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Meal Planning for Success | 1 Pot of Beans, 5 Ways

Millet and black beans with tomatoes and spinach.

Beauty Buzz/Blog Biz

Meal Planning for Success!

What does the phrase “meal planning” make you think of? Maybe a tall stack of food storage containers, or a table piled high with recipes, ingredients, and the best intentions! 

Maybe at first, you were excited to tackle an ambitious meal plan, but after Day 5 of eating more of the same food… it’s getting repetitive. 

Meal planning example of as dietitian writing a diet plan, view from above the table with different healthy products including fruits, vegetables, and meat.
Meal planning example

Okay, take a deep breath… 

In this meal planning success story, meal planning means keeping food interesting AND keeping your life organized. And yes, I promise it’s possible! 

Take a moment and imagine what successful meal planning would mean to you. What would that feel like? What kind of person would you be, if you knew you had your food taken care of, in a way that was manageable, sustainable, and delicious?

Meal planning success means

  1. Having go-to snacks and meals in the fridge, freezer or pantry when you need them (preferably during or after a long day!) 
  2. Meals and snacks include a balance of protein, carbohydrates with energy and fiber, and non-starchy vegetables, to fuel your activities. 
  3. And finally, variety! Eating a variety of foods is essential to prevent burnout from eating the same thing repeatedly. With some planning, the meals you have on hand can be easily modified with different ingredients. 

Remember what your meal planning goal feels like. Have that feeling be the motivator to keep planning and organizing your meals! 

Tip: Plan for the busy times

If you know that a busy time is approaching in a couple of weeks, then don’t wait! Make a plan this week and set yourself up for success in the future. Stock up on dry/shelf-stable ingredients now, so you don’t run out during a busy week. How about planning a grocery trip and freezing a big pot of beans in single-serving-size containers, so that you know you’ll have nourishing meals on the days you need them the most? Set your future self up for success! 

You may be thinking, “Hm… do you really think that a pot of beans could stay interesting for a week?” 

Great question! Beans are a starchy legume. They are a nutrient-dense, plant-based protein, and an excellent example of a versatile foundation for your meals. 

One of my good friends makes a pot of beans every week. He varies each pot with a different seasoning, like Mexican, Italian, Spanish, and uses different beans as well. It’s what he adds to the beans each mealtime — the way he completes the meal — that keeps the beans interesting. 

Here are just a few ideas for how you could cook (or assemble) a variety of nutritious and tasty meals throughout the week using a pot of beans as your foundation. 

1 Pot of Beans, 5 Ways

Start with 1 pot of beans. Cook according to package instructions and season. Then, add colorful veggies like roasted red peppers, diced fresh tomato, carrots, snap peas, arugula, fennel, red cabbage, artichokes, marinated beets, collard greens, or swiss chard. 

An assortment of beans and lentils in 9 different wooden spoons.
Assortment of beans

Transform your beans into a meal. Serve with… 

  1. Basil pesto, artichoke hearts, roasted red bell peppers, shredded carrot, and finish with lemon juice. Enjoy hot or cold! 
  2. Roasted salmon, marinated beets, and sautéed kale with garlic and chili flakes.
  3. Roasted sweet potatoes with Chinese 5 spice, mushrooms, and broccoli.
  4. Quinoa, tomato sauce, Italian sausage, carrots, and rainbow swiss chard (best with white beans). Finish with parmesan.
  5. Another option: Make a three-bean salad with garbanzo beans, red kidney beans, and green beans. Dress with red wine vinegar, olive oil, dried oregano, scallions, salt & freshly ground black pepper. Add roasted cauliflower or other vegetables.

Taste Tip:

Add flavor! Cook fresh garlic into your vegetables or beans, and serve the dish with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. 

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. 

Image Descriptions:

  • Header image: Millet and black beans with tomatoes and spinach.
  • Dietitian writing a meal plan, view from above the table with different healthy products including fruits, vegetables, and meat.
  • An assortment of beans and lentils in wooden spoons.


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