The Ultimate Guide to Meal Planning and Prepping

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Do you find yourself so hungry and so tired that you don’t care what you eat you just need food and you need it right now!?

Are you eating your lunch and thinking about what you are going to have for dinner?Are you at work knowing you don’t have food at home and rationalizing to yourself that you should hit up 2 different drive throughs on your way home so that you can have the best burger and the best fires? And then you’ll be “good” tomorrow… So, you need to get dessert too.

Well, don’t worry, that is completely normal. We are wired to be this way. Many of our ancestors died of famine and we evolved to eliminate that possibility.

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We are creatures that are controlled (unless we are aware of it, and do something about it) by our ancient biology, AKA, our bacteria. Billions of bacteria live on and in us and control most of what we do. They are in charge of the fear we feel, the fact that we want to eat everything that we see, fornicate with whatever is left and make friends all along the way.

What’s Ahead:

  • Why meal prepping and planning is so important for sticking to health goals
  • How meal prepping and planning can save you time
  • How to plan your meals
  • How to shop for your meals
  • How to prepare your food and meals
  • Being creative and making it your own
  • Leftovers, go-to meals, batch cooking and appliances

Changing your fear response, your nervous system, your emotional reactions to things, your relationships and your body are things that take up a lot of energy. In order to have the energy to do this, it is vital that you feed your body what it needs. And, when you are tired and hungry it is very likely that you will let those ancient bacteria run their program of eating whatever they see.

Don’t let decision fatigue or hunger be the reason you lose all the great progress you have made, or hold you back from eating the way that you really want to.

Pumping your body with high quality food will change the way you operate in the world. It will increase your energy levels, it will lower inflammation, it will decreases stress, boost your immune response, increases creativity and if you have fat to lose, you will lose fat!

But, what about all the time that it takes to cook healthy meals? I don’t have that kind of luxury or the money for a personal chef.

To that, I ask, what are your priorities? Do you want more energy? Do you want to feel better? Do you want to be more loving to your family and friends? Do you want to lose weight and keep it off? If the answer is yes, then it is time to prioritize your self care and your health. When you really want something, you will move mountains to get it. Nothing will stand in your way. So, do you really want this? I know you can do it. It is a matter of choice.

You can instantly increase your energy by feeding your body what it needs. And you can create time by freeing up your mental bandwidth.

So, if you choose your health, congratulations! You are a part of a small percentage of people that are choosing to take control of their health, and you will be rewarded handsomely for it.

Let’s Begin

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Efficient and effective meal planning is a must if you are going to expect to stick to it.

Efficient and effective meal planning can be a life changer! Ultimately, if you want to sustainably lose weight, gain more energy and get healthier, cooking at home is extremely effective because you have complete control over what is going into your meal and body.

Efficient means it does not take too much time and you are not throwing away food that has gone rotten, because let’s face it, eating healthy organic foods can be costly.

Effective means that it leaves you feeling satiated, it’s tasty, you’re accessing higher energy frequencies and reaching your health goals.

If Time Your Biggest Factor, Let’s Do the Math…

Meal Planning & PreppingNot Meal Planning or Prepping
Planning the menu = 30 minutesThinking/ talking/ arguing about what you are going to eat for 3 meals a day 7 days a week= 5-10 minutes = 1 hour 45 – 3.5 hours
Creating a shopping list = 20 minutesGoing to a restaurant= 1 hour per visit and that doesn’t include deciding on which restaurant, or driving to and from the restaurant. 3 x’s per week = 3 hours
Going shopping= 2 hoursCalling a delivery service = 10min 2 x’s per week = 20 minutes
Preparing the food = 4 hoursGoing to a drive through = 30 minutes (at least) round trip. 2 x’s per week = 1 hour
Re-heating & Plating your Food = 5 minutes x 3meals x 7days = 1 hour 45 minutesMaking food from scratch= 15-45 minutes (if you know what you are doing). 14 meals a week = 3.5 hours – 10.5 hours
Total Time Spent = 8 hours and 35 minutesTotal Time Spent = 8 – 36 hours
Health Goals Achieved = YESHealth Goals Achieved = NO

Of course these numbers vary depending on whether or not you have help, if you are cooking for one vs. cooking for others and your experience level.

The more comfortable you get with a system of preparing foods the easier and faster it becomes.

