Here are 13 tips I share with my clients to help them get into the habit of meal planning.

  1. Have go-to meal ideas so you’re not constantly thinking about what to make the moment you need to cook. Collect and store recipes from cookbooks, passed along from friends and family, pinterest pages, and food bloggers you like. Create a list, notebook, or a spreadsheet of meal, snack ideas, including go-to, healthy eating out spots. 
  2. Set aside 30 min 1-2x each week to sit down, plan meals, and make a grocery list based on this go-to list. Some people like doing this on Sundays and Thursdays.
  3. Waste not. Use up what you have in your pantry or refrigerator first. Build meals around those items 
  4. Factor in your schedule and plans for the week. Be realistic. If you’re traveling or too busy too cook, plan meals that can be quickly re-heated, choose your pre-approved healthy eating out spots, or plan on a healthy meal delivery service. 
  5. Write your menu down and post it in plain view (calendar, piece of paper, chalkboard). 
  6. Batch cook. Maximize your time in the kitchen by picking a day to batch cook a few key items, such as: a pot of soup and then simpler items you can repurpose throughout the week such as: make 1 batch of whole grains, 2 proteins (a slow cooker or roasted chicken, a pot of beans); 1 dish of roasted squash or root veggies; chop veggies needed for a recipe later in the week. 
  7. Use cooking methods that make your life easier, like a slow cooker, an Instapot, and one-pan recipes. 
  8. Double recipes. Plan to enjoy left overs. And do not overcook food. Freeze extras for another day. 
  9. Keep it varied so you don’t get bored or burnt out. Change up your sauces and salad dressings, your grains from brown rice to wild rice, or quinoa to millet; try swiss chard in place of kale; play with spices. Cut vegetables into different shapes. 
  10. Recruit the help of those partaking. Buy frozen or pre-chopped items, as needed. 
  11. Materials: Get a good quality, sharp chef’s knife. Invest in BPA-free plastic, glassware, or mason jars to be able to package foods for quick -grab snacks and lunches. Make it easy to see your food in the fridge and grab it to-go. 
  12. Stock your pantry with staples and your other food stashes to have healthy options/snacks on hand. Create an environment that helps you succeed by having healthy options around you.
  13. Be flexible. Life happens!