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Meal Planning Tips from a Registered Dietitian

I’m here to drop a little motivation on MEAL PLANNING TIPS! Some love it, some hate it, but most people who loathe it just aren’t doing it right. Meal planning has some HUGE perks once you get the hang of it. A few include:

  • Decreases your stress throughout the week
  • Saves you $$$
  • Helps you and your family eat healthier
  • Allows for flexibility
Photo of healthy meal prep

The basics for meal planning can be broken down into 3 easy steps.

  1. Gather recipes
  2. Go to the grocery store
  3. Prep your meals

And that’s it! No more work required! Sort of… okay just kidding… But let’s break each of these steps down a bit further so you know just how easy this process can be.

Gathering Recipes

In order to meal prep, you have to have some idea of what you’re going to eat throughout the week. One of my next meal planning tips is to take some time on the weekend, or even throughout the week, to gather some recipes and start planning out your meals for the week. You can gather inspiration from cookbooks, cooking shows, family members, friends, blogs, Pinterest, or wherever else you find inspiration! Just find some recipes and write down your meals somewhere. I’m cheap and don’t like to pay for phone apps, so I literally type out my meal plan on a Word document. You can have some fun with your meal planning too! A couple of creative ideas might include:

  • having a family member decide one meal per week (family of 4 = 4 meals! – you’re practically done!)
  • try different cultural dishes (Mexican, Korean, Spanish, French, or whatever floats your boat!)
  • pick meals based on the weather (soups and chili in the fall, grilled veggies and salads in the summer)
  • find recipes made with ingredients that are in season (check out my blog and follow me on Instagram for the latest on seasonal recipes!)
  • base meal ideas on what is already in your refrigerator (am I the only one who ALWAYS has celery in the refrigerator??)

Once you’ve gathered all of your recipes, take a little bit of time to write down the ingredients you need and add it to your grocery list. I have no affiliations and I’m not going to act like I’m super fancy with my apps. I use a very basic (and free) app to write my grocery list call GroceryIQ. You just type in what you want, and it organizes it by category (produce, frozen, meats, etc.).

Go to the grocery store (or shop online!)

We have SO many options for grocery shopping nowadays. Want to go to the store? Great! Don’t want to go to the store? You still have plenty of options! I can’t speak for everyone or every service, but we personally use Amazon Fresh or we will go to Aldi for most of our grocery shopping. Depending on our menu, sometimes we’ll hit Kroger, Trader Joe’s, or our local farmers markets for more specialized ingredients.

So whether you hit the store in-person or online, there is one big piece of advice I’ll give…

STICK TO YOUR GROCERY LIST!!!!

That is if budget and refrigerator space are not a top priority. If you have no budget and a giant fridge, then have at it! Spend to your sweet heart’s content!

I’m guilty of meandering through the aisles and picking up random things that I don’t really need, but could be fun to experiment with. And as a result, I tend to lean toward online grocery shopping more because I’m forced to look for a certain item and can’t peruse the store for dumb things I don’t need. We all have our systems, so figure out what works for you.

Prep your meals

Now it’s time to do a little front work to make your life easier for the week. One thing I want to clarify with meal prepping is that you don’t actually have to fully prep every single meal for the entire week on a Sunday. If that’s what you want to do, then knock yourself out. Meal prep can be done in batches or it may simply be cutting up some foods to make prep a little easier during the week. For example…

  • cook large batch of brown rice to use throughout the week in meals or as a side dish
  • chop or shred a head of cabbage for an easy topping for tacos, a quick cole slaw, or easy addition to sautéed veggies
  • cut open pomegranates to remove arils for easy use in yogurt, on top of salads, or to eat by the spoonful!
  • make large batch of chicken salad for an easy grab-and-go snack or a simple addition to lunch
  • rinse and separate fruits and veggies into freezer bags for individual smoothie portions or for easy breakfast
Picture of rinsing herbs in a colander

So how’s that for your meal planning tips? Have some other tips in mind that work well for you? Comment below!

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