Healthy Meal Planning for Beginners
Our secret weapon? Stock it like it’s hot.
When time is tight, the last thing you probably want to worry about is what to make for breakfast, lunch or dinner and wondering if it will be healthy. Especially when last minute schedule changes and delays throw you a curveball (hello, commuter traffic). So, we’re breaking down healthy meal planning into three simple steps so you can save time, cut back on food waste and be prepared to whip up an easy healthy meal any day of the week.
Set yourself up for success by having healthy staples on hand (and cut back on the number of trips to the store). Take inventory of what you have and stock up on items to store in your pantry, fridge and freezer. Then each week focus on shopping for fresh seasonal produce, other proteins and perishable items that can be mixed with your staple items.
Here’s a few of our favorites:
whole grains: like quinoa and brown rice for power bowls, corn tortillas for tacos
canned beans: like garbanzos for salads and black beans for side dishes
olive oil: for cooking, making sauces and dressings
canned or boxed tomatoes: for pasta and chili
jarred salsa: for tacos, salads and potatoes
raw or toasted nuts: for snacks, salads and breakfast toppings
seeds: like chia, flax or hemp for breakfast, desserts and snacks
frozen greens: like spinach for a quick saute or in smoothies
frozen berries: for breakfasts, desserts and smoothies
plain yogurt: Greek or Icelandic are our favorites as a base for creamy sauces and dressings, easy breakfast parfaits and smoothies
Having these ingredients handy, makes it even easier to throw together a few staple items to create a “backup meal” for those extra busy nights (bonus - you can save a few bucks not doing takeout!).
We can’t forget the flavor! We have entire drawers full of herbs and spices to boost the taste (and a little extra nutrition) of our favorite meals. Some of our go-tos include:
Take Shortcuts - Mix, Match and Reuse (aka reinvent leftovers)
Find a few healthy recipes that use similar ingredients so you only have to prep the ingredients once.
Try pesto pasta salad for dinner one night and reuse the pesto for turkey paninis with tomato soup another night.
Use shortcuts when you can to speed things up in the kitchen.
Pre-chopped veggies and bagged salad mixes can turn into quick stir frys, grain bowls and fajitas.
Batch cook a few staples like beans and grains to use in more than one meal (or try frozen and canned options without a lot of salt).
Roast an extra portion of chicken to use in more than one meal like easy black bean and chicken enchiladas or mason jar cobb salad.
Plan it Out
Create a plan that works with your schedule. Take a few minutes at the beginning of the week to map out your daily schedule.
Use a printable meal plan (like our templates :) or even a note on your phone to write it down/type it out. Physically seeing your plan can help you stick with it! If you use the printable version - hang it in an obvious place in your kitchen so you won’t miss it. If you are using your phone, you could even set an alarm to remind you what’s on the menu for the night or what needs to be prepped.
Don’t worry if plans unexpectedly change!
Alternate the days you have leftovers from a previous meal
Create a backup meal from the pantry staples (like bean and cheese whole wheat burritos with quick tomato cucumber salad or veggie scramble with whole wheat toast).