We’ve all heard of meal planning and/or meal prepping. Even if you havent heard the terms explicity, I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of someone’s meal prep for the week on facebook or instagram right?
Yupp- I’m guilty of it too!! While the phrases are often used synonomously, I think it is important to dinstinguish between the two for a few reasons. You can plan your meals for the week and still end up spending 2 hours each day cooking if you don’t prep (that’s 10-14 hours a week!). Conversely, you can spend a 3-4 hours one day a week prepping food items in bulk yet suffer from descision fatigue when you need to choose multiple meals each day from the prepped food items. I know this can seem like a frivilous first world problem, but even Obama admits:
“You’ll see I wear only grey or blue suits. I’m trying to pair down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing because I have too many other decisions to make” -Obama
Therefore, the struggle is real- and is illustrated in the venn diagramm below:
This is where organization comes to the rescue! By adding a few organizional hacks to your routine you can add more free time to your week for the activities and people you care about most.
- Create a running list of your typical groceries in your phone. Share access to the list with others in the household who need it.
- Before going to the grocery store:
- Check your fridge and cabinets to update your grocery list
- Plan your dinner meals for the week and add any items you will need to your grocery list
- Stick to the plan! I know it’s hard but stick to the list and only buy what you need for that week if possible. It prevents a lot of food waste (especially with fruits & fresh food) and helps your budget.
Meal Planning Tips
- Select 3-4 breakfast choices. For example, my personal favorites are a breakfast fruit smoothie, egg & avocado toast and overnight oats (pictured above).
- Select 3-4 lunch and snack options you enjoy that fit your dietary needs. It is easy to choose between a few items yet still provides variety, which doesn’t leave you eating the same meal for lunch all week like some plans. (Remember to add the supplies for them on your grocery list). I suggest you rotate in new lunch options about 1-2x a month.
- Decide on 4-5 square dinner meals for the week and plan to eat leftovers twice a week. I recommend rotating in new dinner meals each week but you may have a few favorites you want to stick with like Taco Tuesday or Meatless Mondays, etc.
Meal Prepping Tips
- Dedicate one 4-5 hour block of time a week to grocery shopping AND meal prepping. Yes do them back to back! Pick any day of the week that works for your schedule.
- While meal items are cooking on the stove, portion and package lunches and snacks for the week
- Designate an area of the fridge for each individuals food and snacks to go. This makes it easier for adults and kids to grab what they need and know what options they have at a glance. Bins work great for kids and can help them learn to make their own lunches.
Let us know which tips work out best for your household!
Do you have any tips for meal prep and planning? Please share them below.