Meal planning hacks for the rest of us

What’s the secret to meal planning? The secret is…. there is no secret.  You just do it.  MEAL. PLAN. EVERY. DAY.  There’s nothing inherently “sexy” about it, despite what those flashy instagram posts or blogs lead you to believe, but there are a few tricks to save you time and money. Eventually, you will get to the point where meal prep is just another chore like bathing or brushing your teeth (Am I inspiring you yet!)

You have to get to the point where you are sick and tired of being sick and tired.  The right nutrition will go a long way to improving your energy and health.  Great nutrition nourishes and heals the body.


  • Limit Variety During The Week To Save Time And Money. This means the core of what you eat everyday remains the same, but you can make changes to the seasonings or sides.  Core items in my diet include eggs, egg whites, wild Alaskan salmon, cod, chunk light tuna, sardines, or Tempeh. With every meal, I try and have a heaping of leafy greens or cruciferous vegetables. This could be anything from arugula and spinach salad, to roasted cauliflower and broccoli. Steamed kale and sautéed riced cauliflower is another great option.
  • Prep And Cook In Bulk On The Weekends.(or your least busy day). If Sunday is your meal prep day, then you’ll have to make sure your grocery shopping is done by the day before.  For me, this means I have to put the frozen fish in the refrigerator on Friday or Saturday in order for it to be thawed when I’m ready to cook it.
  • Have The Right Tools For The Right Job. You’ll need make sure your kitchen tools are easily accessible.  Tools that I use each week include a vegetable steamer, a toaster oven, an iron skillet, a large skillet, a baking stone, a Nutribullet and of course, a coffee maker.  Everything I use is stored strategically close to my cooking area.  In addition to cookware, an often neglected aspect of meal prep is Tupperware and a large insulated lunch bag.  Remember, you’ll be cooking anywhere from 2-5 servings to last you throughout the week and most of your meals won’t be eaten at home.  You’ll have to find a system that works for you.  For me this means I cook on Sundays and Tuesday evenings since I work Monday through Thursday.
  • Know your grocery store and get in and get out. Stick to your grocery list and try to avoid impulse purchases.  If you can limit variety, then your grocery shopping experience will be quick and easy because you’ll be eating the same core foods each week.  This recommendation is not a popular one, but unless you have extra time to plan, purchase and prepare a new menu each week, it’s really your best option.  The number one reason people don’t prepare their own meals is because of perceived lack of time.

The core of a healthy eating plan is one that emphasizes whole foods in their mostly natural state.  It should be low in added sugars, refined carbohydrates and saturated fat.  Feel free to go sugar-free, but don’t replace it with artificial sweeteners.  It’s worth mentioning that your meal plan should also be calorically balanced with the appropriate macro and micronutrients for your individual needs. This is your meal plan!

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About the Author
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Weight Loss Coach specializing in lifestyle transformation