When it comes to healthy eating, weekly meal planning is one of the easiest things you can do to set yourself up for success. Long term weight loss success requires eating healthy foods on a consistent basis. Consistently eating healthy does take some time and effort. However, incorporating some weekly or monthly meal planning will definitely set yourself up for success and make healthy eating much easier!
Benefits of meal planning:
1. Makes eating healthy easier! Planning your meals prior to going to the grocery stores will ensure you are planning to consume healthy options for the week to come.
2. Saves money and reduces food waste! Many feel that eating healthy is more expensive but if you have a specific plan and only purchase what you need then it is easy to eat healthy on a budget and reduce the amount of food you are wasting each week.
3. Less stress and saves time! You can finally avoid the annoying question “what’s for dinner?” If you take the time to plan then everyone knows what’s for dinner, less stress each night thinking about what you will cook and such a time saver when you do a little prep on the weekends! 1-2 hours of meal prep on the weekend can save you 4-5 hours during the week.
Three steps for easy meal planning and meal prep!
Step One: Make a Master Recipe List!
One of the hardest parts about meal planning each week is determining what you will prep and cook! I encourage you to sit down and complete the master recipe list with all the foods and recipes you currently use and enjoy despite how nutritional they might be. Once you have your list together you can look for new healthier recipes to try and you can look for healthier alternatives to some of your favorites! That way each week you can sit down to your master list and quickly pick a few meals to plan for. This also allows for the whole family to easily get involved and pick things they would like to eat during the week. Taking the time to create this list will save you tons of time each week.
Step Two: Make a weekly plan!
Every Sunday I like to think of at least one lunch option I will take to work for the whole week and then plan out about 3-4 dinner options. I figure that we will eat out at least 1-2 days a week and we can eat leftovers 1-2 days a week. I always plan for 2-3 meals and one crockpot and my goal is to prep as much as possible on Sunday to save valuable time during the week.
Step Three: Make a list!
Once you have your menu set, take a look at what you currently have on hand and what you will need to buy for all 5 meals (1 lunch and 3-4 dinners). Only buying what you need for that week will reduce food cost and food waste so stick to your list!
Step Four: Prep and package foods!
Choose one day each week to spend 1-2 hours in the kitchen pre prepping your meals. I like to meal prep on Sunday afternoon. Wash and cut vegetables for easy access during the week to use as snacks or make salads. Roast 1-2 pans of veggies to quickly reheat during the week. Go ahead and marinate your meats to cook later in the week or cook any up that can be quickly reheated during the week such as taco beef or grilled chicken. Prepackage any snack foods such as nuts or fruit that can be used for a quick grab and go item during the week. Last, put together your one crockpot you plan to use later week. Having that already put together to quickly turn on one morning will be a lifesaver! Once all your food has cooled then place in plastic containers, put in your refrigerator and you are hours ahead on healthy eating through the week.
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