Meal planning can seem a little intimidating and overwhelming if you've never done it before, but it doesn’t have to be. Today I’m going to provide you with some tips to make the process quicker and easier so meal planning can reduce stress in your life, not add to it.
1. Create a List of Your Favorite Recipes
Each time you try a recipe you love, add it to a list. Next time you need an idea, refer back to this list to help you create your meal plan.
If there is a recipe you love and want to eat on a weekly basis, go for it! There is nothing wrong with a little repetition. If it makes your life easier, that’s a bonus. You can even repeat the same recipe, but make small modifications each week to make it feel new and exciting, such as making a veggie flatbread with different toppings.
2. Be Strategic When Planning Meals for the Week
Pick recipes that will provide leftovers you can incorporate into your lunches and/or dinner the next day. Maybe this means you’ll make a large meal on Sunday night and again mid-week to take care of the next few work lunches.
Also choose recipes with some overlapping ingredients. This reduces the amount of prep work you have to do, and also helps save money.
3. Mix Cuisines + Protein Sources for Variety
A lot of us are guilty of eating chicken, chicken and more chicken. Get creative and aim for variety to make your meals more exciting, and get more nutrition.
Incorporating different cuisines or choosing themes can also help with planning meals. For instance, ‘Meatless Monday,’ ‘Taco Tuesday,’ ‘Italian Wednesday’… you get the idea.
4. Take Inventory Before You Make a Meal Plan
Create your meal plan based off of what you already have on hand. This can take a lot of the work out of meal planning, and is another way to save money.
For instance, already have whole wheat buns in the pantry and turkey burgers in the freezer? Grab some burger toppings and veggies to grill on the side, and you’re set! Easy as that.
5. Identify Your Favorite Sources of Inspiration
Where do you like to go for recipe ideas? Pinterest? Instagram? Food blogs? Do you type random ingredients into Google and see what pops up?
When you come across a recipe that sounds good to you, bookmark it! Screenshot it! Write it down! You’ll thank yourself the next time you’re in a food rut and need some inspiration.
6. Don’t Stress About Being Perfect
We are all human. Don’t worry about your meals being perfectly healthy, following your meal plan to a tee every week, or even making a meal plan every week. The purpose of a meal plan is to reduce stress in your life, not add to it.
Planning your meals is just one way you can be a little more intentional about your food choices, get some more variety into your diet, and ensure that you are well-fed even on busy weeks. It can help your bank account, too.
Despite what you see on Instagram, not every meal has to be picture worthy. If it’s delicious, satisfying, easy and realistic for you, that’s all that matters.