3 Meal Planning Tips for Beginners

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As a wellness coach, meal planning is something that comes up quite often with my coaching clients. Most people want to make healthier choices and figure out how to set themselves up for success. Planning and its big sister prepping are intended to be strategies to help streamline the decision making process and cut down on time spent on meals during busier days. 

That being said, there is an incredible amount of information on this topic out there and as with anything else, too much information, or strategies that are too complicated can lead to an effect known as "analysis paralysis"- there is so much information that you don't know where to begin...so you don't.

Meal planning has many benefits and for me, the most important one is saving time in the evenings. If I have a busy day, I don't like having to decide what to have for dinner at the last minute. Chris, my husband, is really talented at throwing ingredients together, but I don't have as much practice. (Did I mention how lucky I am to have a partner who cooks amazing vegan food?!) It makes it much easier to have a plan and be prepared with all of the ingredients I'll need. In addition to saving time, I believe that meal planning saves money. Cooking at home is usually much less expensive than eating out. If I have a meal plan and the ingredients, I am much less likely to go out to eat. (And see Tip #2 below if you find yourself running out of time to cook due to a varied schedule)

The three tips I'm sharing with today are extremely basic- and this is the point. To give you a place to start if meal planning is something you're curious about.

Tip #1- Break Up The Week

In my experience, it has always been easier to meal plan for a few days at a time, rather than try to look at the whole entire week all at once. If I'm meal planning on a Sunday, I will usually meal plan through Wednesday evening. Then Wednesday, I will plan through the weekend. Fridays are usually the "takeout" night in our house (with delicious vegan Chinese food as the default) so that helps break up the planning even more. Breaking up the week into 2 sets of "mini-planning" makes the process a lot less overwhelming. It does require a potential second trip to the grocery store, but you aren't buying as many things, so hopefully you're out more quickly.


Tip #2- Have an Easy Backup Plan on Hand

Sometimes I will plan on these awesome dinners where I am trying a new recipe that might take a bit longer than usual to prepare. I also know that there are days where plans go awry, schedules get changed, and suddenly you don't have the hour you had set aside to make dinner. This is why I always have easy meal ingredients like pasta*, veggie burgers**, and salad fixings on hand. As I mentioned above, this will help to prevent an unplanned trip out to eat.

* I like the Organic Black Bean Spaghetti from Explore Cuisine- 25 grams of protein/serving!

** Another household favorite is the Morningstar Roasted Garlic and Quinoa burgers



Tip #3- Leftovers are Your Friends

99% of the time I plan on leftovers for lunch. It's so much easier to make a little extra of dinner the night before and pack it up in a container to grab the next day. Whether you work from home, in an office, or out in the field, it's really helpful to not have to worry about cobbling something together for lunch. Sometimes Chris will also take leftover quinoa, rice, and/or veggies from a previous meal to make a nice stir-fry with tofu. Using what you have in your fridge also reduces food waste and saves money.


Do you have any meal planning tips that have helped you to be successful?

Getting Back on Track


As a health and wellness professional, there is always a low-level of pressure that I put on myself to make sure that I'm "walking the walk" so to speak. I would say I try my hardest to live by example- making sure that I get enough movement during the day, eating fruits, veggies, and whole grains (promoting a vegan lifestyle), and allowing time for self-care.

Lately though, I've been feeling a little off track with my physical fitness. I'm lucky that I fence 2-3 times a week and walk with my dog every day which usually helps me meet my 10k steps. However, I set a goal at the beginning of the year to be consistent with a strength training program and there have been a lot of bumps in the road.

I've been giving it some thought over the past few days (thanks to my fellow CAPP-sters for coaching the coach) and I came to a few realizations.

  1. I'm very hard on myself. This is something I'm working on. I'm trying to appreciate my body in its current state and being thankful for all of the things it allows me to do.
  2. I keep trying to stick to a "program" of some sort instead of just allowing myself to do whatever works for me on a particular day/time. I already get a lot of cardio with fencing and walking with my dog so I really wanted to have a strength training routine to complement those things. The program I was doing at home used weights but wasn't the heavier lifting I was looking for.
  3. I need to spend a bit more time in the preparation stage- making sure my workout clothes are clean and laid out, having shoes that are comfortable, and keeping my workout area clean and tidy.

I know how important physical fitness is and I'm a pretty motivated person. I actually like working out if you can believe it. It was challenging to figure out what was getting in the way of my success and it was really helpful to pick apart the process. When all is said and done I don't care if I start and stop a hundred times with a hundred different workouts, as long as I never stop permanently.

The reason I'm sharing this is because the road to well-being is rarely a linear path. There may be bumps, curves, and obstacles that get in your way. The important thing is to never lose sight of where you are going. Pull over if you need to, re-orient yourself, and enjoy the journey.

