8.14.18 | Photo Credit: Pexels
Are you someone who opens up the refrigerator after a long day and thinks, “What can I possibly throw together in 10 minutes or less?”
Or, “I really could use some takeout tonight!”
I hear you. That used to be me, too.
Planning meals ahead of time used to feel so daunting to me. But after four years of experimenting and learning, I’ve gotten it down to a quick process that takes me about 90 minutes total on a Sunday or weeknight.
Listen up…meal planning and prepping can save you money, food waste and a whole lot of time and stress. And I’m going to show you the exact process I use every week to create delicious, healthy meals that save me at least three hours a week.
All you’ll need is a piece of paper or my meal prepping template, a pen and this article. By the time we’re finished, you’ll be able to plan meals that are deliciously balanced, to spend less money eating out and to rarely have food left over by Sunday (which helps save both money and food waste guilt!).
And no more asking, “What’s for dinner?”
Here are my three straightforward steps for easy grocery and meal prep:
1. CHECK OUT YOUR PANTRY, FRIDGE + FREEZER | Taking stock of what you already have will allow you to use these items first, saving you money and food waste. I usually have at least one produce item in my fridge or freezer that I can use for a recipe the upcoming week.
Go check your pantry right now…what fruits and veggies or other ingredients do you already have on hand that you can use for recipes this week?
2. PICK A FEW HEALTHY RECIPES THAT YOU CAN MAKE MULTIPLE SERVINGS OF | I use Pinterest, Instagram, recipe books, healthy blogs, nutrition plans, certain diets that I’m intrigued by, etc. I focus on fruits, vegetables and foods that occur in nature. As a certified health coach, I’m versed in over 100 dietary theories. But I’ve realized that sticking to whole foods and ingredients I naturally love bring me to my healthiest weight.
So, what delicious meals do you want to eat this week? Any special recipes you want to try, or go-to meals that you enjoy making? Review the recipe directions to see if there’s anything you can prepare in advance, e.g. chopping veggies for a stir fry.
3. MAKE A LIST, CHECK IT TWICE | Another great money, time and food saver is to go in with a grocery list. If you go into your health food store with a list, you’ll be less likely to find yourself in the snack aisle, letting your cravings do the shopping for you.
If you’re a first time meal prepper, start small. Simply chop your produce after you bring your groceries home. Taking 15 minutes in one feel swoop will save you time throughout the week and brain power, too. Always remember: this isn’t about over planning. Enjoy your food, and the time you’ll save by thinking ahead.
Let me know in the comments: how will you use these tips to save time, money, stress and food waste? Do you have any meal prep tips you’d like to add to the list? I can’t wait to hear!
Lauren Stickney is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach who can be found cozied up in Atlanta’s coffee shops, perusing the local farmer’s market, crushing meal prep, and reminding women and girls that their health can be the vehicle to a happier life. Lauren serves those who are inspired for more: more confidence, energy, can’t-stop-smiling happiness. They’re the go-getters, the “no-excuses” type… but are also prone to burn-out. She provides women the tools to clean up their diet, ditch the food guilt, reach their goal weight and feel energized. For free resources, visit Lauren’s website. To chat with her, head to her latest Instagram post.