Wellness

How To Start Meal Planning + Printable

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Last month, I introduced the Dreamers Planner Series to The Freebie Hub, for my August download I wanted to add one more for Meal Planning. For those of you just joining me, I started creating these free printable planners in order to get my life together. I’m going to be 29 in a month and I felt like I needed to take charge of my life. I needed to be an adultier adult that has her shit together. I’m kind of ashamed to say that I’ve been living as a college student for a while now, traveling instead of focusing on my business, eating basically garbage, drinking waaay to much and not really focusing on who I want to be on this next chapter of my life. Let’s just say it was a wake up call to see how my body is starting to change. Hangovers last for three days instead of hours, eating fried food wreaks havoc on my stomach and I’m starting to see fine wrinkles and gray hairs (le gasp!). Thus, I began planning! I want to be thirty flirty and thriving and in order to do so, I needed to start being intentional with what I do and living a more mindful life.

Which brings me to meal planning! I’ve never had a good relationship with food. I eat waaay to much pasta and then hate myself for it. The days I am able to be healthy are my most productive and joyful days. My goal is to start being healthier in every aspect of my life and taking charge. I promise to report back when I’m a month or two into this, but for now let me guide you through what I like to call: successful meal planning.

Meal Planning 101

So what is meal planning anyway? Basically its about having your food life sorted out for the week so that you don’t annoy your partner with the never ending quesiton: What do you want for dinner? You know what I’m talking about! Planning ahead makes it super easy to eat food you love that’s accessible, healthy and ready made. Let me break it down for you in three easy steps…

  1. Plan out what you want to eat (You can Pinterest this one!)
  2. Shop for your ingredients
  3. Prep! (Tupperware is your BFF, although I’m partial to Bento Boxes)

That’s it! In all honesty, it takes maybe half a day out of your week which is why I recommend doing this on a Saturday or Sunday. I like to prep my meals on a Sunday. Me and Keal (the hubs), usually sit in the morning with coffee, a good movie in the background and kinda just plan what meals we want to have during the week. Then we make a list of the ingredients to create those meals*, and then go shopping. We like doing it on a Sunday because its our lazy/errand day, so while we’re doing loads of laundry we take a quick escape to TJ’s to get our stuff.

*If you’re budget friendly like us, try planning meals where you use the same ingredients in different recipes to keep your grocery bill low.

Success Tools

I think that for a successful meal planning you need the right stuff. I’m talking about useful kitchen gadgets and worksheets. For us it was a game changer to invest in food-saver containers. We like to shop organic when possible and it doesn’t last long in our fridge so getting those containers saved us money in the long run. I also like to use bento boxes to pack lunch for Keal, he actually goes into an office and so prepping these in the fridge before hand makes it super easy for him to just grab and go.

If you’re going to do some batch cooking then you need the right tools like a crock pot if you don’t have one already, a nifty tool for cutting veggies in no time, basically whatever you think will help you prep like you’re Speedy Gonzalez. Here are my favorite to-go tools:

Whatever works for you and fits into your lifestyle, just be sure to be prepared. Finally, the pièce de résistance, some cool worksheets where you can plan your meals and shopping list. I used to do everything on spare paper and napkins and it ended up being a mess. Having something to hold you accountable that serves as a guide is crucial for a successful meal plan. I designed two meal planners, a big one for the whole week and a little one for weekdays to use as I need. You can download them by clicking below 👇

Success Recipes

Just like the success tools, you need to plan some success recipes. What I mean is, whatever your goal is: to eat healthier, loose weight, quick meals etc… pick the recipes that work for you. If you don’t want to get fancy because you have no cooking skills, then pick easy cold meals you can pack like sandwiches or wraps. If you want to make big batches of stews or curries that you can eat multiple times a day, or if you want to eat a different dinner each day, plan for that.

Whatever works for your goals and lifestyle, just make sure that its something that you’ll enjoy doing. For example, every Sunday I make a big batch of hummus that goes into multiple meals throughout the week. I use it as a snack with some pita chips, as a spread on a lunch wrap, and as a side on a buddha bowl. I honestly suggest to pick recipes that overlap each other, this will make for a much more efficient meal prepping day.

Shopping + Prepping

I find it so much easier to shop when I have a list that is organized and categorized like a grocery store. Things like, produce, pantry, protein (meat or tofu for my veggie friends), home, drinks etc… It may be my OCD but when you can see it clearly it makes your time shopping more efficient. If you go to Trader Joes then you know its a battle and its always packed so knowing what you’re getting ahead of time will make it easy to go in and out.

Once you have all your goodies, the fun begins! Honestly, its my favorite part. Cooking is just so soothing to me, I just put a movie in the background (almost always a Disney one) and go to town. I like doing big batch meals like a soup, multiple grains like brown rice and quinoa, roasted veggies, I put tofu to marinate in a bag… We do it as a family, we just chop and talk and a little wine goes a long way.

If you hate cooking just go in with a different mindset. Try to have fun, again wine helps, and cook away with a friend or partner and some tunes. Try to make it as joyful as you can. I know at first I hated cooking and now I truly do find it relaxing.

Planning for Wellness

I try to live very intentionally and take my wellness very seriously so meal planning was just something I had to add into my life. I wanted to take control of what I’m putting in my body as well as my lifestyle. It makes my life and kitchen so easy and sets up my week for success. I work from home so taking that time to cook a meal for myself was awful because I wanted to get back to designing and it was time consuming to create meals from scratch every day. I also wanted to stop doing frozen meals and take out, this was the best solution.

Every time you go through the process of meal planning you learn something new, like what not to do, where to improve, what you can skip, and how to customize to fit your needs and it really does get better so don’t worry if you completley fail the first time. I did! Now I’m fine tuning the process, hence the printable!

Remember why you’re doing it and you’re halfway there.

Have you ever meal prepped? What’s your secret? Do you love it? Hate it? Let me know in the comments!

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