Meal planning tips + our essentials for prepping ahead

Meal planning and prepping ahead are perhaps the two most important aspects of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. By planning your meals in advance, you will likely avoid those last minute stops for fast food and by prepping ahead, you will have quick and easy access to healthy foods for meals and snacks. Saving money and extra calories to your waistline are added bonuses that come along with meal planning and prepping! Today I wanted to share some of our tips for successful meal planning and prepping that everyone can do!

Meal planning- collage

Meal Planning Tips

Plan your meals

I love to browse Pinterest for meal inspiration (dont forget to follow HBH on Pinterest!). I also use blogs (check out our breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes for some yummy healthy options!) and cookbooks for healthy recipe inspiration as well. Set yourself up for success by taking into account your schedule for the week. If you have a late meeting at work or a kids soccer practice on a certain night, don’t plan on making an elaborate meal.

Meal planning- list of meals

Some money saving tips…
– Check your freezer and pantry for items you already have on hand that you can incorporate into your meal plan. For example- if you have a can of black beans in the pantry, you could make our Sweet Potato Black Bean Tacos one night.
– Use your grocery sale advertisement to plan your meals. Chicken is on sale this week? Pick a couple of recipes that use chicken to get the most “bang for your buck”.

Make a list

Once you have your meals, go through each recipe and make a grocery list with all of the items you need at the store to prepare meals those meals. I usually have to check my pantry for certain things- flour, sugar, breadcrumbs, spices etc to make sure I have enough for what the recipe calls for.

Meal planning- Laura list

While making your list, organize it by how your grocery store is set up. For example- list your produce together, meats, dairy, aisles, frozen etc. This assures you get everything you need without having to backtrack because you forgot something.

Meal planning- grocery list

If you don’t like traditional paper lists, there are plenty of apps that allow you to make digital grocery lists on your mobile device (check out Cook Smarts, Plan to Eat and Ziplist if you’re a techie). Another one of our favorite apps is Shop Shop where you can easily make multiple shopping lists (for different stores) and cross off items when you get them. When you randomly think of something you need from the store, you can easily add it to your list.

Plan for leftovers

With our schedule, I always count at least one night in the meal plan as “Leftover night”. Though I don’t know exactly what will be leftover, I know there will be things that need to get eaten before our next grocery trip. Incorporating leftovers into your meal plan will help you to save money, decrease food waste allow you to take a night off from preparing meals!

Don’t forget about breakfast and lunch

When I first started meal planning, I only planned for dinner. I often times found myself scavenging through the refrigerator for things to pack for lunch or breakfast, and would usually end up buying lunch out. Planning a couple of items for lunches and dinners and making sure you have the ingredients on hand can help you to avoid eating out or hitting the drive thru.

Use clear storage containers

By using clear storage containers, you can see what is in each container. Store healthy foods at eye level in the refrigerator so those are the first things you see when you open the refrigerator.

Essentials for Prepping Ahead

-Clean veggies and fruit to have on hand for snacks, lunches etc

Meal planning- fresh veggies

-Pack breakfast for the week in advance

  • Some of my favorites are overnight oats, yogurt and fruit,  and hard boiled eggs and toast.  Smoothie packs you can throw in the blender, homemade muffins, or egg muffins are also great alternatives

Meal planning- overnight oats

 

-Make a soup or salad to have for lunches during the week.

  • If you are like me and get tired of the standard turkey sandwich, this will work well for you! I have been making this soup for the last few weeks and packing it in mason jars to take for the week. Its easy to grab, place in a lunch box and reheat in the office microwave. Mason jars are perfect as they are a portion controlled, glass that can be microwave and seal well to avoid lunch box spills.

– Cook chicken breasts, salmon etc to use on salads, sandwiches or for a quick dinner

–  Plan an extra meal to have as lunch

  • I recently made this crockpot lasagna to have for lunches during the week and it worked fabulously to feed my husband and I a week worth of lunches

-Keep healthy convenient options on hand “in case of emergency”

  • Some of our staples include frozen organic chicken, Trader Joes frozen organic brown rice and organic quinoa, frozen vegetables, canned beans, eggs, whole grain bread and Amy’s organic frozen meals

 

Talk to us: What are some of your favorite things to prep ahead or what products do you always have on hand?

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  1. […] at home always seems to dwindle during this time of the year. It’s important to continue to plan and prep ahead of time and choose meals that are going to quick and easy but still healthy. I previously […]

  2. […] of the most important things to being successful with a healthy diet is being prepared. Meal planning and prepping are key to sticking with a plan (like our no sugar challenge), maintaining a budget […]

  3. […] after spending the time and money to make the recipe. Pinterest is also one of my favorite tools to meal plan. I can access it from anywhere, its easily searchable, and it has recipes for anything your heart […]

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