Make a Menu

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This helps in 2 ways

  • 1 You will create a shopping list based on the menu and when you go shopping you can more easily avoid unhealthy impulse buys. Make sure you eat before you go shopping and stick to your list.
  • 2 It will decrease the likelihood of you overeating. When you are hungry and tired it is less likely that you will choose food wisely. If you know exactly what you are going to eat, you are less likely to act impulsively.
BreakfastRotate between a few simple and nutrient dense foodsSmoothie, Bulletproof coffee, Soft boiled eggs & berries, Avocado & smoked fish
LunchRotate between a few simple and nutrient dense foodsSalad, Turkey Wrap, Smoothie, Leftovers
DinnerFollow a pattern so that you can get in a nice rhythm. Make choices based on your scheduleMonday- New Recipe
Tuesday- Leftovers
Wednesday- Theme Night (keep it simple)
Thursday- Recipe
Friday- Leftovers
Saturday- Recipe
Sunday- Eat Out / Order In

Sample meal planning Template


Menu Template

Have a Weekly Shopping Day

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Having a shopping list makes it way easier to get in and out of the store and avoid falling victim to advertisers’ mind games.

  • Avoid aisles as much as possible. Most fresh produce and meats are on the perimeter of the store. Aisle shopping is for condiments, spices and frozen fruits, veggies and meats.
  • Go shopping alone to decrease your chances of being distracted or influenced into veering from your plan.
  • Be wary of anything placed at eye level. This is done on purpose by marketers to get your attention.

Have a Weekly or Bi-Weekly Prep Day

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Have a few bulk meals on your menu and set aside 1 or 2 afternoons or evenings to prepare big healthy batch meals for the week. Divide them into portions and refrigerate or freeze them.

When you’re in a hurry later that week or just don’t have any time, you can reach for an already cooked healthy meal.

Slice and Dice, is so Nice… and Time Consuming

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Cleaning, cutting and chopping vegetables is surprisingly time consuming.

Doing it all at once, once a week and then storing them in their own little containers is so helpful and makes cooking a breeze!

If you are in a pinch you grab a little bit of this and a little bit of that and boom, you have a gourmet salad!

If you are cooking for others this works great for make your own pizza, wrap or salad themed nights.

Have Some Go-To Fall Back Meals

Having a lovely Instagram ready meal is wonderful and all but life happens and sometimes you don’t get the right ingredients, you run out of something. Or you are just busy. Save the fancy cooking for when you have a little more time to relax.

Have a few staple items like oatmeal, trail mix or smoothies to fall back on when you are in a pinch or really don’t feel like doing anything.

And don’t be afraid to throw everything in a pot and call it soup. Make it a salad or a wrap. There are no rules.

Pack Your Lunch a Night in Advance

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Pack your lunch, dinner or breakfast for work or school the night before. Put it all together in a bag and grab it on your way out the door. If you are working from home grab it on your lunch break. That way, you don’t have to take time out of your busy day to prepare something, or figure out what to eat.

Take Full Advantage of Leftovers

Yum, yum, yum, eat it ’till it’s done (That’s what she said)!

Use leftovers as lunch for the next day. Make a big lunch or big dinner and save the rest for your next meal. Throw everything in some eggs and call it an omelet. Go crazy.

When I think about my entire lifetime and all the meals that I have eaten, I am pretty boring. I have like 3-5 different things that I love for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We think we are so interesting, and that we would get bored of the same few meals over and over again but if you examine your eating patterns, chances are you can be pretty predictable and content with eating a few staples and adding in whatever is in season.

Of course it is always encouraged to try new recipes, and add in what you love, but you don’t have to be doing something new every week.

Use Appliances

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The slow cooker is amazing for throwing in a bunch of stuff and having a delicious meal later. Set it and forget it… until you eat it.

Air fryers are amazing for getting that crunchy feel of fried foods without all the oxidized fats. Especially setting it at a lower temperature for a longer time.

The Instant Pot is cool if you are going to be canning food, and you like things that break. For me it was just too many moving parts and it ended up breaking. I like the simplicity of a slow cooker.

If you found this helpful

Feel free to like, share and/ or subscribe!

I am honored that you have chose to be here with me. I only create things that I feel will, in the end, save you time, money and mental energy when reaching your health goals.

If you Want Personalized Coaching

If you would like to work with me and co-create a menu based on your individual needs, health goals, life history, and environment, I offer these services as part of my coaching program.

head over to my 1-on-1 Transformational Nutrition Coaching page for more details and to schedule your free discovery call.

If you don’t lose weight, you don’t pay me a penny!

Thank you and I love you,

Jessica Ray

Certified Transformational Nutrition Coach

Published by Jessica CTNC

I am a Certified Transformational Nutrition Coach (CTNC). I guide women through the wonderful world of transformational science, psychology and spirituality. I remind them of how to love their bodies and love their food so that they can stop yo-yo dieting, live life on purpose, have more energy and inspire those around them to do the same.

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