May Favorites 2016

Happy Thursday Wellness Warriors! This week's blog kicks off a monthly series where I share a few of my favorite things with you from the month prior.  Everything in this post is something that I have tried, loved, and would highly recommend.

I've been making the switch to cruelty-free and vegan beauty products, as I run out of certain things and I've been really impressed with the following:

1. Jane Iredale Glow Time Full Coverage Mineral BB Cream
I have a confession to make. I have heard of Jane Iredale over the last few years, in passing, but I made the weird assumption that it was a brand marketed towards older women. (Ugh, I know, such a weird thought!) Of course, to my surprise, Jane Iredale is a mineral based makeup line free of perfume, alcohol, artificial dyes, and nasty chemicals. Luckily for pale people like myself, most of her products also have SPF. During my research, I found a ton of great reviews for the Glow Time BB Cream and decided to give it a go. I was really looking for something that was full coverage to replace my Estee Lauder DoubleWear Foundation (which is, sadly, not cruelty free) and after checking out some color swatches I decided on the color BB 3. I am in LOVE with this BB Cream! It does, indeed, provide a full coverage and great finish. For reference, I am very fair, with a slight case of rosacea/redness, and normal skin. The BB cream retails on the Jane Iredale website for $48.00 US but I actually got mine on Overstock.com for $35.49 US which is comparable to most other mid-priced foundations.

2. Evolvh Leave- In Conditioner
I have recently become a huge fan of  the "green" beauty movement and was perusing Credo Beauty when I came across the Evolvh hair care line. I decided to try the Smart Start Leave-In Conditioner as an introduction to brand. For reference, my hair is colored, a little dry, and prone to tangles, and this product delivered on it's claims to detangle and soften. I love that there are no harsh ingredients and my hair is left silky, shiny, and lightly scented. I bought the full sized (8.5 oz) bottle which may be a little pricey for some at $27.00 US, but I feel like it will last a while. If you want to try it before committing, Credo Beauty does have a 2 oz bottle for $10.00 US.

3. Pacifica Dream Big Mascara
I had some extra time before meeting a friend one day and so what else is a girl to do but check out the local Target? I was browsing the beauty aisles when I came across some new Pacifica products. I was familiar with their perfumes and candles, but recently they have built up their line of beauty products and cosmetics. Let me rave about Pacifica here for a moment. All of their products are vegan, cruelty-free, marketed at a great price point, and can be found at Target and Ulta. I purchased the Dream Big Lash Extending 7 in 1 mascara at Target that day and (full disclosure) perhaps it was partly due to the fact that there were stars and unicorns on the packaging. (It was basically calling my name.) I think this is a fantastic mascara and reasonably priced at $15.99.

I've also been working hard on my personal health and fitness goals so I'd thought I share some of my recent favorites from that category.

4. NuGo Bars
Of course whole foods are best, but when I'm traveling or out for a day, I really like a snack that I can toss in my bag or leave in my car for emergencies. Also, I have a sweet tooth and the fact that these have really nice ingredients (especially considering this is a packaged, grab-and-go snack) and are vegan gives these bars a lot of bonus points! They even passed my husband's taste test and he does not like very many bars.They come in lots of different flavors but my personal favorites are the NuGo Dark Mint Chocolate Chip and the NuGo Dark Chocolate Pretzel with Sea Salt. You can find them by the box on Nugo Nutrition Website for $19.00 or (as with most things) for slightly cheaper on Amazon.com. I also buy them individually at my local Whole Foods.

5. New Rules of Lifting for Women Workout
 I bought this book years ago after it started getting raves in some of the fitness forums I frequented. I tried it for a while and started seeing results so I have no idea why I stopped. I think it's because I didn't belong to the gym at the time and didn't have enough equipment to do the workouts at home. I've tried many other workouts since then, with varying degrees of success, but decided to dust this book off about 2 months ago. I had not lifted in a while so starting this workout program definitely left me struggling to get up the two flights of stairs in my house. As the weeks go by I can definitely feel myself getting stronger and leaning out. Bonus- the Stage 1 workouts are about 30 minutes if you do them at home with the "home workout alternative exercises" that they provide. This book can be purchased on Amazon for $14.00. (I also encourage you to check out your local library.)

6. Vega One Sport Performance Protein Powder
After transitioning to the vegan lifestyle about a month or so ago, I was on the lookout for a tasty plant-based protein powder that I could use in smoothies. The Chocolate flavor tastes like chocolate caramel and I love it! I also like the extra calorie boost that it gives me, especially on days when I'm weight lifting. I usually add this to almond milk, bananas, and spinach for a delicious snack that tastes like a milkshake. I purchased mine at Whole Foods but it is also available at Amazon for $41.00 and comes in Berry, Vanilla, and Chocolate.