I came home a little grumpy the other night, not in the mood to do all of the “adult” things I needed to do. The bathroom needed to be cleaned, laundry needed to be done, and I still hadn’t done my workout for the day. Oh, and I still didn’t meal plan or make a grocery list for the week. So naturally, when I’m feeling grumpy about such things, I kind of complain about them to my husband.
As I was listing out all of the tasks I needed to get done, my husband made a comment to me that, in his sweet way, was actually a compliment. “Babe,” he said, “you can meal plan in like, 15 minutes. That shouldn’t take long.”
I mean, he’s right. I’ve done this meal planning and prepping thing week after week after week, so by now it’s sort of second nature. I know exactly how many meals to plan for, know my pantry by heart, and can have a grocery list ready in no time. It’s all because of a particular formula I developed to make this process smoother, which I’ve decided to share with all of you. The knowing my pantry thing is a testament to how many hours I spend making meals, which I’m sorry to say is a skill you develop over time.
Planning meals, however, can be a quick and easy thing you can do right now. So grab your agenda, your journal, or even your phone, and jot down this week’s meals using my formula below.
Plan one breakfast “snag”
If you guys have been following me for a while, you know I love me some breakfast “snags.” A breakfast snag is something that you can easily snag in the morning when you’re heading out the door. This isn’t something you have to cook up in the morning, but simply an item that’s been sitting in your fridge or pantry.
Some of my favorite breakfast snags include:
- Overnight oats
- Yogurts with my homemade granola (or walnuts)
- Hard-boiled eggs (using my egg cooker!)
- Apple or banana with a peanut butter packet
- Oatmeal packets (I love RX Bar’s oatmeal!)
- Chia seed pudding
- Breakfast cookies
- Mini muffins (prepped at home!)
Plan your lunchbox
While making a meal plan and cooking full meals for lunches can be fun, it takes up a lot of time. That’s why I keep things simple with my lunchbox formula! I pick one type of carb (usually a whole grain), one protein, one vegetable, and one healthy fat. It’s like your very own adult Lunchable! Make sure to buy enough for one week of lunchboxes.
Click here my lunchbox cheat sheet—including a list of food items you can buy!
Plan three dinners
I know some meal prep masters love to have one dinner for the whole week, but after eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day, I like to switch things up. That’s why I plan out three dinners each week! This means I only have to cook three times that week, eating the leftovers from those meals the other three nights.
Obviously, the meals can vary based on what you feel like eating (follow me one on Pinterest for dinner ideas!) But if you need some meal ideas right away, here are a few right here from my blog.
Some of my dinner recipes:
Plan one snack
This doesn’t just mean one snack for one time, this means a snack to enjoy each day of the week! Similar to how you grabbed a breakfast snag, grab something you can snack on as well. I tend to crave a snack around 3 or 4 p.m. every day, which is one of the body cues I’ve learned about myself. So I have a smaller meal—usually involving something fatty to make me feel full until dinner.
Some snack ideas I like include:
- 1 cup bell peppers with 2 tablespoons guacamole
- 1 cup celery with 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- Rice cake with 1 tablespoon peanut butter and 1/2 cup blueberries
- 1 cup carrots with 1 ranch dip packet (I love these!)
- Hippeas, especially the Vegan White Cheddar
- Cheese whips, I love their Asiago & Pepper Jack
- Snap pea crisps, similar to these
- Yogurt with berries (if I didn’t have it for breakfast)
- Fruit & nut bars (I’m obsessed with Larabars!)
Plan one dessert
Yep, you got that right! I’m a huge fan of having dessert every day because it means staying on track with my calorie goals. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but when I started allowing myself to actually eat the food I love (ice cream) every day, it was easier to say no to snacks or treats at work. So I usually grab a tub of ice cream or some other dessert around 150 calories. Here’s a list of some of my favorites!
Now, make a meal plan
Evaluate what you just planned and if you need any extra ingredients before you cook. I bet you already have some of the foods that you need (like spices, oils, maybe even some eggs). There’s no need in buying it if you already have it!
Here’s an example of my meal plan from this week:
- BREAKFAST: Yogurts with walnuts
- LUNCH: 2 hard-boiled eggs, 1 serving pretzels, 1 cup celery, 1 ranch packet
- DINNERS: Enchiladas, Sausage & Peppers, Breaded Chicken with Roasted Vegetables (all recipes from my cookbook!)
- SNACK: Rice cake with peanut butter and blueberries
- DESSERT: Ice cream <3
And there you have it! Now I won’t claim that it will take you 15 minutes every time, the timing takes practice. But once you have a wheelhouse of meals you like to cook, planning out meals will get easier and easier. Soon, it should only take you 15 minutes. Or, some days, 10 or 5.
Don’t feel like looking for meals?
Don’t want to have to dig for meal ideas? My cookbook not only has meal ideas for you but has THREE MONTHS of plans already done—including grocery and pantry lists! Click the button below to grab it today.