Meal planning.

The thought of this either makes you excited and happy or makes you cringe and dread eating healthy. You’re busy, meal planning takes time, effort, and serious organization, right?

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.

Having the thought of how busy you are to meal prep in the back of your mind, doesn’t really help our effort, does it? Trust us, some weeks the last thing we want to do is plan and prep, especially when there is a meat loving, condiment loading fiancé, and a toddler over here. But, what if we told you meal prepping would actually make your life easier! The amount of time you save when you set aside time in the week to organize and prep is kind of unbelievable. You save time thinking about what to eat, you save time putting dinner and snacks together, and save time stressing about your health. Meal planning and prepping 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 all said and done and your closet is nice and tidy, and the tub is spotless, you can relax and feel great about the space you are in.

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 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. Here is a step-by-step guide (and some amazing tips) for getting meal planning down pat, when you are busy busy.

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 it’s so 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 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.

 

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.

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 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 you are out, starving and having nothing to reach for except for what’s in front of you, and usually, you are ready to eat whatever it is that’s in front of you. 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, being a great meal prepper or planner doesn’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. 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.

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