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What comes to your mind when you hear the term meal planning?

I bet you are picturing a set of colourful containers packed with the same meal- some chicken, brown rice and boiled broccoli. Am I right?

Meal planning does not mean cooking five of the same meal to eat Monday through Friday; how boring. Most people cringe at the idea (as do I) and want freedom and flexibility to choose what to eat on the day. So, let’s spin the concept of meal planning into what it truly means.

The concept of meal planning is designed to save you time in the kitchen. Let’s face it we live in a fast-paced world. We juggle running a house, raising children, a full-time job and a social life. The days are long gone when women have time to cook meals from scratch each day. We are time-poor, and we need a solution. Enter meal planning (as it is meant to be).

Meal planning means planning your meals and prepping components that would typically be time-consuming ahead of time. Let’s have a look at what this looks like.

Step one is to find a few minutes to jot down meal ideas for the week. It avoids confusion at meal time and allows you to complete a shopping list (step 2) without missing out on anything you’ll need. It should not take more than 10-15minutes of your week to do this.

Step three is when you get home from the grocery store.

  • You can portion (possibly even marinate) fresh meats before popping them in the freezer.
  • Wash and chop vegetables before packing them into the fridge.
  • Portion out nuts into handy snack-size bagged ready to grab from the pantry.

You are creating the right environment and convenience for yourself here.

On the note of convenience, the supermarkets are packed with healthy choices that save you time: canned legumes, frozen vegetables, pre-cut vegetables, microwave rice pouches and ready-to-use sauces.

When you cook, double or triple the recipe, freeze one portion and pack one bit in your lunch box.

Look at your schedule each day and carve out time to pack your lunchbox, cook a quick dinner and have a nourishing breakfast. Your body will thank you for it.

Here is a checklist of handy meal prep hints for you to try.

  • Plan your main meals for the week (write a list)
  • Write out your shopping list based on this and add snacks, breakfast foods and lunchbox items
  • Ensure you have a set of airtight storage containers and you are familiar with what’s in your kitchen
  • Keep your pantry well stocked so that a healthy snack is always available when you need it
  • Cook in double or triple batches some of your favourite meals and befriend your freezer
  • Chop vegetables and fruits before popping them in the fridge (high water content vegetables like cucumbers can be cut fresh)
  • Buy frozen and canned produce to save time

This method of meal planning allows food freedom and flexibility. It can be the solution to healthy eating in a go go go lifestyle.

If you enjoyed reading this and want a helping hand in the kitchen, check out the family meal guide. The guide will kick start you with meal ideas, recipes, shopping lists, meal planners and handy resources.

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