If you know me, you know meal planning is one of the greatest strategies that I support for living a healthy lifestyle! The benefits to planning your meals every week are countless, but just to name a few- it will save you time, money, stress and unwanted calories! If the thought of meal planning seems overwhelming to you, here are a few tips to help simplify the process...but if you don't know where to start, I suggest trying out some of my ready made meal plans to get you in the swing of things!
Step 1: Plan and Shop:
Write out meals and snacks you want for the week.If you are a Dashing Dish Member, then you have this step already done for you using our custom meal plan builder and grocery list builder! If not, you could use a calendar or just make a list in in regards to what meals you want to make for that week, followed by a grocery list for the ingredients you need to make those meals, and get to shopping!
Step 2: Prepare the Food:
Take everything out of the bags, and organize groceries according to your recipes.
Step 3: Put Everything Together to Make the Recipe
Breakfast Ideas: Many of the Dashing Dish breakfast recipes are quick and easy to make. For this reason, you don’t necessarily need to prepare your breakfasts ahead of time, but it never hurts to plan ahead! When planning ahead, you can make something such as protein muffins for the week and pack them in a ziplock bag for busy mornings, or make overnight oatmeal the night before.
Lunch Ideas: Lunches can be easily be made ahead of time and can be put together in an assembly line fashion. If you’re making salads or sandwiches, you can prepare for the entire week by making them all at once in a Tupperware container or by wrapping them individually in foil. You can also plan ahead by making a big batch of soup or chili and divide it into portions for the week.
Dinner Ideas: You could either make a few different main dishes and a couple of side dishes. Or you could just cook your meat and chopping your vegetables ahead of time. This is helpful if your recipes calls for cooked chicken, for example, it will be ready to put right into your recipes for the week!
Step 4: Put it all Away
After all the food is prepped and the recipes are made, I put everything in glass pyrex containers and place it in the fridge. That way I have something to throw in a cooler if I am heading out for the day or to pop in the microwave and/or oven to heat up and have a delicious dinner on the table in minutes. Prepared food typically lasts for 5-7 days in the fridge, or 3-6 months in the freezer.
This whole process from start to finish takes anywhere from 2-3 hours. I typically pick a block of time on the weekend to meal prep, but any day of the week works!
If the thought of meal planning still overwhelms you don't get discouraged! It can take time to learn and get in the swing of things. And if that's you, a great place to start may be the Dashing Dish meal plan builder. You never know, before you know it, meal planning might just become a part of your routine and you may even find yourself loving it!
Here is a Look Inside a Week's Worth of Meal Planning at My House.
For breakfast I almost always have one of my Dashing Dish Protein Shakes. The reason for this is that I generally work out right when I wake up most days of the week, and a cold thick protein packed shake always seems to hit the spot after a sweaty workout! Not to mention they are easy to make, and ready in a matter of minutes!
For snacks I prepare a batch of my muffins, no bake protein snacks, and/or protein bars. I generally have one of these with something else (such as fruit, Greek yogurt, almonds, etc.), or I enjoy two muffins/bars for a snack in between breakfast and lunch, and again between lunch and dinner. I have found that eating protein and fiber packed snacks prevents me from being too hungry at meal time, which can lead to cravings and overeating at meal time. Also, it has been proven that your metabolism increases when you fuel your body every 2-3 hours!
For this week's snacks I prepared a batch of my Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Muffins, and my Grain Free Peanut Butter Muffins. If I don't end up eating them all in one week, I simply pop them in my freezer, and pull them out as I need them!
While my muffins/bars are baking, I start to prepare my veggies and fruit for the weeks meals. I start by washing them in a large colander, (I use the same one, which means less dishes to clean!)
Then I dry and cut the veggies/fruit, and put them into individual tupperwear or ziplock bags. This way I have the veggies ready to go for recipes, or for a snack, or to throw in a salad!
Next I prepare my meats for the recipes I'm making for the week. This is certainly optional, but I personally find that if I cook up my ground meats, and chicken ahead of time, I am much more eager to whip a recipe together on a busy week night because half of the battle is already won! ;)
This week I prepared my Honey Mustard Chicken, and some lean ground turkey and lean ground beef (my husbands request- and just and note- you can swap this out for ground turkey in any of my recipes if your family prefers beef!)
I used the chicken and veggies that I prepared this week in my salads, which was one of the lunches my husband and i ate for the week.
I also prepared a batch of my Chicken Pot Pie Muffins for another option for lunches,. There was really no prep work required for these, except for the fact that I made them on meal prep day so they would be ready in the fridge when we were hungry. We enjoyed with some Garlic Parmesan Roasted Broccoli, which I chopped during meal prep, and washed and baked just before eating, since it tastes best freshly made!
Throughout the week I used the lean ground turkey to make my Italian Stuffed Peppers...
And my lean ground beef to make my Crockpot Layered Mexican Pizza for another dinner we enjoyed!
On the weekend I had family over, so I threw together a batch of my Crockpot Sweet Potato Turkey Chili before church, and it was ready when we got home! Crockpot recipes are my favorite for weekends!
My husband and I don't always eat dessert, but when we want a healthy option, we generally make one of my Single Serve Desserts (which doesn't require meal prep-because they only take a few minutes to make!) or I will prepare a batch of my Healthy Cookies, or a Dashing Dish dessert if we are having family or guests over for the weekend!
For more ideas on Meal Planning, be sure to check out this post:
Also, be sure to check out my new cookbook: 100 Recipes for Clean Eating for some of these recipes and some of my personal faves for meal planning!