1. Get some cute ass tools
One thing that I’ve learned in my meal planning journey is that sometimes all the motivation I need is a cute jar filled with delicious food. For me, pulling out a prepared meal at lunch that’s in some cute tupperware makes me feel like a real fucking adult, and it’s kind of amazing what a cute lunch bag can do to change my mood.
Regardless of your reasons for meal prepping, whether it’s because you’re broke as fuck like me or you want to feel less shitty about wasting food, it should still be a fun experience. Even if you’re broke, you don’t have to use that 15 year old tupperware that has been in your garage or a gross old lunchbag. You absolutely can, but if it makes you feel shitty than it’s not worth it.
You can find cheap food storage shit on Amazon, or you can also be extra eco- and wallet-friendly and save all the jars that you get from the grocery store anyway. This is what I do, and it gives my food storage an eclectic aesthetic that makes me happy.
So whether it’s some cute tupperware, jars, or a lunch bag, splurge a little on something cute that will make your day a little bit brighter.
2. A few hours on Sunday saves you a ton of time the rest of the week
Meal planning is really fucking hard to do. There is no easy way, no magical system of organizing it, and unless you want to spend money to pay someone else to do it, you have to do it yourself. When I first started I hated sitting down on Sundays to figure out what I was going to eat for the rest of the week.
After three months of meal planning I can tell you that while it has gotten easier on Sundays to figure out what the fuck I’m doing, it still takes a lot of time and energy to plan out my meals. However the benefits of taking this time are so worth the time put into it.
Before I started this meal planning journey I would often end my day standing at the grocery store thinking “what the fuck should I have for dinner tonight?” to myself. By that point I was almost always tired, underfed from my previous two meals because I never had anything in the house, and hangry because of it.
Since I started meal planning though, I haven’t had this dilemma. I’m forced to be smarter with my time now, and instead of spending 2 hours a day between shopping, cooking, eating, and cleaning (a total of 14 per week), I now only spend about 10 hours a week on the same things.
My week breaks down like this:
- Sunday: 3 hours finding recipes, building shopping lists for the whole week, prepping meals for the first half of the week, and cleaning.
- Wednesday: 2 hours shopping for the second half of the week’s groceries and prepping meals for the second half of the week, and cleaning.
- Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 1 hour cooking, eating, and cleaning up.
Total: 10 hours
Not only do I save about 4 hours every week, I also save a lot of mental and emotional energy. My personal nightmare is wandering through the grocery store at rush hour with no idea what to get and long lines waiting for me at the checkout. I’ve publicly cried in this exact situation been there before and it fucking sucks.
3. Lunch doesn’t get boring every week
When I first started this adventure, I thought I would get bored quickly with eating the same thing every day for lunch.
Frankly, that’s not the case. When I invest time in cooking something fucking dope on a Sunday, it actually makes me really excited to have it for the whole week. A few weeks ago I made an amazing vegan curry in the slow cooker and it lasted me the entire week. Every fucking day at lunch I was excited about eating it because it tasted so good.
That being said, I fully recognize that I am a creature of habit and that some people might get more easily bored with their food. That doesn’t mean that meal planning won’t work for you, you’ll just have to adjust your plan to fit your dietary wants (maybe alternating lunches or making dinners big enough that you have leftovers for lunch the next day).
4. My meals are more nutritionally balanced
When I didn’t meal plan, I didn’t think that much about food.
As a result, my meals were super basic ones that I could make quickly and which were filled with carbs, dairy, and processed foods. By virtue of being a vegetarian I was eating slightly healthier because I wasn’t just getting hamburgers every day, but I was still eating in a really unhealthy way.
Because I’m no longer going to the grocery store at the end of the day and exhaustedly looking for something to quell my hunger, I’m actually having meals that are balanced and are way healthier for me. I know come home to pizzas with roasted veggies and tofu or tacos with sweet potatoes and rice and beans, not just pasta with red sauce.
I also recently converted to veganism, which has also changed how I think about food and my dietary needs, but overall meal planning has given me healthier meals.
5. It gets easier as you go along
Meal planning, like everything else in life, takes practice. The first time I tried it I felt really discouraged; I had no idea how to buy food for one person, how to buy multi-use ingredients, or how to use spices to make a simple meal taste fucking amazing.
I’ve gotten sort of okay at it in the last three months, but this process is a long one. I play around with my food more and have a better idea of how much food I will actually eat at any given meal. It’s a fun ride though, filled with lots of spills and flour, but one that’s also given me access to a bunch of new and interesting foods I never would have made myself.
In short, meal planning is really fucking hard to do, but it’s super rewarding. My 3-month journey in this realm of life has been chaotic and frustrating, but it’s also been really fun. There is no single-best way to meal plan; rather you just have to find a system that works for you. After a lot of trial an error you’ll eventually get the hang of it!