Beginners Guide to Simple Meal Planning
I know we all have good intentions for the plans we have for eating healthier and meal planning, but somehow, someway, we find ourselves standing in a crowded supermarket on a Sunday afternoon in complete overwhelm mode. We start grabbing the same old staples from the weeks before, with equal parts confusion and carelessness, somehow forgetting about the 3,003 pins of healthy recipes we have saved in our Healthy Recipes board on Pinterest. I totally feel ya’ sista’! We’ve all been there…but the good news is it doesn’t have to stay this way. I put together a Beginners Guide to Simple Meal Planning.
Meal Planning, and the aforementioned prepping and grocery shopping can be simplified! It’s seriously become one of my life goals to help show you how, in addition to all of the benefits you may already be thinking about. So let’s get down to business.
First Step: The 10,000 Ft. View of Simple Meal Planning
I pinky swear we are gonna keep this simple. Like everything else, let’s first take a look at the most basic steps to meal planning as an overview.
- Choose your favorite recipes that you’d like to try for the week
- Shop for the ingredients
- Prepare the ingredientsThis is the super-duper, simplified outline of what’s about to go down. But, of course, we want to personalize and have fun with it, so that we will actually stick with it long-term.
Starting with the End in Mind: What’s Your End Goal
What’s the initial reason you realized you had a need to Meal Plan? Was it for health reasons? Was it to save money? To save time? Add variety to your meals? To sit down and eat as a family? All of the above? Whichever the reason, you will want to think ahead on this before you begin to choose your recipes for the week. If your reason was to save time, you probably don’t want to choose the handmade pasta recipe or something you found in Julia Child’s cookbook. Or if your goal is to eat healthier, you’d probably want to stay focused on searching for recipes that include wholesome, non-processed, nutrient-rich ingredients. So be sure to choose those recipes with YOUR best intentions and YOUR goals in mind. This one step will help to set yourself up for long-term success.
If you are in need of a resource, I send out healthy, meal planner recipes straight to your email each week, so if you struggle with figuring out what meals you can put together to create a healthy, well-balanced meal plan, you won’t have to any longer. I got you, sis… You can sign up here:
Work Your Numbers
Here is where you decide how many recipes you’d like to try out for the week and for how many people for each. For example, most of my clients, and myself included, like to repeat breakfast and lunch each day (bulk prepping) while enjoying some variety for our dinners, such as a 3 dinner choice rotation. I recommend this, especially in the beginning, so overwhelm doesn’t start to creep in. If you have 2 people to plan and prep for, and you are eating the same yogurt parfait for say 6 days, you’d need 12 portions of yogurt for the week. This set-up allows beginners a good mix of practicing bulk meal prepping along with added variety and fun into their meal plan, so as not to get bored.
Create Your Grocery List
Next, you can begin to write out the list of ingredients and amounts based on how you decided the number of meals in the above step. This step may be the most tedious, but it has the most beneficial outcome when you go to the grocery store with a planned list. This list will help you to save time, money and frustration while food shopping each week….no more mindlessly walking around buying everything that looks appealing anymore! You will start to notice that you get in, get out, and stay on budget, without sweating bullets at the check-out line waiting to find out the total you just spent.
Meal Prep Time
Every Sunday, I spend about 2 hours prepping all of the groceries that I bought, down to the individually portioned to-go containers for breakfasts and lunches, so you are never too late trying to get ready for your workday. I call this bulk prepping, meaning I make about 5-6 days worth of foods at once. Some weeks, when I know I have busy evenings, I may also make my dinners in advance too.
Consistency is the Key to Success
Like “they” say practice makes perfect…however, I don’t believe in perfection. Instead, I believe that consistently doing something will eventually create good habits. The more you plan ahead, the more you will find yourself being able to do what was once a challenge, automatically, without much thought. Eventually, you will find yourself putting lists together of your favorite go-to meals. You will also end up creating your grocery lists based on where items are located in the market, and you won’t have to think twice!
You will also start to organize when you do each of these steps, based on your schedule. I like to plan the recipes and grocery lists on Fridays or Saturday mornings at the latest, go grocery shopping on Sat or Sunday, and meal prep on Sundays. That’s what works for me, so don’t be afraid to use trial and error to test out the schedule that works best for you.
So, I give you permission to keep it simple in the beginning. Even if you need to start by planning only your breakfasts or lunches the first week, then do just that. Each week, you can add another meal to the mix. As time goes on, you will go from a Meal Planner Beginner to a Meal Planning Unicorn.
But, let’s not end this conversation here…I want to hear from you! What did you try? Did you sign up for my free meal planner recipes, yet? Let’s help one another get better! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out and ask me.