Are you guys meal prepping on the weekends? I swear, if there's one habit to master that could move the dial the most on your health and money savings, it would be meal planning and prepping.
Is it a struggle for you to plan meals in advance? Well, you're in good company. Most people don't think ahead about weekly grocery lists, recipe planning and food prepping. No wonder food and groceries are some of our biggest household expenses. But we can change that by just making a little time to plan ahead. Here’s a quick time saver if you find the whole process overwhelming:
A Simple Trick to Make Meal Planning, Simple
Sit down on Sundays and plan your week. A whiteboard (or blackboard) in the kitchen can make your life more manageable. On your board, draw a line down the middle. Down the one side, write your meals for the week, so everyone in the family can and know what to expect (this avoids grips and complaints once the food is on the table). On the other side, keep a running tally of things you’re running out of. Anyone can add to this list throughout the week. When you go shopping, take a picture of your list, so you know what you need.
If you prefer to plan digitally (as I do), create a template to plan your meals and an ongoing grocery list that you can add to the minute you notice you're out of something in your kitchen. I like using Google Keep for my grocery lists as you can access the free app from your mobile devices and desktop. A simple Google Sheet is a perfect way to plan out your meals so you can see them all on one page and edit as needed. You can also share it with your family so they can weigh in on the meal choices or let you know if they'll be missing any of your family dinners.
How to Find Meal Planning Inspiration
If you’re stumped for what to make every week, have a couple of go-to recipes on rotation that are easy to make and always crowd pleasers. Add a casserole that you can make in advance and once a week to try something new. Scour Pinterest for ideas on low carb, gluten-free dishes, particularly dinners as they are generally the hardest to plan. While you're at it, I've got a great Pinterest board on meal prep and meal plan ideas that will get you started!
Meal prep does take time, but it also saves time because you're only making a mess in the kitchen once (instead of every night), so it evens out in the end. Beyond saving time, cooking in large batches saves money and reduces the risk of indulging in unhealthy foods. So give it a go and try to make it fun by sharing the experience with your kids or listening to your favorite podcast (that’s what I do).
Does Meal Planning and Prepping Leave you Overwhelmed?
Okay, I just listed off three great reasons for planning and prepping your meals every week, but here's the truth - even though I know it's an incredibly smart practice, I still struggle to do it consistently. The trouble is that I find food planning very overwhelming and I worry that I'll end up making a bunch of food that I won't feel like eating. Can you relate?
I think the best way to avoid wasting time, energy and a bunch of prepped food is to make things that can be frozen easily if they don't get eaten. To make the process of planning and prepping less overwhelming, this year, I'm going to focus on creating a system or workflow so it becomes a habit. I'm TERRIBLE at making systems and even worse at sticking to them, so I'm leveraging the benefits of the meal planning bundle that comes out on January 2nd. Seriously, I can use all the help I can get with this process.
If you're curious to see if what the meal planning bundle is all about, you can take the 5-day free breakfast prepping challenge and see if it makes the whole process a little less daunting. That's what I plan to do. Want to join me?
Caren is a certified yoga teacher, fitness instructor and author of The Fit Habit. Here she shares simple, low carb recipes, quick home workout ideas and practical ways to foster mind + body wellness.