7 Tips for Less-Stress Meal Planning

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Let’s be real. Meal planning can sometimes suck.

That’s right, I said it… It can be stressful, it takes time, preparation and planning (don’t even get me started on holiday time)!

But, here’s the real meal deal. You wanna stay on your goals and prioritize your health and happiness, right?

There is ONE crucial step to meeting those goals: Ya gotta do what ya gotta do!

And part of that means preparing and planning, especially with your food.

I saw something this weekend that truly disturbed me. I went over to my mom’s and saw her in the kitchen looking confused, frustrated, and totally stressed out!

There were cookbooks and recipes strewn all over the table with a list of meals needed along with coupons and items on sale at different stores.   

Clearly, this wasn’t her cup-of-tea!

Concerned, I asked her what was going on.  

She responded, “This is ONE of THEE most stressful things to do.”

So I asked her what she was needing and she laughed and said, “An in-home chef!”  

We would all love that, right?

But then I asked again and said – “No, really mom, what do you need?”

She said, “I just wish I had an organized way of going about this. I feel like it takes me so long to just get a plan down, and by the time I go shopping I’m so exhausted!

Meal planning just so happens to be my JAM, so, I whipped out my Marvelous Meal Planner.

Now, this isn’t just your everyday meal planner…

Think of this as a map giving you some direction. As with anything – take what will work for you and pitch the rest.

Here are 7 Easy Tips to help inspire YOU (and my mom) to infuse some fun and inspiration into meal planning. Meal plans are a great way to stay on track with your health goals, save time, and keep you within a budget.

0-01Round up your Recipes

This is a recipe roundup, so whether you like to create your own recipes or find inspiration from others, it’s best to start from a place of knowing what you’ll be making during the week. That way you can make a list of all the things you’ll need. Much like baking a cake, you need to know what ingredients you’ll be working with, first.

You can pick out a few new recipes to try during the week and then fill in the rest of your plan with your favorite go-to staples and easy to make meals.

If you’ve got one or two blogs that you’ve been following or a cookbook that you’ve been eyeing – pull those up on the computer and dust off those cookbooks and open them up! They are full of inspiring food photos, scrumptious names that make your mouth-water and other ideas! It’s also in this step that you do your checks and balances. What ingredients do you already have? What do you need? Here is where you make yourself a shopping list.

Some of my favorite cookbooks and food blogs include:

Crazy Sexy Kitchen (awesome plant-based recipes)

I Quit Sugar  (fabulous food ideas)

The Earth Diet (amazing whole food recipes)

Once you’ve tagged your recipes, check-out tip #2.

Thug Kitchen (Def. lightens the mood and you’re sure to get some good laughs, but PS – there is a whole lotta swearing so kiddos put your earmuffs and blindfolds on because this cookbook has got some naughty language, FYI)

Some of my favorite food bloggers include:

DeliciouslyElla (whole real foods with a purpose)

Food Sense (beautiful food-spiration!)

Elana’s Pantry (gfree baking!)

GF Mom Certified (gluten-free home-cooked meals!)

The Philosophie (superfoods galore!)

Stores Galore

Know where and when you’re going shopping. Pick out the places that you need to hit up and set a time that is going to work for you and your schedule. I like shopping later at night when the store has quieted down, usually during the week. Or if shopping physically at the store doesn’t work for you, use an app like instacart to order your groceries and have them delivered to your door. It’s SO much easier!

Shopping the makes sense

Shop 2x/week. You don’t have to get everything all at once. Make your list and your meal plans for 2-3 days and buy what you need. Shopping in smaller spurts for fresh veggies, fruits and meats can help with your budget, food waste and time.

 Preparation = Progress

Prepping anything in advance is so helpful… especially in this busy, busy world! Prep your veggies for on-the-go snacks, pre-make your smoothies and set up your meals for the next day so you’re not left hangry! (hungry + angry!)

 What’s cooking, good looking?

After you’ve got your ingredients, it’s time to get cooking, gals and guys! Make sure to make double batches of things so you’ve got them throughout the week AND you can freeze pretty much anything (even avocados)! Turn on some good tunes, so you can really enjoy getting your Top Chef on.

 Loving Leftovers!

Once you’ve made your food, the inevitable happens. You’ve got too much and you don’t know what to do with it. Never fear! Dressing up your leftovers leaves you in the clear! Ask yourself what leftover can be used in other dishes, wrapped in a tortilla or lettuce wrap, put in a soup, sautéed with other veggies and meat or over a salad? This is where your creative juices start flowing!

 Snacks that fuel success

Make sure to keep your snacks handy! Make an emergency food kit (learn how to make one here) and pre-prep your snacks like trail-mixes and fruits or hummus and veggies.

Use these “done-for-you” sheets to inspire you to shop, cook and prep your way to feeling fabulous!

Now, I’d love to hear from you!

What is ONE simple idea or inspiration you took away from this blog and what’s one tip you’re going to take action on today or share your favorite cookbooks and/or blogs! I’d love to know what you love!

Let me know below. Your comments, questions and stories help to inspire others on their journey to health!

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