Meal planning and food preparation tips

Meal Planning and Food Prepping Tips to Save You Time

One of the most common reasons I see people slip up on their healthy eating habits is because they don’t have the time or energy to keep up with it. Between work, kids, and other responsibilities, cooking is one more thing to add to your already lengthy to-do list. Eating healthy is essential for our physical and mental health and we are likely to perform at less than our best if we neglect it. If you don’t have a clear strategy in place to tackle meal planning and preparation, it can feel daunting to come up with a healthy meal in a pinch.

Plus, if you’re trying to figure out what to make when you’re already hungry, you’re more likely to choose a quicker option which often turns out not to be the healthiest.

In this article, you will discover:

  • Meal planning tips to save you time
  • Food preparation tips to simplify your life
  • Quick and easy meal ideas

Meal Planning Tips to Save You Time

Meal planning can save you a lot of time and last-minute scrambling when you’re busier throughout the week. I usually do it over the weekend when I have some extra free time. Whatever works best for your schedule, block out time in your calendar for meal planning and shopping each week to ensure it gets done. 

To begin your meal planning, come up with some recipes to make for the week based on meals you’ve made and enjoyed before, by perusing your favorite recipe books, downloading mine, or by researching healthy recipes online. Use this FREE meal planning tool to schedule and plan your meals for the week.

Once you’ve decided on which recipes to make, jot down the ingredients to create your shopping list. Check your pantry and fridge for ingredients you may already have, and you’re set – off to the store you go! 

Considerations to make: 

You don’t need to come up with a new original recipe for each day. For example, some people enjoy having the same breakfast every morning, so you can pick one or two breakfast recipes that you enjoy and put those on repeat. Or maybe you like to have a salad every day for lunch, great! Find a few protein, vegetable, seed, and nut variations you can add to your salad each day. so it’s easy to put together while still including variety.

You can double up some of the recipes so you’re making enough for two nights in a row, or you can use the leftovers for lunches. 

Another time-saving tip is to use meal planning ‘pillars’ each week. For example, each week, plan to include a soup, roasted meat, slow cooker, vegetable, and/or an egg dish on your menu. By sticking to certain meal categories as you plan your meals each week, you’re still able to add variety to your diet without having to come up with something completely new every week. 

Food preparation tips to simplify your life

You can use a few approaches to streamline your food preparation, and which you choose will depend on how much time you have on your hands.

If you have very limited time to cook during the week, but you have ample free time on weekends, you may want to batch prep and cook the majority of your meals for the week over the weekend.

For example, you can prepare large batches of roasted or steamed vegetables or other vegetable/salad sides that will last up to 3-5 days in the fridge. Similarly, you can batch cook egg breakfasts which will last up to 5 days. 

Batch cook proteins like chicken, beef, and pork, keeping in mind these will only be good for up to three days in the fridge so, you may want to schedule in a second day during the week, say Wednesday, to cook up additional protein for the remainder of the week. 

If you include grains in your diet, consider preparing a large batch of rice or quinoa (pseudo-grain) once a week to add to your meals.

Once you’ve cooked up batches of your favourite healthy foods for the week, portion them out into sealable glass containers you can store in the fridge. These are especially great for grab-and-go lunches! 

If you enjoy a daily smoothie, you can portion out the ingredients for each day into jars so that when you’re ready to make it, you just add your liquid and blend. 

So, what if you don’t have the time to batch cook for half a day over the weekend?

You’ll want to spread your food preparation throughout the week by keeping some quick and easy meal ideas handy. 

The oven and slow cooker are your friends! Roasting or slow cooking veggies and meats takes minimal effort on your part. All you need to worry about is the slicing, dicing, and seasoning while the cooking is done for you. Make enough food to last you and your family a couple of days for leftover lunches or dinner. 

Whenever you have time to cook, make a little extra to freeze; most meals can be stored in an airtight container for up to six months.

Quick and Easy Meal Ideas

Whether you prefer to batch cook or cook up quick meals throughout the week, these quick and easy meal ideas are great to get you started. 

  • BBQ protein and vegetables: If you have access to a grill, slice up some in-season vegetables and grill them up alongside proteins like chicken kebabs, fish, or steak. 
  • Prepare an omelette or frittata with your favorite fillings.
  • Stir fry some vegetables and top with a fried egg or two. 
  • Steam or microwave some frozen vegetables, add a protein, season with butter or olive oil
  • Pair a store-bought rotisserie chicken with some easy to cook (e.g. broccolini, asparagus, beans) roasted potatoes or a salad. 
  • Use pre-prepared zoodles or cauliflower rice as a base and cook with your favourite vegetables and sauce, such as tamari, or toss with some garlic, lemon, salt, and oil. Then, add a protein of choice.
  • Make lettuce wraps with leftover meat and some fresh tomato, avocado, and high-quality mayo. 
  • Slow cooker soup: add all your ingredients to a pot with some broth and let it simmer until done! 

Get even more quick and easy meal ideas here! 

Conclusion

With some planning and preparation, making healthy home-cooked meals is something anyone can do, no matter how busy your schedule is. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your health because you’re too busy juggling work, family, and the million other responsibilities you have on your plate. Remember, your physical health should come first as it sets you up to be more productive and successful in all other areas of your life. 

If you’re interested in learning more time-saving tips to streamline your meal planning and receiving recipes and tools that will help you overhaul your eating habits, I invite you to sign up for my complete approach to healthy eating.  You’ll receive my recipe eBook with 60+ healthy recipes plus a stack of tools, cheat sheets, and proven advice from an experienced health and wellness coach straight to your inbox for FREE! 

And if you’re looking for a more hands-on approach to help you create long-lasting healthy habits, you may want to consider my 1:1 wellness coaching, where I will provide you with tailored advice and support to help you achieve your goals. Book a discovery call with me to learn more! 

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