Full disclaimer, in my opinion meal planning ROCKS! It it by far my greatest time hack. It doesn’t need to be super complicated, and definitely shouldn’t cause you more stress in the process.

Here are my 3 simple tips, but ultimately, do what works for you.

  1. Once a week sit down – solo, with your partner, or with your family – to plan out what meals (and snacks, if you wish to include those) that you will have for every day of the coming week. You can use any scrap of paper or you can use this free meal planning template. When planning, also include any meals that you won’t be preparing i.e. take-outs. My Friday is always take-out pizza and despite this being a regular thing for 3+ years, it still gets added to my meal plan. It doesn’t need to be a different meal every night, meals can be repeated if you make a double batch (highly recommend this!), or perhaps you just have a favourite that you want to eat regularly (ours is vegan spaghetti bolognese – we have it twice a week!).

Coach G’S TIP: I find it really helpful to have a list of favourite meals written down, so I don’t need to start from scratch every week. if staring at my blank meal plan, I can refer back to this list for inspiratation before delving into my recipe book stash.

2. When you’ve decided on your meals (and snacks), take a notepad or notes app on your phone and head on over to your fridge/freezer/kitchen cupboards to see what ingredients you need to make these meals. You might know the recipe off by heart or be following a instructions, but go through each meal and make sure everything is written down – don’t assume you still have that carton of vegetable stock at the back of your cupboard, check that it’s there!

COACH G’s Tip: Also be mindful of potentially forgotten about items such as Himalayan sea salt, spices, parchment paper, etc.

3. Take your shopping list to the grocery store and ensure every single item is purchased. If anything is unavailable, consider what you could use as a substitute, or are you able to go to another store/order online before that ingredient is required.

COACH G’S TIP: My personal preference would be to buy a substitute because making time to visit another store defeats the purpose of meal planning to save time.

I hope these tips help you to get started with meal planning. I know meal planning does remove the last minute decision making aspect (although this could be a positive for you), but at least you know what meal is coming, you have the ingredients all ready to go, and if you are like me, it means you can salivate all day waiting for that spaghetti bolognese!

HELLO, I’m Gillian, a running and nutrition coach based in Toronto, Canada. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post, it really means a lot to me. If you are interested, I have MORE:

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.