Everyone talks about weekly meal prep but forgets to mention weekly meal planning. One of my biggest tips is to plan out some meals you are going to eat during the week. It makes it so much easier when it comes to grocery shopping and you won’t go crazy deciding what to make for dinner every night. All it takes is about 30 minutes to plan out your meals for the week. I’m giving you my top tips for meal planning & prepping to help you get started.
Weekly Meal Planning
How do I plan a menu for a week?
Cater to your cravings. Is there anything that you’ve been wanting to make or eat? Is there a particular cuisine you’ve been craving? If so, plan to make something that helps you beat this craving. The worst is making something and wishing you were eating something completely different. You want and should be able to enjoy the food you eat. Otherwise, you may binge on something you wish you hadn't
Check your fridge and pantry. Do you have anything left over from last week that needs to be used? Do you have an overflow of rice in your pantry or fish that’s been in the freezer for a few weeks? If so, utilize things you already have before buying more and adding to your stash. This helps with the organization and also can save you a little money!
Find inspiration. Check Pinterest, food blogs, Instagram, etc. and see what meals catch your eye if you’re lacking inspiration. You don't have to follow these recipes exactly but they may help spark your brain.
How do I make a grocery list?
After all of the above, you should have at least a few meals in mind. From here, start creating your grocery list (make sure you don’t buy things you already have!). Also, don’t assume you have something without checking first. It can be easy to run out of things like salt or olive oil, but you forget to put it on your list.
Organize your grocery list by department in the store and the direction in which you walk. If you know the layout of the store you’re going to, create your list so the department at the entrance (usually produce) is at the top of your list. It will make for a much easier and faster shopping trip!
I’m not a huge fan of meal prepping because I only want to reheat my food when I'm eating leftovers at lunch the next day. I prefer to cook my dinner and eat it the same day. But it can be really beneficial and will add extra time to your weekdays to meal prep, so occasionally I will chop vegetables or portion out proteins for the week. Hopefully, in your weekly meal planning, you decided on meals that are not too challenging or require too many steps. This will just add extra unnecessary work and stress.
How do I start meal prepping?
Start with what you know first. For example, if you plan to hard boil eggs for the week, start that first because it’s simple and something you probably already know how to do. Then, move on to the more difficult recipes.
Use one appliance at a time. If you need the oven for 3 recipes, preheat and get started on those first. Then, move on to others such as the air-fryer, stovetop, slow cookers or pressure cooker.
Something as simple as chopping veggies you will use during the week and marinating proteins is also considered meal prep. You don’t need to cook anything for it to be considered prepping. Even this will save you time later in the week.
If you are able, I suggest leaving things such as steaming vegetables or cooking rice until the day/night of. This will make the meal taste better and fresher.
Healthy Lifestyle Tips
I’m going to share with you my favorite tips and hacks for not only eating healthier but also for ways to reduce the amount of time you spend thinking about your meals and cooking. These tips are meant to be practical and easy for the normal, crazy and busy lifestyles most people live.
How do I start living a healthy lifestyle?
My #1 tip is to eat as many whole, real foods made from plants as you can, rather than foods made in a plant. Increase the number of vegetables and fruits you have in a day and decrease the amount of prepackaged grab-and-go foods you eat.
You can just as easily pick up an apple or banana as you can a bag of chips or a candy bar. I promise this will make a huge difference in your health, the way you feel, your energy levels, your skin, your happiness, etc. It’s the easiest thing you can do! Hint: Meal prepping, such as chopping veggies, will make this a lot easier.
My second tip is to try to eat veggies at least 3 times per day. I always have veggies with lunch and dinner and then try to include them in my breakfast or one of my snacks. Smoothies, soups, sauce and egg scrambles/omelets are some of the easiest ways to sneak extra veggies in!
Finally, you should try to round out your meals by including each macronutrient group: protein, fats, and carbohydrates (see my Guide to Macronutrients above). People can be afraid of fats, but healthy fats help to keep you full longer and help with the absorption of nutrients into your body.
You don’t have to give up your favorite foods to live a healthy lifestyle! Food restriction is a serious issue and can lead to very unhealthy eating habits. I like to live by the 80/20 rule depending on how I’m feeling. This means 80% of the time I’ll eat healthy, nutritious, wholesome foods but 20% of the time I’ll allow myself foods that are not as nutritious. You can also make healthy swaps for your favorites such as using brown rice pasta or zucchini noodles instead of regular white pasta.
Meal plan, meal prep and always have a grocery list! Choose one day of the week where you can sit down for about 30 minutes to do some weekly meal planning for yourself and/or your family. After planning, make a grocery list, making sure to check your house for any items you already have. Never go to the grocery store without a list, you will most likely end up buying too many prepackaged foods, things you don't need or you'll end up forgetting something that you do need. Also, never ever ever go grocery shopping hungry! This is just bad for your wallet.