Meal planning and food preparation seems to be a big challenge for many people, and it is often an important component of living a healthy lifestyle. I know that I make better choices when I have healthy choices easily available! This is a process and skill that I have slowly developed over several years. As a result, it is sometimes difficult for me to teach or explain to others how I do this… but I’m going to try to break it down the best that I can!
Where to begin??
Disclaimer: I meal plan for just myself, which comes with quite the perks, but I’ll try to provide suggestions for those who are feeding more than just themselves!
Fridays are my planning day for the following week. Then, I do my grocery shopping on Saturdays, as it is typically the day of the farmer’s market or bountiful basket pick up. This allows me to assess what I’ll still need to get from the store and adjust my meal plans, if necessary.
Some weeks I have an idea of what I want to make for the next week, but not always. If I am in need of inspiration, I’ll look through my kitchen to see what I have and hope inspiration comes. If that fails, I will go through my cookbooks or favorite recipe websites. When I get cook books, I go through every recipe and flag any page with a recipe that looks good. Then I only have to go back through the flagged pages for future inspriation
Write it out!
I write down what I think I want to have for the week for each meal and snack – If you are feeding a family, this may take more time as you miss out on the boring convenience of eating the same thing for each meal for a week! I try to plan for meals and snacks that have some overlap of fresh ingredients so that I don’t end up with more perishable items than I’ll actually use for the week. Once I play around with my plan and feel good about it, I go through my kitchen again and figure out what I already have and what I need to get (including the amounts of everything!). Finally, I check for any items I use often that I may be low or out of and make sure to add those to my list!
Go buy everything you need! Stick to your list. If you can’t find an ingredient for a recipe, consider whether you can go without or find a simple substitute. Use those problem solving skills you learned in middle school math class! It’s also important to know yourself well. I have a tendency to think that I need far more fruits and veggies than I actually need, so I regularly practice talking myself out of buying some and the result is usually a good balance.
Some of my favorite go-to’s are:
Steel cut oatmeal for breakfast (add any variety of fresh, frozen, or dried fruits, your favorite nuts, and chia seeds! sometimes I like to add a little Shaklee 180 smoothie mix for sweetness and extra protein!)
Scrambled eggs with tomato and basil on a slice of wheat toast
Shaklee 180 protein smoothie
Sliced banana with your favorite nut butter
Salad (so many options!)
Mexican salad – quinoa or brown rice with cumin spiced black beans, corn, fresh pico de gallo, and avocado
Pasta salad with veggies and vinaigrette
Spaghetti squash with “meatballs”
Apple or banana and nut butter
Fresh fruit (whatever is in season!)
Shaklee 180 peanut butter snack bar
Trader Joe’s individual trail mix (simply cranberry, almond, cashew is my favorite!)
Veggies and hummus
I’ll cover more ideas in the future for things that allow for time saving preparation or are inherently quick and easy!
This is what part of a week of food prep looks like for me:
Washed and cut veggies for this week’s meals in my house:
My snack drawer – it’s helpful to have non-perishable snacks on hand!