dedicated to tried and true recipes that you and your whole family love!
Some of our favourite places to find delicious recipes (in our humble and personal opinions) are:
Pinterest, Foodgawker, Abbey’s Kitchen, Yummly, MealGarden
Tip: when searching for recipes, use the search words “gluten-free” “vegan” “paleo” “healthy” “simple and healthy” “dairy-free”, although we don’t conform to one specific diet or way of eating, a lot of these search tags have incredibly delicious recipes that are healthy. We usually pick the best picture, to be honest.
Having something like this tablet stand will make reading and accessing your recipe database a breeze in the kitchen.
STEP 3: SET UP YOUR FOOD SCHEDULE FOR THE WEEK
You know all of those amazing and delicious recipes you’ve been saving and testing? Start placing them in your planner (or new fridge whiteboard) and organizing your week.
Guess what, you don’t have to make it a solid plan or stand true to your meal plan, you can move them around, change it up, and address how you are feeling in the day, that’s no issue (that’s why those boards are erasable, you know).
Having a food schedule makes it so much more simple to get groceries, to prep and cook some of the stuff you will be using in the week, and to stick to a plan, which overall, helps with your weight loss success. PS, it’s also much more cost-effective.
STEP 4: MAKE SURE YOUR KITCHEN IS ORGANIZED
It’s so easy to get home from the bulk store and just chuck your plastic bags with bulk flour or nuts in your cupboard and walk away. It’s wayyyy easier than taking the flour out of the bag, placing it in a jar, making a little mess, cleaning (you get the picture). But let us tell you, and what we know for a fact because it’s taken us a while to get our kitchens the way we want them to be, that an organized kitchen makes it so much easier to eat healthy (one of the biggest ‘meal planning for busy people’ tip to finally get down and do).
Your trailmix and granola are in eye’s view, your whole grain flours are easy to grab, your oats are right there, you don’t have to rummage, pull out, make a mess searching, trying to decipher what’s in what bag.
You can easily grab your containers, your utensils, you know where it’s all going to be in your fridge…. These things seem like they don’t matter in the grand scheme of things (especially when you are putting your stuff away), but they totally do.
And really, to organize your groceries when you get home may take 10 minutes extra, but the relief it brings after looking at an organized space… those 10 minutes are really nothing in the grand scheme of things.
STEP 5: PICK 1 DAY OF THE WEEK AND TWO HOURS TO CHOP AND BATCH COOK
This is another one that we start doing for a few weeks, and then it slips through our fingers, because, well, busy you know? But picking one day of the week, 30 minutes – 60 minutes to:
- Chop vegetables
- Prep smoothie packs
- Cook quinoa/ brown rice
- Roast veggies
- Make salad jars
- Make overnight oats or chia pudding
- Make soup
Will drastically reduce the stress of planning your daily meals. You will be able to have all the ingredients at your fingertips, and whipping up a fresh salad, sandwich, soup or whatever is 1000x easier. It 100% helps keep you on track.
STEP 6: KNOW THE HEALTHIEST RESTAURANTS CLOSE BY
If you eat out more often than not, then knowing what and where the healthiest restaurants are, and how to navigate the menu is incredibly important. You would be hard-pressed to NOT be able to find something when you are eating out.
Most restaurants carry salads, vegetable soups, or grilled chicken breasts with veggies. No matter where you are, chances are there will be something to eat that’s not going to throw you off your game. It’s all about knowing what to eat, how to make the healthiest swaps, and the whereabouts of the healthiest menus.
Do some research into your local spots to get the deets on which takeout and sit down restaurants best suit your needs.
STEP 7: ALWAYS HAVE HEALTHY SNACKS ON HAND (especially if you are on-the-go)
One of the biggest things that throw us off our game is when we are out, starving and having nothing to reach for except for what’s in front of us, and usually, we are ready to eat whatever it is that’s in front of us.
If you know you are going to be on-the-go all day long, and incredibly busy, it’s best to pack nutrient dense, high protein, fiber and healthy fat snacks to keep your hunger and blood sugar levels balanced, so that when an actual meal comes along, you can make the choice that you want to make.
Check out our 10 Energy Bars For Snacking On-The-Go here for our top picks on the healthiest energy bars out there. Some other delicious snack options to prep ahead of time and add to your bag or purse are:
- Trail mix with raw nuts, seeds & dark chocolate chips
- Veggies & hummus
- Hardboiled egg & veggies
- Peanut butter & brown rice cakes
- Homemade protein muffins
- Quinoa Greek salad
Like we said, these meal prepping for the busy person tips and strategies don’t happen overnight, especially if you aren’t used to it, or aren’t used to cooking.
It takes time to know what works for you, but the more you do it, the better you become at it, and the easier it is to add it to your schedule in a consistent fashion. Having healthy chopped and prepped foods and snacks on hand is always a great start, but adding in some of our above tips to help keep you organized makes the actual prep part so much easier.
Do you have any meal prepping tips that we are missing? Let us know in the comments below.
And, if you are looking for another amazing meal prepping resource, make sure you download our free Healthy Pantry Shopping Staples list here: