5 Steps to Stress-Free Meal Planning

Five glass food storage containers filled with the same homemade meal: sauteed greens, pulled chicken, roasted sweet potato sticks and roasted garlic cloves. 

Beauty Buzz/Blog Biz | Stress-Free Meal Planning

Contents:

Benefits To Meal Planning

As a dietitian nutritionist, I’ve seen clients get overwhelmed when they make common meal planning mistakes. This article contains some advice to reduce the overwhelm!

Once you know how to meal-plan, it will truly be a superpower. You’ll notice positive effects in other areas of your life immediately! 

There are many benefits to meal planning. Meal planning:

  1. Helps you keep a balanced routine, knowing you always have the next meal or snack ready.
  2. Helps you simplify your time spent in the kitchen.
  3. Helps you reduce “hanger” (hunger+anger, AKA low blood sugar levels!)
  4. Helps you set and reach your health goals.

My first tip is to break down meal planning into manageable, doable tasks. Meal planning should be a tool to reduce stress, not create more stress! 

#1 Planning Ahead

Meal planning is about… planning! 

Once a month, take 15 minutes and look at your upcoming schedule. When are you out of town? When will you be extra busy? These are the days when you’re not going to want to shop or cook! 

On the flipside, use your calendar to find some available time when you could handle some meal planning tasks. Next step: schedule these meal planning tasks! 

Recipes

This is also the time to come up with some recipes you’ve been meaning to try. (I have many recipe videos to inspire you!) When choosing recipes, make sure you find ones that provide you with a balanced meal. A balanced meal contains animal- or plant-based protein, carbohydrates with fiber and energy, and non-starchy vegetables. 

#2 Grocery Shopping

Once a month (or as needed), stock up on dry goods and frozen foods that last. Then, you can get fresh food and produce when you make quick trips to the store. The main thing is to be intentional when you shop, so that you will use your fresh food and minimize waste. 

Also, don’t overthink your shopping list. In all likelihood, your pantry staples are pretty consistent from month to month. Keep a list of the staples that you rely on, and add new items to the list as needed. 

Tip: Refer to the recipes you chose earlier in the planning stage, to add ingredients to your shopping list.

#3 Cooking

Here’s one of my favorite tips for maximizing time in the kitchen. While you’re cooking, make two recipes instead of one. For example, while you’re making chili, roast some sweet potatoes or boil eggs. Making a little extra food doesn’t take that much time or energy. 

Tip: Set a timer for every dish that’s cooking! There are several smartphone apps that have multiple timers. 

Also, making two dishes doesn’t mean you’ll eat both those dishes right away! One dish will be for the future. Which leads me to the next point…

#4 Food Storage

Five glass food storage containers filled with the same homemade meal: sauteed greens, pulled chicken, roasted sweet potato sticks and roasted garlic cloves. 

Putting away your meals in a helpful way can reduce food waste and make your life easier! For example, store large batches of food in glass, single-serving containers. This way you can reheat one meal easily, control portion sizes, and have a quick lunch or dinner to grab when you need it. 

Be decisive! Whatever food you’re not going to eat within the next 3 days, freeze it the same day that you cook it.

Tip: Label your containers with the meal and the date it was cooked… because you will probably forget what it was and end up avoiding it!

#5 Eating

Now, this should be the fun part! But sometimes we feel resistance about eating food that we already prepared. So you still need a strategy for choosing what to eat. 

Tip: Every week, go through your fridge and freezer, and take note of what you have and what you should eat within 3 days or before it goes bad. 

There are many more meal planning tips and tricks to help you strategize. With practice and dedication, meal planning can make you feel confident, energized, and healthy!

To learn about tailoring a meal planning strategy to meet your needs, schedule a free one-on-one Nutrition for Wellness Strategy Session. Or, check out my upcoming meal planning workshops for meal planning guidance.

Cheers to your health,

By Alicia Connor, MA RDN & Chef

Author Bio:

Alicia Connor a pretty brunette with short-cropped hair wearing a denim jacket with a white tee.
Alicia Connor

Alicia Connor is a registered dietitian nutritionist and chef who lives in San Francisco. She is passionate about healthy cooking, with a focus on simplifying meal planning and making healthy eating easier. Alicia built a successful career as a chef, working at one of the top restaurants in San Francisco. But as her vision declined due to a hereditary condition, she decided to focus on a career with longevity and returned to school to become a dietitian.

In her current role as a registered dietitian nutritionist and chef, she is always passionately working towards peoples’ health. In February 2019, she founded Quick & Delish, a video cooking series on YouTube, where she presents easy recipes with minimal steps, for flavorful, balanced meals. She’s writing an e-cookbook and gives virtual meal planning workshops year-round. And she works with clients one-on-one to build good habits, simplify meal planning, and create an actionable plan to meet their health goals. You can read more about her passion for health in Today’s Dietitian. 

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  • The header photo and photo included in the article are identical. Five glass food storage containers filled with the same homemade meal: sauteed greens, pulled chicken, roasted sweet potato sticks and roasted garlic cloves. 
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