When thinking about eating healthier, meal planning can seem daunting. However, a lot of the time it’s because we are thinking of meal prepping, you know with the fancy containers. When in reality, there is a big difference between meal planning and meal prepping. Both have a time and place, but you can start just meal planning without the meal prepping. Whereas, you cannot jump into meal prepping without meal planning.
We are going to talk about the differences between meal planning and meal prepping as well as the benefits of each. Spend some time learning about both and use this to help make a decision about what steps make the most sense for your current season of life.
What Is Meal Planning?
Meal planning is the perfect place to start when you are looking to make changes to your diet. It is the process of figuring out what meals you will eat over the week that meet your current definition of healthy. From start to finish meal planning is figuring out what recipes to make, how much to make, and when to make them.
One of the biggest concerns people have around meal planning is the amount of time it will take. However, in our meal planning course, we teach you how to do it in less than 15 minutes.
At the end of the day, following through with a meal plan will save time, and money and make healthier choices in your house. Having a plan for your meals will actually take the stress off of dinnertime.
What Is Meal Prepping?
Without a meal plan, meal prepping doesn’t happen. Meal prepping is actually preparing your weekly meals in advance. There are different levels of meal prepping, you can fully make all of your meals or just prepare certain ingredients before. The goal is to take some of the heavy lifting off of mealtime, allowing you to eat healthier without much thought. That’s where those fancy containers come in.
Spending time meal prepping on the weekends can help you save time cooking throughout the week, give you better portion control, and help build healthier eating habits. Not to mention, it makes eating healthy pretty convenient.
The Difference Between Meal Planning and Meal Prepping
Meal planning helps you to make simple choices about what you’ll eat throughout the week, allowing for flexibility for the days your routine gets thrown off. On the other hand, meal prepping offers the convenience of having prepared, portioned meals ready to go, reducing daily time spent in the kitchen.
The right approach for you depends on your goals in this season of life. In order to meal prep, you need to meal plan. The two steps go hand in hand when building healthier eating habits. Many people find that a combination of both methods can provide the best of both worlds.
If the whole process feels quite daunting, I encourage you to start with just making a meal plan. It won’t take more than 15 minutes and you’ll be able to have structure throughout the week.
Whether you’re a meal planner, a meal prepper, or somewhere in between, the ultimate goal is to make your life more convenient and your meals more satisfying.
Are you a meal prepper or planner?
**Scroll to the bottom to join my monthly membership that takes the stress out of your meal planning!
Grab a free copy of my meal planner, but first take a look at these guidelines!
There are three SIMPLE steps to meal planning.
1.Know your schedule.
2. Know your favorite recipes.
3. Plan your week.
Use “Go-To Meals” to help make cooking dinner easier more nights a week. A “Go To Meal” is a meal that you know everyone in the family will eat without question.
What nights do you have TIME to cook, and what nights will leftovers be a better option?
Using your “Go To Meal” list and other recipes you would like to try, fill in your meal plan for the nights you need to cook.
The grocery list page will help you make your grocery list based on your meal plan for the week.
*Get your free meal planner here:
Try out a few meal prep recipes below!
Mexican Meal Prep Bowls with Cauliflower Rice INGREDIENTS CAULIFLOWER RICE:
1 head cauliflower
1 tbsp olive oil
1 green bell pepper (chopped)
1 can chopped tomatoes (1.5 cup chopped tomatoes)
1 tsp ground onion
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp crushed chili flakes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 cup spinach or kale
Get a large pot, add chicken breasts to it, and season with salt and pepper.
Cover the chicken with around 1 inch of water.
Bring the water to a boil and let it simmer for around 12 minutes. Remove the chicken from water and shred it using either fork, claws, or a food processor.
Break apart cauliflower head. Wash, dry, and chop into smaller pieces.
Pulse with a food processor until you’ve got cauliflower rice.
Heat up a pan, add olive oil, chop green pepper and sauté them for a couple of minutes.
Add cauliflower rice, chopped tomatoes, and simmer for 5 minutes.
Mix in onion, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, crushed chili flakes, oregano, salt, and pepper. Mix as well as you can and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
Divide cauliflower rice equally among 4 food containers. Add shredded chicken to each of them as well as spinach or kale. Slice avocado and top each meal prep bowl with it.
Greek Sheet Pan Chicken Dinner
1 lb chicken breasts (diced)
1 red pepper (diced)
1 green pepper (diced)
1 yellow pepper (diced)
1 zucchini (sliced)
1 red onion (sliced)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
6 cloves garlic (minced)
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup feta cheese (crumbled)
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Add the chicken and veggies into a large sheet pan. Top them up with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, dried parsley, salt, and black pepper.
Toss all the ingredients to combine well and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked.
Remove from the oven and top up with crumbled feta cheese before serving.
Chocolate Protein Overnight Oats with Banana
2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 ripe banana, sliced
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp vanilla protein powder
1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Blend all the ingredients except rolled oats until smooth.
Pour the mixture over the oats and mix well. Leave it to soak in a sealable food container or a glass jar in the fridge for 8 hours.
Stir well once removed from the fridge. Top with slices of banana.
Eat directly from the jar/container or add to the bowl. Make sure you eat it within 24 hours of mixing for the best taste!
Spicy Chickpea Quinoa Bowls
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth (or water)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more if you like a lot of heat!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
For the Lemony Tahini Dressing:
1/4 cup tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt + cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons water (or more depending on the consistency)
To make quinoa, rinse and soak for about 10 minutes in warm water. Bring 2 cups of vegetable broth to a boil in a small saucepan, drain quinoa and add to boiling broth. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer, cooking for about 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off heat and allow quinoa to sit for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork; set aside.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, drizzle olive oil and sauté onion and garlic until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients (minus the cilantro), stirring to combine. Cover the pan and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a blender (or you could whisk all the ingredients together) and blend until smooth. Feel free to add more water one tablespoon at a time until you get the desired consistency.
To assemble the bowls, spoon about a 1/2 cup of quinoa in a bowl along with a heaping 1/2 cup of the chickpea mixture and drizzle with tahini sauce, if desired. Other additions could be leafy greens, cucumbers, extra cilantro and lemon slices.
Lemon Roasted Salmon with Sweet Potatoes and Broccolini
2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
sea salt + fresh black pepper
½ teaspoon cumin powder
a few tablespoons of olive oil
4 cups of broccolini (or broccoli florets)
12 ounces of wild-caught salmon filets
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes and/or fresh thyme (optional)
Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
Arrange the diced sweet potatoes on one sheet pan and the broccolini on another sheet pan. Drizzle both with olive oil. Top the sweet potatoes with salt, pepper, and cumin, toss to combine. Toss the broccolini with the salt and pepper. Bake the sweet potatoes for 15 minutes, set broccolini aside.
While the sweet potatoes are baking, prepare the salmon. In a small bowl, combine the butter, lemon juice, garlic powder, pepper flakes, thyme, salt and pepper. Heat in the microwave for 15 seconds or until the butter melts. Line a small baking sheet with foil, spray with cooking spray. Place the salmon filets on top. Drizzle with the prepared lemon sauce.
When the timer on the potatoes goes off, remove and toss. Place back in the oven along with the broccolini and salmon for 12-15 minutes. Check on the salmon and broccolini around the 8 minute mark. I like my broccolini extra crunchy so I only cooked it until it was bright green. Salmon is done when firm to the touch. Baking time will vary depending on the thickness of the filet.
Divide the veggies and salmon into containers and allow to cool slightly before refrigerating.
Notes You don't have to feel limited to using broccolini here. Use whatever veggies you like. Baking time will vary so just keep an eye on it till it's done to preference.