Meal Planning Ideas for Busy People
Simple Meal Planning Ideas That Work Even When You’re Busy
Do want to eat healthier, but you’re super-busy? You may eat out several times a week because that’s what you have to do. That’s what works for you and your family (when it comes to time and convenience). But you probably realize it’s not working great when it comes to your health and fitness goals.
You want better health. You want to eat better and you don’t want the extra calories, fast food and junk food as much anymore. And you DO want to save time and money.I get it! I am here to help you.
I have a simple strategy that I’m more than happy to share with you. It will help you to plan and prepare healthy meals for the week. Now, you don’t need to completely abandon your regular meals out. You can use my strategy to help you eat out just one or two fewer times per week. It’s up to you. As with any lifestyle change, start gradually so you can build consistency. The key here is to make it easy, doable and rewarding enough to do again and again.
Let me walk you through my simple meal prep system, and how this can work for you.
PLAN MEALS FOR THE WEEK
I work 40+ hours per week and I prefer to do my meal planning on the weekend. I’ll flip through my recipes and choose a bunch to make that week. I have recipes I print and keep in a recipe book but most often I go to my Pinterest boards to find the recipes I’ve saved.I’ll even pick which days to have which meals if I’m feeling overly ambitious, but that’s not necessary if you’re new to this. I bookmark the pages and write my chosen recipes down in a notebook or even a sheet of paper to put on my fridge.
Then I create my grocery list. I take a quick look in my fridge, freezer and pantry, and list the recipe ingredients that I need to buy. I know the layout of my grocery store so I write down the ingredients in the order that they will be in the store. That makes shopping a breeze.
If you’re not sure you have enough of an ingredient already, consider buying a “backup” one just in case. I’ve had times where the tomato sauce I planned to use was a bit short of what I actually needed. Having to run out in the middle of meal prep can be very frustrating. I keep most of my staple ingredients on hand and I have a list for when I go to Costco.
Another thing to consider is doubling the recipe(s), so you can prep and cook once, but have twice the meal at the end. The extras can be taken for lunch, or frozen to pull out the night before a busy day, so you just need to heat it up when you’re ready.
If you’re doubling a recipe, don’t forget to double the amount you buy from the grocery store.
Once you have your handy-dandy grocery list ready, hop on over to the store and pick up your essentials. If you don’t have enough food storage containers for your meals, now’s the time to pick up some of those too. My favorite containers are Mr. Lid. I love these because the lids never get lost.
If you’re not a fan of washing and chopping produce, then consider buying them already pre-washed and pre-chopped, or even frozen. You can make your meal prep even easier if you don’t mind spending a couple of extra dollars.
PREPARE MEALS FOR THE WEEK
Since you’ve already chosen your recipes and have your groceries, let’s get started on prepping some of the ingredients.
I like to book off 1-2 hours one afternoon for this. Get your recipes ready, clear off your counter, and play some music (if you’re so inclined).
At this point, depending on time, I’ll either prep the ingredients, or pre-cook the entire recipe. Sometimes just washing and chopping produce and putting it in containers is a huge time-saver for weeknights. Or, you can go through and make a whole meal, and divide it up into portions and refrigerate or freeze. It’s really up to you, because the more you do now, the less you’ll have to do when you’re hungry.
AWESOME MEAL PREP TIP
There is one meal that is easiest to plan and prepare in advance. It’s one that’s also often the most difficult to eat at home if you’re busy.
I cook up a bunch of hard boiled eggs on the weekend and I bake a tray of bacon. That way each morning I just need to grab two eggs and two pieces of bacon and I’m all set for breakfast. When I get tired of hard boiled eggs I make egg salad and eat them up that way. Another great way to have easy breakfast is to cook a frittata and divide it up in individual servings.
With a little planning, you’ll be able to eat healthier while you save money and eat real food.
This may take some getting used to, so if I can be of help, please reach out and let me know.