It is something that's always on your to-do list but somehow never actually happens?
Or is it something you dread because it seems time-consuming and boring?
Trust me, I'm right there with you.
For years meal planning was on my dreaded chore list, and even though I knew having a plan would change the game, I always avoided it.
I was overwhelmed and out of balance, and between the demands of work and family, I struggled to find the time to get organized.
I felt like I needed an extra 6 hours just to meal plan.
And those were 6 hours I didn’t have.
Of course, I tried complicated meal plans, but struggled with unwieldy grocery lists and cooking new recipes each night.
I dreaded grocery shopping, and felt guilty about the amount of unused food I ended up throwing away.
The good news: there is a better way.
A much simpler way.
I’ve finally ditched complicated meal planning in favor of a simple, streamlined system, and I've never looked back.
Today I'm happy to share 5 simple steps to help you ditch the complicated meal plan and still eat healthy, beautiful food every night of the week.
Here's how . . .
1 | Create a Capsule Pantry
A million ingredients weigh you down and clutter your fridge and pantry.
Plus, extra ingredients often end up unused, resulting in wasted food and waisted money.
Instead of buying random ingredients that don't work together, create a pantry of intentionally selected, mix-and-match ingredients.
Like a capsule wardrobe, a capsule pantry is made of up a limited number of versatile ingredients that you love to eat, and that can be combined into a variety of easy, delicious meals.
When your pantry, fridge and freezer is filled with essentials, you'll be able to buy only what you need, and know how to use what you have.
Want the deets on the step-by-step for creating a capsule pantry?
Check this out: How to Create a Capsule Pantry for Simplified Cooking
2 | Ditch Complicated Recipes
We've all fallen into the trap of planning to make a bunch of complicated recipes each week, only to find that we're too exhausted halfway through the week to be able to follow through.
How about instead of trying to plan new, complicated recipes each week, we flip the script and think instead about recipe building blocks.
Recipe building blocks, or the Essential Six, are the essential components of any recipe: sauces, protein, cooked veggies, raw veggies, grains + bases, and toppings + extras.
Thinking in terms of building blocks simplifies planning and streamlines cooking, allowing you to take full advantage of your capsule fridge and pantry.
Once you start thinking of meals in terms of the Essential Six, you'll be able to effortlessly combine them into an infinite number different meals.
Think bowls, tacos, pasta, salads, and stir-frys, just to name a few.
Plus, using the Essential Six method allows you to efficiently shop, plan and prep, without wasted time or money.
3 | Don’t Meal Plan, Meal Map
Traditional meal planning is often too rigid and doesn't leave room for flexibility within any given week.
Instead of setting out to create a complicated meal plan, think instead about creating a loose map to follow, with just enough structure to guide you.
How to create a meal map?
Select a meal type for each day you plan to cook.
So, instead of planning for individual recipes, think about mapping a few meal types, such as tacos, pasta, bowls, stir-frys, and salads.
Then, once you’ve decided on meal types for the week, check your Capsule Pantry to see what you have on hand.
From there, make a loose plan for how you'll mix-and-match the Essential Six.
Choose a sauce to use, then move through the list by selecting a protein, veggies, and so on.
Create a quick grocery list to round-out what you have on hand, an you're good to go.
Want to give try meal mapping in action?
Try this recipe for Slow Cooker Lemon Herb Pulled Chicken + 3 Ways to Use It