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Meal Planning For Beginners

This last year has been A-mazingly productive for me. I've been growing my business, Violet started school, I started to publish my poetry, beginning with my latest collection that I wrote during the Pandemic (love poetry? Check it out right here) aaand I'm on the final draft of my first fiction novel... I'm so excited to get this one published! And I literally cannot wait to jump back into the next one. I find fiction such a beautiful outlet to escape into and unwind.

But despite how well put-together any of us appear on the outside, the truth is... it's not always easy to keep all the plates spinning. In-fact, I don't even spin mine all at once anymore. I've got too many for that! Especially since I have cleaning, home maintenance such as cooking, shopping, a personal life and mine and my daughters wellbeing to tend to. I've found the secret sauce for me, to be in creating a schedule that works for me. On my unique lifestyle, personality and preferences. I prefer to focus on one thing at a time, but I still like to have multiple tabs open. Hence, I wrote two books at once and run a multi-home-services company. I'm a little chaotic, I'm never going to be a beige capsule wardrobe, one hobby-having and totally mastering it-type, but I'm organised chaos, I'm colourful and I'm fun. So, that's me... well, a biased, snapshot glimpse of me... But what's your style? And how can you arrange a meal-prepping schedule to work for you? The good news is that there are universal tips when it comes to meal prep that we can all use to improve our time efficiency and diet. I mean, have you noticed how lack of time and poor diet are related? They're practically incestuous! I noticed some really bad habits creeping in at the beginning of this year. I was so pressed for time, I'd skip lunch some days and just eat cake and biscuits to make up for it... And while I'm definitely not against the cake, it doesn't contain the right nutrients to fuel my body for the busy lifestyle I lead. It's not sending my body the signals I want to give it... the messages it deserves, such as: I love you. I care for you. I appreciate you. Thanks for all your hardwork, here's some fuel that will actually help to maintain you. What messages does your diet and habits send to your body? And what messages would you like to send instead?

Would you like to take control of your diet? And create a meal plan that works specifically for you? My friend, you've come to the right place- now, grab a spoon and let's dig in!

Make a folder with recipes of all your favourite recipes and keep it in your kitchen

This is such a great weapon to have in your kitchen when you have a really hectic week and you just don't know what to plan/buy/eat.

Analyse how much time you have

This is absolutely key in creating a system you can stick to. The more honest you are with yourself, the more likely this is going to work. Don't compare yourself to anybody else, or get stuck in what you'd ideally like to be doing... if you have ten minutes in the evening on a thursday, then that's cool. Arrange a 10-minute meal for Thursday, focus on getting more done on the days that you have more time. Which brings me to...

Pick one day per week to meal prep

Use this day to get on top of planning your meals for the wk and completing any prep that you can (food that won't go soggy!) You can also ensure that you have all the ingredients that you need for each meal on each day so that you don't put yourself in the unfortunate position of start cooking a meal, only to realise you're missing one vital ingredient (babe, we've all been there...)

Look for healthy, quick recipes that you can add to your recipe folder and organise them under a divider labelled: quick and healthy

This has dramatically improved my diet time and time again. My winter folder is full of easy, delicious and nutritious homemade soups that can I batch cook and even eat on the go in my thermos. Healthy convenience food on the go? Say whaaa?! - Yes, it is possible!

Plan for any leftovers

Whoever said: "cook once, eat twice" was a genius. I'm betting she a was a savvy, money-saving solo mama too. Planning for leftovers reduces your food waste, saves you time and saves you money. You just can't lose with this one! Besides, one those busy evenings when you can pack your leftover pasta for lunch the next day? Ugh, you know it makes sense!

Shop for all your ingredients on the same day each week and stick to your list!

This is so important to stay on schedule. Need some help with meal-planning? Check out my ultimate Meal Planning Guide to take from beginner to pro in a few easy steps.

Organiser your fridge with meal prepping/food organising containers

One must-have for meal prepping is suitable containers. You don’t have to buy anything expensive. The main thing is to buy containers that are freezer and dishwasher safe and stackable. Stackable containers will help you keep everything organised and make the most of your fridge's space.

Get your family involved

Getting your family onboard with you will likely mean more success and harmony within your household. Plus, you get to delegate some of this work onto others, which is all part of healthy self-care rituals and boundaries (which is my favourite 'B' word for many reasons, but productivity is nothing without it!) Involving your kids with meal prepping is a great opportunity to teach them some essential life skills, such as:

  1. Time keeping

  2. Organisation

  3. Food hygiene and safety

  4. Healthy eating

  5. Self-care

  6. How to save money

Declutter and keep your kitchen simple

Keeping your space decluttered and getting rid of anything broken or you no longer use minimises confusion and makes space for more clarity since you will only be seeing/using things that you actually need and want everyday. Plus, less clutter=less stress. Yes, it's been scientifically proven, yo!

Last but by no means least: always, always, always clean up after yourself..

Especially when you don't feel like it: your future self will thank you!

I hope these tips have helped you. I know that staying on task with meal planning and healthy eating is not always easy with busy family life, I've not always found this an easy area myself... but I promise that taking the time to meal plan and prep really, really does help.

Wishing you and your family a wonderful week ahead... oh, and don't forget to take the time out to spend on the things that you love and people that matter to you most- and that includes scheduling some time for yourself!

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