Does meal planning never quite go as planned? I met Tony & Melissa, a young “chef” couple and immediately knew I had to get their take on meal planning for a busy life. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do…
Life can feel like a total whirlwind, with schedules filled to the brim sending us from activity to activity. The day flies by and next thing you know it’s time for dinner and bedtime. Amidst all this chaos, ensuring that you have daily meals prepared or even planned can seem like a complete chore. Luckily for us our profession makes meal planning pretty second nature after implementing it into our own routines, so we wanted to share these tips with you.
We totally understand that meal planning isn’t sexy or cool like going to an expensive restaurant where they give you deliciously beautiful meals. It’s the weekly homework that we were assigned as kids that most of us hated, but it can get better. Once you start and keep up with it not only does it get easier, but you can also add in new and exciting recipes to try because as you continue with follow through you also grow your culinary muscles.
Benefits of Meal Planning
Organization: Knowing what you have planned for meals during the week will help keep your life more organized for not just meals but also groceries, shopping, budget, and kitchen organization.
Time: It will take some time to grow your skills in planning and execution, but what we have seen in our clients is that once they get going, planning ahead saves them time in the long run.
Budget: When you plan ahead knowing what your budget is and what you need for the week, it’s a lot easier to stick to a budget. Having a plan also sets you up to having a better chance of avoiding those impulse buys throughout the store since you will have a list of exactly what you need.
Healthy: We know about it firsthand from working in professional kitchens. Not only are portions at restaurants usually bigger, but they also generally have more calories, sodium, sugar and unhealthy fats. When cooking at home YOU control what goes in your food.
How to Create a Flexible Meal Plan
There is not a one size fits all on meal plans, we even did a post on finding a meal plan that fits, that you can check out HERE. We recommend checking it out later if you haven’t already. We all have different family sizes, schedules and activity levels making flexibility in a meal plan super important. Our approach for many families including our own is a flexible meal plan. This allows for having plans that adapt to your schedule and accommodate unexpected changes that may occur. Here is an example of what a flexible meal plan can look like:
3 Main Course Dinners: planned and cooked ahead for easy reheat during the week. Enough for them to last most or all of the week.
Breakfast and Lunch: favorite ingredients on hand for things such as parfaits and shakes for breakfast. Soup made ahead for lunch and/or salad prep done ahead as well.
Snacks: easy grab and go snacks, fruit, and simple cut veggies.
1 Emergency Meal: stored in the freezer for back up. This meal can also be an eat out or order in meal as well.
Select a Plan and Stick With it
When starting something new it takes time to grow your skill and turn it into a routine. It generally takes between 18-254 days to form a new habit and about 66 days for a new behavior to be more automatic. The more you do it the easier it becomes and the more likely it is that you will continue it. That being said, we recommend selecting your plan and really stick to it for 90 days. That really gives you the time to see what you like and don’t like in order to adjust it if need be. Of course, we do understand that there may be a need for some minor changes throughout the 90 days but avoid drastic changes.
Utilize Quick and Easy Recipes
Starting with easy recipes with simple ingredients, steps and that are also quick are a great way to keep your motivation up and overwhelm down. These easy wins with simple recipes are great motivators for you to continue in your meal planning journey. The best part is that there are many recipes that can be done in about 30 minutes making them a huge win for a busy lifestyle.
Batch Cooking or Prepping in Advance
Along with planning out your meals, another helpful step would be cooking all of your meals for the week ahead of time on one day of the week or prepping the ingredients so that each recipe can be done quickly the day of. For us we have found that cooking the meals ahead of time is probably the best route for most families. Why? Because then it’s done, all you have to do is heat it up and enjoy it. We have found that people are more likely to reheat something to enjoy vs cooking the prep. In fact, when we were doing meal prep for clients it killed us each week to see the prep that was wasted because the family was too busy for daily cooking. Because of that we dropped meal prep completely and just cooked meals for clients. Our goal was to help families, not have them waste massive amounts of food, so we recommend if you are super busy, pick a day to cook your meals for the week ahead of time.
Online Meal Plan Resources
While there are a number of different meal plan sites, we do happen to love ours. Two Chef Meal Plans has preset menus that we have put together with similar ingredients, a section for your own saved collections, recipes to pick from, simple allergy substitutions, and an editable shopping list. Our recipes also integrate with Instacart which is a huge bonus for those that want someone else to shop for them. We made the site with the flexibility of a family’s needs in mind. We know there are tons of great meal planning apps and sites to look through but, we would love for you to check out ours.
Two Chef Mission is a husband and wife team with over 15 years of experience each in the culinary industry. With their passion they’re not just cooking, they’re crafting culinary experiences tailored to families and entrepreneurs unique tastes and needs. Their journey has been about more than just food; it’s about sharing creativity, simplifying your kitchen, and making life deliciously convenient. From themed menus to allergy-friendly options, meal delivery to private chef events, they are here to customize and elevate your dining experience.