Let's face it. Life gets busy and cooking at home can be tough. Whether you work unusual hours, play quidditch several times a week or your kids are monsters at mealtimes, cooking at home may feel daunting, stressful and sometimes impossible. Meal planning takes work. But those who've mastered it know it's the key to saving money, eating healthier and feeling your best.
Here are our top tips on meal planning like a pro.
1. Consult your schedule.
Think about what you have going on next week. This will give you a sense of how much time you have on which days to prep and cook. Make note of any events that may affect your meals. This might include late hours at the office, your kid's Krav Maga class, long night shifts, or a planned dinner outing with friends.
2. Find recipes that work for you.
Depending on your upcoming events, pick recipes that will work for you. If you have a busy week coming up, focus on recipes that take less than 30 minutes to make, can be prepared ahead of time, or can last several meals (e.g. crock pot recipes). Save leftovers from dinner for lunch the next day. Choose recipes that share the same ingredients to shorten your grocery list and possibly cut down on prep work.
Check out Cooking and Clean Eating For One for more great tips.
I love making a large batch of green smoothies or overnight oats for my work days and saving the more time-consuming recipes for my days off.
Click here to add this recipe to your meal planner
3. Grocery shop like a pro.
Choose specific days every week to meal plan and grocery shop. Before you head to the grocery store, be sure to have a list ready. Make your shopping trip more efficient by organizing your items into categories such as fruits, vegetables, frozen, canned, etc.
We find meal planning on Saturdays and grocery shopping on Sundays works best for us. One thing I can't live without is having my grocery list auto-generated for me :)
4. Buddy up.
You're not alone on this! Find a friend or involve your partner to help choose recipes, grocery shop and prepare meals with. Turn to our awesome That Clean Life community for helpful tips and popular recipe suggestions, or join in on our monthly clean eating challenges.
5. Don't forget the why.
Truly think about why meal planning is important to you. Your reasons might include weight loss, better skin, improved gastrointestinal symptoms or saving money. You might simply want to feel better, less irritable and more patient with those around you. Dig deeper. You might be thinking about illness prevention for not only yourself but for the ones you love as well. You could be planning for pregnancy or wondering how to best role model healthy eating habits for your children.
Whatever your reasons, don't lose sight of them. They're essential to your success.
6. Take it easy.
You do not have to change your entire life all at once. Take small steps toward better food choices. Go at your own pace and be gentle with yourself. Remember that no one is perfect and everybody’s journey looks different.