If you've ever tried to meal plan but found yourself with an empty fridge mid-week, grumpily snacking on whatever you were able to scrounge together -- we've been there and we're here for you. When done right, meal planning is a great way to simplify cooking, to save money and to enjoy nourishing meals on a regular basis.
But it can certainly come with its hiccups along the way. So we're here to demystify the process and make eating healthful meals all week easy and fun.
1. Start with simple recipes
In order to build a habit of cooking regularly, we need to start as close to where we currently are as possible. Think about what meals you already know how to prepare easily and begin there.
Next, gently expand your horizons to recipes with simple ingredients. If you have to track down 4 new spices and 2 sauces for a single recipe — you're going to drive yourself crazy! Keep it simple by looking for recipes with ingredients you know and you can always expand from there. If you need a little inspiration, here are a few of our favourite simple recipe websites:
And of course these are just the tip of the iceberg. When you find a recipe you really enjoy, have a look around the website for others. You'll quickly build up a repertoire of resources to turn to when you need a meal idea.
2. Stock your fridge, freezer and pantry
An organized, well-stocked kitchen makes for a much easier cooking experience. The first thing to do is to eliminate items you aren't going to use. Have a jar full of sunflower seeds but you hate sunflower seeds? Or a condiment you grabbed on impulse but have no interest in using? It's time to clear them out. Toss, give away, or donate (as appropriate), any items that you aren't likely to, or excited to, use.
Next, begin stocking your fridge, freezer and pantry with items you actually will use. Chia pudding or oatmeal, for example, make for easy, versatile breakfasts. So stock up on ingredients like oats, chia seeds, nuts and berries. If you need a little help getting stocked up, check out this Pantry Guide from Tasty Thrifty Timely for some of the items that can be most helpful to have on hand.
And don't forget about your freezer! Frozen fruits and vegetables are a great way to ensure you have an extra boost of nutrition on hand when you need it. You can buy them frozen at the store or buy extras fresh and freeze what you don't use for the future.
3. Consider all meals and snacks
At the start of the week, take a few minutes to sit down and plan out each meal. Is a certain recipe likely to provide leftovers for lunch the next day? Or will you need to have something ready for mid-day? Is there a night you're planning to go out for dinner and won't need to cook? Creating an overall picture will help ensure you have enough meals planned out and don't find yourself with an empty fridge mid-week.
Finally, be sure you plan for some snacks too. A meal might be too light or we might be unusually hungry one day and having some healthful snacks we can turn to is key.
4. Be patient
Most importantly, remember that building a habit like meal planning takes time. Be patient with yourself as you transition. There will be days or weeks things don't go according to plan. Remain curious about what you could have done differently and try to do so the next time. Progress not perfection is what it's all about!
If you're all about doing things more efficiently and making life easier, consider booking our Boost Your Productivity While Working From Home Workshop for you and your team. In it you'll learn more about meal planning as well as the many other strategies that can simplify your days and help you get more done (without losing your mind!) Fill out the contact form at the bottom of this page to learn more.