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  • Writer's pictureLindsey Fausnaugh

Simple Meal Planning for Success

Updated: Oct 5, 2023

Life is busy and stressful enough without the constant need to make food decisions. By devoting a little time once a week to planning meals, you can save yourself unnecessary stress, achieve more healthful eating, and save both time and money.


Meal planning is useful for many different reasons.

It is a great way to achieve control over your health. Meal planning can help manage Diabetes by improving blood sugar levels, help establish a heart-healthy diet, managing the digestive issues of IBS, Celiac, Crohn's, food allergies and intolerances, properly fueling the body for growth and development in growing children, improving athletic performance, and is extremely effective for weight management.


Simplify Meal Planning in 4 Steps!

  1. Schedule a Planning Session

  2. Make Your Grocery List

  3. Designate a Meal Prep Day

  4. Learn to LOVE Leftovers


Schedule a Planning Session

Let's face it you will never have the time to do it if you don’t schedule it. Schedule 1-2 hours each week for planning. Start by only planning dinner meals for the week. After a month, you will have a 4-week dinner rotation meal plan. Then you can move on to planning lunches and finally breakfast.


Check your calendar

Plan your meals according to your calendar. Take a look at the upcoming week and identify which days you have the most time to spend cooking, prepping, and preparing meals. These are the best for trying new recipes. Busy nights, on the other hand, require a little more planning. Consider prepping ingredients ahead of time so meals can be prepared quickly. Slow cooker or instapot recipes are also great options. Busy evenings are ideal for utilizing or repurposing leftovers too.


Make your menu

  • Stick with some of your regular favorite meals as you get started. You already know you like them and you are confident in preparing them.

  • Choose 1-2 new menu items to try each week. This allows you to try new meals without feeling overwhelmed.

  • Choose meals that use several of the same ingredients. This will save you money allowing you to purchase less.

  • Plan to use fresh and refrigerated foods before frozen, canned, and shelf-stable items. This will help prevent food waste.

  • Leftovers make convenient lunch options or can be reheated for a quick meal on a busy night. Use leftovers within a few days. Most foods are safe for 3-5 days before they need to be tossed. Check specific food storage guidelines at https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/cold-food-storage-charts.

  • Choose a few breakfast options to rotate through.


Make Your Grocery List

Utilize pantry staples

  • Include all ingredients you will need for the selected recipes

  • Take inventory of ingredients you already have so you don't overspend

  • Stick to your list!


Designate a Meal Prep Day

Plan ahead

  • It's a great idea to meal prep on days you have time.

  • Wash, chop and store fresh vegetables.

  • Batch cook your grains to use in meals throughout the week. Brown rice and farro for example can be cooked to use as a side dish, used in grain bowls, added to salads, and in soup.

  • Plan how and when to thaw frozen meat. Thawing methods can take several days or just a few minutes depending on the technique. Refer to safe thawing methods https://rb.gy/xbfomk.

  • Embrace make-ahead and freezer meals.

Learn to LOVE Leftovers!

Are they really leftovers or just another form of meal prepping? I like to think of leftovers as a meal that is already prepared, "bonus food" if you will, or food that can be repurposed by adding some additional ingredients or seasoning transforming it into a new quick meal!


Bonus meat and veggies are superb. Just imagine the possibilities...

  • extra pizza toppings

  • stir-fry

  • hash

  • casserole

  • omelets

  • tacos

  • pasta bake

  • soup

  • salad

Leftovers make great next-day lunches. Just pack them up in single-serve containers and viola lunch is packed. All you have to do is remember to take it with you!


If you are storing your leftovers in the refrigerator eat them or freeze them within 3-4 days. On day 3 you can bring out the leftovers to serve buffet style. Any food that won't be used within 3-4 days should be frozen. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months before the quality and taste start to decline.


How to Get Meal Planning Assistance

Guidance on meal planning to help control Celiac Disease, Diabetes, Heart Disease, IBS, and for weight management purposes you may consider seeking assistance from a Registered Dietitian. This service is covered by most insurance companies often at no cost to you!



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