One of our goals for 2018 is to get better at meal planning and meal prepping. Because we cook most of the food we eat, we spend a lot of time in the kitchen and optimizing this will be both time and money saving.
Benefits of meal planning
1. It’s budget friendly
I dedicate a whole chapter to meal planning in my e-book, The Smart Girl’s Journey to Financial Bliss because it can cut your grocery shopping bill in half. You go to the supermarket with a list of items and the correct quantity you need to make the meals that you considered in advance. Not only you don’t buy random products, but you also save money by wasting less.
2. It’s healthy
If the food is already prepped, you’re going to eat it even if you’re having a bad day. Because it’s there.
When your meals are planned, you’re less likely to go and pick up a ready meal. And by cooking most of the foods you eat, you know exactly what they contain. Surely there’s less fat, less sugar and fewer preservatives.
3. It takes away the guesswork
“What should we eat today?”. Annoying, isn’t it? For me it is. It adds some stress into the day.
On the days when I have prepped food with me for lunch at the office, my lunch breaks are very different than they used to be. I go out for a 15-20 min walk that I enjoy instead of just going to the supermarket and browsing the aisles or just browsing the internet for something to order. My lunch only needs 1 min to reheat in the microwave, and I do whatever I please with the rest of my break hour.
How to meal prep
We all have different lifestyles, different family sizes and different eating patterns, so there’s no right way that works for everyone. However, here are a few ideas that might help you get started.
1. Theme days
No meat Mondays, taco Tuesdays, pasta Wednesday, etc. You have different meals on each day, but the themes are the same each week.
2. Batch cooking
You cook one single meal that lasts for 2-3 days in a row and then cook the next. Batch cooking is great when you either have a surplus of an ingredient, or there’s an offer at the supermarket. For example, if you catch a weekend when the mushrooms are 50% off, you can buy a lot and cook enough to eat for a few days.
3. Sunday meal prep – our favourite
We have a look at what’s available in the fridge/freezer/cupboards and settle on 2-3 different meals that we cook on Sunday morning and split into ten portions. That will make five lunches for both Alin and I for the entire working week.
A great benefit of meal prepping? Not only you don’t need to cook for another week, but you only need to CLEAN the cooker ONCE.
I have a separate board for Meal Planning, but the whole platform is a huge recipe book. If you have an ingredient that you don’t know what to make with or need inspiration, Pinterest is the place to browse.
2. The 28 Day Reset is a 28-day meal plan that helps you find intolerances and gets you back on track if your eating hasn’t been the healthiest lately. I used it together with the PIIT28 exercise plan and lost 3.5kg (7.7 pounds) in 28 days. The meal plan is also great if you’re just turning vegan and don’t know what to cook, as it has a vegan version.
3. The Ultimate Healthy Meal Planning Bundle
Choose between budget meals, gluten-free, keto, quick and easy, vegan, freezer and batch cooking, or get them all! The Healthy Meal Planning bundle has got your back! Recipes and printables, everything you need to be on top of things in the kitchen.
It’s only available until the 5th of January, so make sure you don’t miss it!
I’m very proud that I started my new year with cooking and prepping my lunches for the entire week. It’s one of those small things that can have a big impact! Now I can go ahead and focus on what’s important, instead of constantly thinking “what should I eat today?”.
Do you meal plan? Do you have any tips or resources to share?