Meal Planning 101!

Hey folks!

Today I'm going to revisit something I've talked about here before which is the importance of meal planning.  No, I'm not talking about deciding which of your favorite take out spots you're going to hit up tonight!  I'm talking about the importance of meal prep!

Here are a few quick tips and motivation to start planning your meals in advance, here we go with a little 101 on the matter!

1) A meal prepared is a dollar saved- Who doesn't want to save more money on a regular basis? When you plan and prepare your meals ahead of time, the dollars you save REALLY add up!  If you take that $10-$15 you could easily spend eating out (per meal) each day and instead use it towards groceries, you will definitely come out better financially.

2) Helps you make better choices- When you prepare your own meals at home, you are in charge of the ingredients.  You know exactly what you're putting in your food and you have control over what you eat.  Oftentimes restaurants (yes, even vegan ones) can be a little liberal on the amount of oil, salt and sugar added to the food.  When you make your own meals, you have complete control over what goes in and what stays out.  Now, I know some of you may be a little liberal at home too, but when you are actually the one making it, there is a different type of accountability.  Also, making your own meals ahead of time saves you from picking up random snacks and treats on the go which can pile on the calories and ultimately weight gain you may not be wanting.

3) Keep it simple- Let's be honest, the reason why a lot of people eat out more is because it's quick and easy and they don't have to cook.  When you make your own meals at home, it doesn't have to be difficult or elaborate.  This past week, I threw together some spiced chickpeas (just seasoned them with some of my favorite spices) and put them on a bed of sauteed kale, spinach and onions and I made enough to make five portions to get me through the work week!  This whole dish took me about 20 minutes to make.  Aside from that, I put together a fruit bowl and had ingredients on hand to make three different types of smoothies to have throughout the week as well!  
Chopped up fruit and veggies for my smoothies

I would also encourage you to think of one pot dishes you can make to take you through the week and you can even make enough to freeze a portion of it to last you even longer.  Work smarter, not harder is the motto here.  It may take you a few hours combined to make enough food to last you through the week, but you will be SO happy you did when all you have to do is grab and go!  This is the best type of fast food.

4) Cut out the excuses- There is always room to make excuses,  "I don't feel like it", "I don't have time", " I don't really eat out that much", etc, etc. When it comes to living at your absolute best, you don't have room for excuses.  What you put in your body should take TOP priority.  You need the right type and amount of fuel to operate at your absolute best, so make the necessary sacrifices in order to make that happen.  You can choose one day out of the week to put together a shopping list and another day to set aside a couple of hours to prepare it all or you can knock it out all in one day.  However you choose to do it,  this would only equal about 5 hours out of your week which I KNOW you can spare. 

5) Help is available- If the thought of coming up with meal ideas is in fact very daunting for you, there are TONS of resources and cookbooks out there for you to check out!  One of my all time favorite resources is VegWeb.  They have categorized and rated recipes to make it very easy to sort through.  So, you don't need a live-in chef (though that would definitely be nice) to help you because there are plenty of places you can turn to for advice right at your fingertips!

Alright now, enough talk, it's time to get planning and preparing! 

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