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The 5 Step Meal Planning Framework

Healthy Eating Starts with a Plan

Healthy eating can seem like a daily battle when you have no idea what to eat, aren’t stocked with health supporting foods (grab my guide here) and don’t have the energy to prep something after a long day at work. Instead of setting yourself up for failure, why not set yourself up for success? It all starts with your weekly meal plan and prep. And once you get in the groove, you can easily streamline the process and settle into better health as a result of your fruitful labor.

So what should you do to ensure you eat healthy all week long? 

Follow this 5 step framework for healthy eating success all week long.  

The 5 Step Process to Healthy Eating Success

Step #1: Schedule a Recipe Inspiration Session (on your couch with a glass of natural wine)

It's quite easy to get stuck in a rut on what to eat each week. So why not get inspired by setting aside some time to browse your favorite cookbooks, trusted online blogs, Pinterest boards and/or Instagram feeds, or even sitting down to watch a cooking show.

I recommend perusing recipes on a different day than when you do the actual meal planning in step two. This prevents overwhelm and we all know how easy it is to get sucked into the internet black hole. It's important to keep this process fun and easy. It's also a nice activity to do at the end of the week to decompress and focus on some self care.

Grab your favorite cup of tea or natural wine, your choice of technology (Ipad, Computer, Phone) and/or some good old fashioned books and let the healthy inspiration flow. 

**Pro Tip: Set aside some time to do a recipe dump as well of your own recipes you love to make! This will give you easy ideas you can use so you're not *only* using new recipes each week which can be overwhelming. It's easy to do --- get a sheet of paper (I like writing but you can also type), set up different headings for meals on the page (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, dessert), set a timer for 10 minutes and off the top of your head write down as many meals as you can that you like and can cook easily (these will mostly be recipes you don't need a recipe for). You can add to this list over time!

Step #2: Create a Healthy Meal Plan for the Week (or month)

Three options. Grab a piece of paper, download my free meal plan template (follow link to template, make a copy in your google drive and start typing), OR use a meal planning website (I LOVE this one) to plot out all of the meals you intend to cook and eat that week. Don't forget to note any days you will not be eating at home. By doing this you will save money at the grocery store and won’t be left with any food waste at the end of the week.

**Recipe enthusiasts beware: Remember to keep your meals for the week manageable. As a rule of thumb, choose only two to three new recipes to create each week. This will allow you to stay on track with your meal plan, especially when you have a busy week and are just too tired to spend time in the kitchen. 

**Pro Tip to Save Time & Money: Make an extra serving at dinner that you can set aside and enjoy the next day for lunch. You could even put a different spin on things and repurpose your leftovers for the next day. For example, if you made an asian stir fry for dinner, you could take the veggies and turn it into a ramen bowl with some extra ingredients. This not only saves time prepping your lunches for each day, but when you are plotting your meals on your meal plan, it streamlines things even more.

Step #3: Make a Shopping List Before You Go!

List out every single ingredient you will need for all recipes in your meal plan. I like to do this immediately following the creation of my meal plan. Then do a quick sweep through your kitchen cupboards and spice cabinets, crossing off any ingredients you already have. This will help you save time and money at the food store. It will also reduce the amount of food waste for the week. Download my free shopping list template, create your own or use a meal planning website. Now you are ready to go food shopping!

**Pro Tip: Making your shopping list can be the most time consuming part of meal planning, especially if you do it right and list out every ingredient needed. You can download my template and list them off or find a meal planning program that does it for you. OR you can use my favorite meal planning website and it will create your list for you!

Step #4: Implement Meal Prepping 

Who wants to be de-stemming Kale or chopping carrots after a busy day at work? Set aside time to prep your food immediately when you return from the food store or market. This means washing, drying, chopping and storing all produce properly. It could also mean soaking any nuts, seeds, grains, or legumes in preparation for use. You don’t want to skip this step as it is the key to success during your busy week ahead.

You can also make a plan for the week of necessary prep items you need to complete. For example, you might add a reminder if something needs to be defrosted on Wednesday so you can cook it Thursday. Or maybe you don't want to forget to soak your almonds for homemade nut milk on Sunday. Whatever you need a reminder for, just add it to the schedule. You can also do this digitally on google calendar and get reminders sent to your phone. 

**Pro Tip: Before you leave for the food store, fill your sink up with water, white vinegar and a few drops of lemon essential oil. This way when you arrive home, meal prep is automatic. In addition, always block off an hour or two for meal prep after your market trip.

Step #5: Post Your Healthy Meal Plan for Easy Reference

Finally, be sure to post your meal plan where you can reference it all week long, whether somewhere in your kitchen, in an app on your phone or on a calendar. Not only will this remind you what's for dinner each night, but you will reduce your food waste as you use of all the ingredients you purchased for the plan. 

**Pro Tip: If you like to get created, purchase a chalkboard that you can write on and display. Or grab some chalkboard paint and paint the front of your cupboard door or cabinet for another creative display. You could even get a glass picture frame, place a template behind the glass and use dry erase markers to write out each week’s meal plan.

And that's a wrap! My 5 step process for eating healthy all week long. I hope you found some healthy inspiration.

But before you go, how about a free 5 day meal plan (shopping list included!)? Grab your free 5 day dinner meal plan.

DO TELL...What's your secret ingredient to eating healthy all week long? Share below. 

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