14 Tips to Simplify your Meal Planning

meal planning

These days we usually are so busy, we are not able to prepare the right foods.

So what do we do?

We end up eating unhealthy fast/frozen food. In many cases, people who are trying to lose weight go on complicated diets that have too many requirements to remember, let alone keep up with!

However, you can eliminate stress and be healthier at the same time by ensuring that we stick to nutritious meals and stay away from the pre-packed items. But how?

It all comes down to preparation! But it doesn’t have to be complicated.


Have you tried planning your meals in advance and batching tasks together?


This was one of the first things I did in my Essentialism journey and it made so much difference! Not only did it improve my diet, my energy levels and general happiness but it saved me so much money and time.

Here are my 14 tips on how to simplify your meal preparation so you have more time to focus on making memories:


  1. I have a digital master-list of healthy nutritious meals that are simple/quick to make, that I know my family loves. I often like to experiment with new recipes and if they are a hit, they go on the master-list! Download here.
  1. I then spend 15 mins every 2 weeks reviewing our family calendar to see what events we have. I use the master-list to then plan our meals around our schedule. (Busy days i may plan a one pot meal for example)
  1. I then place an online order for the non fresh food items required for the full two weeks. Online shopping is great as it stops you impulse buying biscuits that are on offer, and you only buy what you need = less temptation & less waste!
  1. The day before my meal prep day I either pop to the local grocers or order from my local organic trader for delivery of my fresh vegetable/meat items.

meal planning

5. Find Time: I use a couple of hours on a Sunday morning. Believe you me, it is worth it:

Prepare in advance and eat for 2 weeks!

6. Double or Triple Up: Whatever meals you have scheduled try to make them in bulk. It doesn’t take much extra time to make but you can end up with multiple meals rather than one.

7. Any ingredient overlaps? If you can use more than one thing across dishes, the bulk prep can be quicker.

meal planning

  1. Make sure you have good quality storage containers! I find plastic bags are easier for space saving in the fridge/freezer. Make sure you allow things to cool and squeeze all the air our and that way it is easier to stack.
  1. Chop vegetables: chop all the veg you will need for the week ready to go! Store them in container in the fridge ready to just pick up and eat/cook. These will typically last a week.
  1. Cook small: Instead of making large casserole-style dishes, if you’re making something like meatloaf, make it in individual portions instead of a whole loaf. Or, choose recipes that are already made pre-portioned, like muffins! That way, when you freeze it, it’s already ready to go, rather than you needing to thaw the whole portion and then take what you need out.
  1. Go raw: You don’t have to cook everything up front!

    I prefer to make marinades and add the raw meat and freeze straight away. On the morning, remove and allow to defrost and marinade in the fridge.

  1. Create building blocks: Similar to a bouillon cube, you can make yourself meal building blocks to get dinner started in a jiffy. Freeze pre-portioned packets of chicken or vegetable stock, pesto, or herb compound butter, or make up baggies of your own spice mixes

meal planning

  1. Anything prepared, label with a sharpie. Add the name, date it was made and the date it is allocated for.
  1. Organise: Clean out your fridge & freezer and make room for your meals!

Once everything is prepared in advance, you can relax! Keep your meal plan to hand and then ensure you remove anything from your freezer in the morning or the night before to fully defrost. Cooking time is so much quicker and easier and you will have saved yourself hours!

When it comes to healthy eating, you just can’t beat your own kitchen. In fact, I’ll guarantee that the more you cook at home, the healthier you will be. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Stores such as Lidl, Aldi & farmers markets provide great quality produce at a reasonable price.

In order to help you on your journey I am so happy to share with you my own personal meal planner – it’s 100% FREE! It is my gift to you, so go grab your digital planner now here.

meal planning

What are you favourite freezable recipes?

Simple Joy was founded by Hayley Forster, a Wellness & Lifestyle Coach. Hayley is an advocate of intentional living, with a passion in helping others simplify their lives in order to find their ideal lifestyle full of contentment, creativity and authenticity!

  • Clair
    June 3, 2017

    This was awesome and so true! If I plan my meals ahead of time and I am organized, keeps things healthy or at least healthier. I love the digital master list you shared 😁 Thank you!

    • SimpleAdmin
      June 3, 2017

      My pleasure! Prep is the key. Pleased you like it 🙂

  • susie liberatore
    June 3, 2017

    These are all great tips and this is where I need to improve. I am glad that I found your blog!

    • SimpleAdmin
      susie liberatore
      June 4, 2017

      I am so pleased to hear that! Thank you very much.

  • Jessica Peresta
    June 4, 2017

    Great tips! I meal plan every week and also look at our upcoming weekly calendar to figure out what to plan each night. It has really helped my sanity ha!

    • SimpleAdmin
      Jessica Peresta
      June 9, 2017

      That’s great! It has made a huge difference to me!

  • Lisa
    June 4, 2017

    This is great. I have five kids and meal planning is so important to making sure we eat healthy but also that I get meals prepped and served on time every day. haha

    • SimpleAdmin
      June 10, 2017

      It’s so crucial! The main reason I have put on weight is down to not planning properly

  • Carrie Ostergard
    June 5, 2017

    Amazing tips!!! I need to work on meal planning more. I love doing it and was doing really good. Then the past 2 months were insane busy and I got lazy. Its driving me nuts like ugh now summer is here,schools out and I have to work on a get this all organized and DO it now. Even hubby was like ummmm what happend to your planning. Pinning this for sure!!!

    • SimpleAdmin
      Carrie Ostergard
      June 10, 2017

      Haha! Totally get that. It’s so hard to be motivated to do it. Try downloading my meal planner and it should make it much less painless!

  • Stephanie Lowry
    June 7, 2017

    I love your meal planner! And such great tips. You really made meal planning simple.

    • SimpleAdmin
      Stephanie Lowry
      June 10, 2017

      Thanks so much!

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