“But what do you want for dinner?”
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t realize that the majority of adulting was answering the question “what am I having for dinner?” while also trying to incorporate healthy eating along the way. Don’t fret, there is an answer, and its called meal planning.
If you are worrying about how to eat healthy and having to come up with dinner ideas for more than one person, I don’t have to tell you how exhausting and time consuming it is just to literally decide on what you’re eating for meals.
I specify dinner for the majority of this blog post because that’s where my mental capacity really gets drained, and I feel like I’m not alone in that.
Breakfast is kind of like weird components that are usually easily available, like eggs, bread, cereal, fruit etc. AND some people don’t even eat breakfast, so that’s like one less thing to worry about – kind of joking but also not really.
Then there’s lunch, which is also kind of like breakfast in that there’s easy components you can grab like cut veggies & dips, sandwiches, cheese & crackers etc, but theres also the other side of it: dinner leftovers.
Isn’t it one of the best feelings in the world when you’re just HUNGRY and want something thats actually good for you, and you have leftovers that just require you to heat (or mix) and serve?! You get this like weird excitement because you know that not only will you be able to eat in about 1.5 microwave minutes (like real minutes but longer.. Sort of like plank minutes) but that you’re also one step ahead of the game because you’re saving money.
SO, how do we get this type of weird excitement in our lives? We plan, and prep.
And hold up, before you click away, don’t get overwhelmed! Meal planning and prepping can look a lot different than you think. You don’t need to have small black containers that look identical and are mostly full of broccoli. And you don’t need to spend a ton of time OR money to eat well and have some delish meals in your fridge or freezer.
You just need to spend 30 mins a week planning, and a few hours a week cooking to give yourself so much time and energy back.
Did you know decision fatigue is a thing? When you take away the constant need to figure out what the hell you’re having for dinner next, you’ll actually have so much more energy. And you know what you can do with that energy? Literally anything else because you’ll have the time.
Here are a few easy ways that I make meal planning easy and actually manageable:
- Fibre + Veggie + Protein + Fat = Meal. Making sure you’re getting all your macronutrients (and fibre) in most meals is essential to balanced, healthy eating.
- Use ingredients I have on hand first. Doing this saves me money, and gives me direction on where to take the meal
- Keep it simple – recipes and cooking methods. when you start to try and get fancy while putting the pressure on yourself to cook, things can get overwhelming. save the chef style recipes and experimenting for weekends & when you have more time on your hands.
- Be prepared: Clean and organize your kitchen before cooking. Starting from a clean slate always makes everything seem easier & more manageable. We tend to get flustered with clutter and mess, and you need space to cook. If your kitchen is always clean & organized, then BLESS you and msg me on tips on how to keep it that way.
- Cook components + make into meals throughout the week. prepare components separately like grains or pasta, roasted veggies, grilled lean meats and mix and match them for easy meals that seem a bit more unique.
- Batch cook at the start of the week for easy meals. work smart, not hard. If you already have dishes out and are in meal making mode, its easy to extend your cooking time into making more than one meal (or make components) so you’ll save time throughout the week. You can even prep part of your meal and make the other components (like a salad) the day of to keep things fresh.
- Freeze leftovers for healthy re-heatble meals. theres no hiding it, we all love a good freezer meal. Hello that Michaelinas mac and cheese?? but for real, having accessible meals in your freezer will save you money(no takeout), reduce food waste (freeze leftovers) AND make your life easy (reheat and eat).
- Prep and cut veggies and fruit for snacks. Staying on theme of making things easy and accessible, we need to make eating veggies accessible. Unless you’re part of the 3% of people in the world who just LOVES veggies- theres a bit of effort needed. Buy a cut veggie tray, or save some $ and make your own. You’ll be surprised at how much more you eat veggies when they’re easy to grab.
- Pre-make salad dressings + dips (like my easy green marinade for tacos, find it here). saves you money, and eliminates a lot of processing. Sure, pre-made salad dressings and marinades and dips have their place, BUT whenever possible i try to make my own. I like doing this because I know whats going into it and feel more comfortable eating it. PLUS theres no gross preservatives or overload of sodium – aka less bloating 😉
As you can see, meal planning does take a bit of effort- there’s no hiding that. BUT once you have a system set up, you’ll notice how much less stressed you are about meals, and how much time you’re saving.
There’s so many more ways that you can use meal planning and prepping to make your life easier, and I would LOVE if you had any to add to my list – email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to send me your tips. Or comment on my latest IG post here!
So what are you waiting for?!
Get out there and start planning some meals.
P.S. If you’re stumped for recipes or looking for some new ways to use up those pantry items.. Check out my FREE Pantry Item Meal Guide. You’ll get a 7 day meal plan, recipes, food list and tons of extra tips in your prep guide.
Get your copy here!