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From Grocery List to Table: Meal Planning and Prep Ideas to Make Your Week a Breeze

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Meal planning and meal prep are essential tools for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Whether you're trying to manage PCOS, support a healthy pregnancy or postpartum experience, or simply maintain a balanced diet, planning and preparing your meals in advance can save time, reduce stress, and make it easier to stay on track with your goals. Here are some tips for successful meal planning and meal prep:

1. Start with a plan

The first step in successful meal planning and prep is to have a plan. Decide on your meals for the week ahead and make a shopping list of the ingredients you need. This will help you avoid last-minute trips to the grocery store and make it easier to stick to your healthy eating plan.

2. Choose simple recipes

When planning your meals, choose recipes that are simple and easy to prepare. Look for recipes with minimal ingredients and steps. This will save you time and make meal prep less overwhelming. There are many healthy and delicious recipes available online that are quick and easy to prepare.

3. Use time-saving tools

Invest in time-saving tools like a slow cooker, instant pot, or food processor. These appliances can help you prepare meals quickly and easily, with minimal effort. For example, you can use a slow cooker to make soups, stews, and casseroles, which can be prepped in advance and cooked while you are at work.

4. Prep ahead of time

Prepping ingredients ahead of time can save you time and make meal prep easier. For example, you can chop vegetables, cook rice or quinoa, or marinate meats in advance. You can also prep snacks and breakfast foods, like overnight oats or chia seed pudding, in advance to save time during busy mornings.

5. Batch cook

Batch cooking is a great way to save time and make meal prep easier. Cook a large batch of a recipe, like soup, chili, or stir-fry, and portion it out for the week ahead. This can save you time during the week and help you avoid impulse-buying takeout or unnecessary groceries.

6. Freeze meals

If you are short on time during the week, consider freezing meals for later. You can freeze soups, stews, and casseroles in individual portions and reheat them during the week. This can save you time and ensure that you have healthy meals on hand when you need them.

7. Plan for healthy snacks

Healthy snacks are an important part of a balanced diet. They can help you stay energized throughout the day and prevent overeating at meals. Make healthy snacks like chopped vegetables, hummus, or roasted nuts in advance and portion them out for the week. This can help save you time and keep you satisfied in between meals. 

8. Choose recipes with overlapping ingredients

When selecting recipes for the week, look for dishes that use similar ingredients so you can save money and reduce waste. For example, if one recipe calls for kale and another calls for spinach, you can buy a large container of leafy greens and use them in both recipes.

9. Try out a meal planning service like Cook Smarts:

Each week Cook Smarts sends out 4 new recipes that incorporate a variety of proteins, vegetables, and flavors with ready-to-go substitutions for vegetarian, paleo, and gluten-free diets that can be further customized to meet every dietary need. Also included is a made-for-you grocery list that you can edit and can even send to Instacart to make shopping that much easier. Cook Smarts also provides a summary list of prep steps to make weeknight cooking faster. Sign up to try it out for free for 14 days. Have a loved one who is postpartum and could use some help with meal planning? Or looking for a Mother’s Day gift for a busy mom in your life? Give the gift of meal planning with a Cook Smarts gift certificate.


Meal planning and prep are essential tools for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and can help support your nutrition goals. By starting with a plan, choosing simple recipes, using time-saving tools, prepping ahead of time, batch cooking, freezing meals, and making healthy snacks, you can save time, reduce stress, and stay on track with your healthy eating goals. 

If you are struggling with your diet and meal planning, working with a registered dietitian could be right for you. I provide nutrition counseling services that include an individualized nutrition plan to help meet your personal goals. For more information about my services or to schedule a free introductory call, email


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