Meal Planning Made Easy: Step 1…Get Inspired!

This is the first in a series of three posts about my top tips for meal planning. Planning our meals is one of the keys to eating healthy, saving time and money, and taking the stress out of mealtime!

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We have lots of priorities and commitments that demand our time, attention, and energy, but we only have so much we can do in one day.

It can be easy to let something like food slip into the lower level of those priorities, especially if we associate it with being stressful and having to do more work.

A recent study found that 85% of people said eating a healthy dinner was important to them, despite the fact that fewer than 50% were reaching that goal.

Easy healthy dinner idea!

Easy healthy dinner idea!

So, where’s the disconnect?

We’re not cooking...

But why?

Many people don’t cook because they don’t think they can, others rely on a partner who does all the cooking, some hate cleaning up the mess or say they don’t have time to cook, and most think going grocery shopping takes too much time.

guy fieri

Let’s talk about time.

In 2013, the average American, regardless of weekly earnings, watched 2-3 hours of TV per day.

Hear me out on this one.

This isn’t about guilt, blame, shame, or condemnation – I’m never about those things on this blog. And I like watching Jimmy Fallon, The Voice, and Top Chef as much as the next person.

This is about taking a step back and being honest with ourselves. Here’s the reality:

If we want to have ENERGY, feel GREAT and be HEALTHY, then we have to make food a priority.

It’s not about having time, it’s about making time. Each of us has 24 hours each day – no more, no less.

The idea of meal planning initially SEEMS time intensive, but trust me, once you make it a habit, you will be amazed by how much money (AND time) you save, how much healthier you eat, and how calm and unstressful mealtime can become.

Remember, if food is what fuels and nourishes us throughout the day, and we want to feel energized, then taking ownership over what we eat by planning and preparing our meals is the #1 way to get there.

Inspired by The Kitchn, an awesome website for all things cooking, food, and tips and tricks, I want to share with you 3 keys to get you excited about meal planning!

  1. Get Inspired
  2. Get Organized
  3. Get To It

*Get Inspired*

1) Grab a cookbook! If you want to take the intimidation factor of meal planning and cooking down a notch, just use ONE cookbook to pull recipes from instead of spending hours searching online. Five Below often has great deals on Paleo and other healthy cookbooks.

Take Action: Here’s a post I wrote about some of my top picks for healthy & delicious cookbooks.

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2) Use recipe templates. The Environmental Working Group and a grad student from NYU have created two handy guides that you can use to find healthy recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. What I like about templates is that they give us flexibility and can take some of the stress out of cooking for fear we will “mess up.”

Take Action: Click here to go to the full post I wrote about eating healthy on a budget to access the 2 FREE guides or click on the links below:

Good Food on a Tight Budget Recipes

Eat Well on $4/Day: Good & Cheap Guide

3) Pin It! If you like Pinterest (it took me awhile to warm up to it), that can be a great place to go for inspiration and specific searches.

Some of my top words and phrases to search on Pinterest are: “paleo,” “dairy-free,” “vegan,” “gluten-free,” and “clean eating” plus whatever ingredient I want to use or cuisine I’m in the mood for (i.e., Mexican, Indian, Chinese, etc.). Anything that is paleo or vegan will, by definition, be dairy-free, too (except butter, the paleo way of eating includes grass-fed butter).

Take Action: Click here to follow my boards on Pinterest!

pinning recipes

4) Make It FUN and follow a theme. Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Wacky Wednesday (Viking Night – eat with your hands!), Take Out Fake Out Thursday (stir fry, make your own healthy pizza station, make your own salad station), Fish or Fiesta Friday, Souper Saturday, and Casserole or Crockpot-Style Sunday are just a few ideas to get you started.

Take Action: Pick ONE theme idea that appeals to you. Try it out next week and see how you like it!

Come back tomorrow as I share my top tips to help you “Get Organized” as well as my FAVORITE meal planning tool and how you can get it free for 30 days! 

Which of these ideas is most helpful to you? I’d love to hear from you!

Previous

Hearty Black Bean & Rice Stew {Gluten-Free, Vegan}

Next

Meal Planning Made Easy: Step 2…Get Organized

2 Comments

  1. Kayla

    This post is right on the money! If I don’t meal plan, we end up eating quick, processed food so meal planning is important to me. What I usually do to save money is look at our area grocery sales for the week and base my menus on what’s on sale. When there is a really good sale, I stock up. Also, some women collect shoes, I collect cookbooks! I also think it’s important to have a couple of “no-brainer” easy healthy recipes in case for some reason the meal plan has to change. Thanks for your post and the great suggestions!

    • Hey, Kayla! So glad you like the post! I love your idea of looking at your grocery sales that week to serve as the base for your plans – a great way to save even MORE money meal planning 🙂 Haha. I totally am with you on the shoes and cookbooks comment, too. Sometimes I tell myself I can’t get a new cookbook until I’ve made more recipes from the ones I already have, but it’s kind of an addiction…Love the idea of having some “no brainer” recipes. For us, it’s usually a stir fry, a quick bean or lentil soup or a veggie frittata. Thanks again for your comments and ideas – I think you will like today’s post, too!

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