5 Tips to Save Time When Meal Planning

We’ve all heard that in order to be successful in your health journey, you’ve got to be prepared and you’ve got to plan ahead. And drum roll please… it’s true! Preparation and consistency are probably the two most important keys to successful dieting. But there’s a misconception that meal planning and preparation must be time consuming, extensive, intensive, and downright exhausting. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t. Meal planning can be simple, streamlined, and even fun!

We are all busy with life, people, and tasks pulling us in a million different directions. I get it! Simplifying your meal planning system will not only take the pressure off, but you’ll still be able to reap the rewards of moving toward your goal while feeling the sense of peace that comes with being well-prepared. Take a deep breath and remind yourself, “I can do this.” Your goals are worth it. You are worth it. Remember that taking the time at the start of the week to prepare what you can in advance is going to save you time in the long run, but it’s also a task that you will benefit from physically and emotionally. Let’s get to simplifying!

5 Time Saving Meal Planning Tips:

Tip 1: Simplify.

You’re probably in your head right now thinking “Okay, how many recipes do I need? And what about servings? And what about my macros?! How do I choose recipes for my macros?!” and I want you to stop. There is no need to overcomplicate things. Start your meal planning process by selecting recipes with minimal ingredients. Use your favorite recipes (just try to choose the healthier ones!). Choosing recipes that you know how to make and feel confident with will make things so much simpler. If you want to try new recipes, try to limit them to 2-3 per week so that you aren’t feeling overwhelmed with new ingredients and processes. Over time you will find what works and what you love to eat. If you are a macro counter, don’t overwhelm yourself in the beginning with trying to make every meal hit your certain macros. Focus on prepping protein and nutrient dense meals and make your remaining macros fit around them.

Tip 2: Schedule time for meal planning and prep.

If it’s not on your schedule, it’s not going to happen. You have to make time in your planner or calendar to make your meal plan, buy groceries, and prep those groceries for the week. In the beginning this process will take more time, but as you get the hang of it you will learn how to streamline your planning, shopping, prep so that you’re saving time and energy. I promise, you’re going to save time and stress by taking 3-4 hours at the beginning of the week or on a Sunday to do this work for yourself. You are so so worth it.

Tip 3: Repeat meals.

Finding meals that you love and fuel your goals is key! The less you question “What should I eat?,” the easier meal planning will become. If you don’t currently have meals you love and are good for you, that’s okay. You’ll find them with time and experimentation. Another perk to repeating meals is that you will save money because you can purchase your ingredients in bulk wherever possible.

Tip 4: Get organized.

There are a few ways that you can simplify your process and stay organized when you’re planning and prepping. Use a meal planning notebook or spreadsheet to keep your week of meals at a glance. Sign up for my email list to download my free grocery list printable! Save time and energy by grouping your grocery list by grocery store department (Deli/Produce/Dairy/Canned Goods/Frozen/Etc.) so that you are in and out in a flash! Keep your ingredients as clean and versatile as possible to save money (for example, onions, garlic, and chicken will fit in so many meals!) And, now that we live in 2019, take advantage of your grocery store’s online ordering and delivery options. There is absolutely no shame in saving time where you can, and for busy women this tip can be a game changer!

Tip 5: Cook in bulk.

And here’s the big one. Batch work your meal preparation. I love to schedule 2 days per week to bulk-prepare meals for the next 3-4 days. Doing this gives you the ability to grab what you need if you’re constantly on the go like I am and it also keeps you on track because if you have an off day (it happens to all of us), you’ll always have healthy meals ready to eat. You will be much more likely to stick with your healthy eating plan if you have it prepared in advance, I promise! So turn on a movie, a podcast (my fave), or an audiobook and get to cookin’ girl!

Sign up for my email list to receive my Staple Grocery List.

If you need ideas for where to begin in creating your own staple grocery list, or you’re just curious what mine looks like, this one’s for you! You’ll notice I follow the tips of sticking to the outskirts, choosing versatile foods, and organizing the list.

Cali Larsen