When my clients hear me say “meal planning”, they envision hours spent slaving in the kitchen prepping, chopping and cooking for the week. But meal planning doesn’t have to be that time consuming – spending even 30 minutes each week can help set you up for meal success. Try these six tips and get your week started off on a healthy foot.

A Dietitian's Top Meal Planning Tips

Prepare breakfast the night before

Mornings are rushed, but a healthy breakfast shouldn’t have to fall by the wayside. Save time and make your breakfast the night before. Overnight oats and chia seed pudding both take just two to three minutes to make – stick them in the fridge, and they’re ready to eat come morning. Or whip up a batch of baked oatmeal or egg muffin cups, and you’ll have breakfast ready to go for the week.

Prep your produce right away

How many times have you stocked up on fruits and veggies, only to have them go bad before you end up eating them? Instead of sticking them in the crisper drawer (where you’ll promptly forget about them) spend a few minutes when you get home from the grocery store doing some prep work. Wash and chop hard vegetables like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower or celery and put them into individual bags or containers so you can quickly have them as a snack. Tear up leafy greens or remove them from the stem, so when you’re ready to use them you just have to give them a quick rinse in the sink.

Cook once, eat twice (or more)

Plan ahead for leftovers and double or triple your recipes. You’ll do the same amount of work, but have more meals on hand. Use extra servings as packable lunches and dinners for busy weeknights. Freezer friendly recipes like soup, casseroles, or burgers can be made in batches and freeze for later use. Or try preparing extra protein, such as chicken, fish or steak, and using the leftovers to top salads or sandwiches later in the week.

Batch roast your veggies

Vegetables are the one food group most people fall short on. Make it easy to add veggies to meals by batch roasting them once a week. Buy a variety of fresh vegetables such as broccoli, peppers, onions, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, asparagus. Cut them into 1-inch pieces, toss with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, then roast at 400 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes (thicker veggies may take longer). Toss the roasted vegetables in salads, make them into an omelet, or pair them with a protein and a whole grain for a simple dinner.

Make a big batch of soup

Soups and stews come together quickly and are the perfect vehicle for vegetables, protein, beans and spices. Make a large batch, pour a few servings into single serve containers for weekday lunches or dinners, then freeze the rest.

Have a few go-to recipes

While it’s great to try new meals, busy days call for a recipe you can easily and quickly toss together. Find two or three recipes that you like and can easily cook, and make these your go-tos. Keep the ingredients on hand at all times, so you can make it in a pinch. Don’t forget to fill your freezer with Luvo, if you’re in a rush it’s a great, nutritious option.

What is your favorite way to meal plan? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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