Health & Wellness - Meal Planning 101

Courtney Rupertus
Health & Wellness - Meal Planning 101

If there is any new habit to incorporate into your fall routine, let meal planning and prepping be one of them. It’s a sure-fire way to ensure you and your family are eating healthy throughout the week.

Like food journaling, it can seem like extra work, but meal planning helps you stay on track when it comes to your weekly budget and your nutrition, as well as making life easier during the week when it seems like you are rushing from one thing to the next.
Your tired self will thank you mid-week when you can just pull something out of the fridge for supper instead of resorting to cold cereal or takeout.
Pick a day on the weekend to dedicate to preparing for the week ahead. You may decide you like to do everything on one day, or split up the planning and shopping from the actual prep work.
You will also have to decide on your strategy because everyone’s preferences are different. Some people choose to cook everything right then and there, and simply store in the fridge and freezer so all it takes is a warm-up to get supper on the table, while others batch-cook the major items like veggies, grains, and protein, such as roasting a chicken, leaving the final steps to just before the meal.
Now, we’ve broken down the big steps to make things simple and easy to follow!

Assess your week
Take a peek at your social calendar and decide how many meals you actually need. For example, you may know that you have dinner with the in-laws on Wednesday and brunch out with friends on Saturday, so no need to prep meals for these days. From there, work out a rough menu and grocery list for the week.

Get organized
Once you’re armed with your meal plan, go shopping for the things you’ll need for the whole week. You’ll also need to make sure you have all the food storage containers you’ll need before you start prepping: mason jars, freezer bags, Beeswax storage wrap, or freezer-safe Tupperware containers are all good options.

Prep your produce
No matter which strategy you’ve decided on, you can wash, chop, and roast pretty much all of your veggies ahead of time. Cut-up raw vegetables work well as snacks, in a salad, or just on the side of any meal. Roasted vegetables can be used directly in your meals, as a side dish, or used to create power bowls when combined with a lean protein, healthy grain, and a tasty sauce you like. Anything you don’t use can be thrown in a homemade soup at the end of each week.

Get cooking
Time-savers like cooked rice or quinoa, beans and chickpeas, or roast chicken can all be made on your meal prep day and used all week long. Use fresh for the first day or two, and throw the rest in the freezer to defrost just ahead of time. Make big batches as they can be left in the freezer for the next week or thrown into a soup.
Your meal prep day can also include making smoothie-packs that you can just chuck in the blender, or making hummus, pesto, or any other sauce you like to use.