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Practical Meal Planning & Meal Ideas


Bubbles under water
Photo credit: Ella Olsson
 

It is normal to spend time thinking about what, when and where to eat.


One of the most common questions clients ask is: ‘How do I make meals that are quick, easy and convenient?’


In our busy lives with hectic schedules, it can be hard to find the time to plan meals. If we have an eating disorder, the need to plan ahead can be even more stressful.


Unless you have access to a private chef who also does the grocery shopping, you need to think about a general food plan daily to be able to have the opportunity to eat enough food and eat a variety of food. If you’re in ED recovery, you may need to think about your food plan even more.


Thinking about food - what you’ll eat, when you will eat, and how you will procure and make the food you need is normal - throughout life. Finding a balance between thinking about food and other things in life can be hard, and today I’m hoping to offer some ideas on how to meal prep  make nourishing, adequate meals so you can put some attention on eating but not overthink it.




 

What are some simple meal planning strategies?


When we hear ‘meal prep’, we often think of a perfect line of glass Mason Jars with veggie salads in them or a fridge peppered with containers that house a meal with a starch, protein and veggie.


While there is nothing inherently wrong with this picture, I would argue this is not how meal prep actually looks!


Sometimes meal prep and cooking will feel like a chore. Sometimes, it will be enjoyable. Sometimes it means prepping a few ingredients, sometimes an entire meal. Sometimes it will be messy, sometimes it won’t. All normal!


Meal prepping ideas to support nourishment:

  • Poach chicken to use in quesadillas, soups, chicken salad, pasta, tacos, onigiri, etc. This involves boiling chicken breast in water for 20 minutes, letting it cool and then cutting it up or pulling apart with fingers into smaller pieces.

  • Make grains like rice, bulgur, quinoa and pastas ahead of time and use them in grain salads, bowls, morning cereals, and more.

  • Make hardboiled eggs at a time to have for snacks or for breakfast.

  • Buy more bread, bagels, muffins, cookies, etc than you think you need and freeze them for the next time you need them.

  • Roast vegetables to incorporate into pasta/rice dishes, salads, sides of meals, omelets, frittatas, pizzas, curries, etc.

  • Roast potatoes, and use in breakfast with eggs or a dinner/lunch meal.

  • Cut up tofu and cook on a skillet, then keep for stir-fries through the week.

  • Using ground meats is versatile. They can be cooked in 10 minutes in a skillet then added to a stir fry or sauce. For instance, you can add ground chicken to Chinese noodles, veggies and make a soy sauce-based dressing.

  • Use canned beans, lentils and tuna to save money, time and energy. May sure to drain then add to rice and some frozen veggies with cheese, dressing, avocado, etc to make a meal.


Simple Meal Ideas


You also do not need to be a skilled cook or even like cooking that much to put together meals that are nourishing and satisfying.


Some easy meal ideas:

  • Quick soup like this one can be go-to meals. You can consider making a more complex meal like lasagna at the same time and have dinners for 3-4 nights.

  • A bowl concept can be used in many ways - think of a flavor profile or cuisine you like and make a bowl with that in mind. For instance, if you like Italian-inspired dishes, you could go for orzo, white beans, sliced up tomatoes and zucchini (raw is fine), and pesto. Or, if you love falafel, get store bought falafel and pair with rice, hummus, tzatziki, cucumbers and tomatoes.

  • Cut up raw veggies and put those out at a meal, alongside a sandwich or pizza.

  • Make egg salad, tuna salad or chicken salad (from the poached chicken) and make a sandwich or salad with it.

  • Breakfast for lunch or dinner. Omelet, frittata, fried eggs with bagels can work!

  • Make one-pot dishes like this turkey chili.

  • Try frozen pizza and consider what you can add to it. For instance, chicken sausage and veggies or arugula and figs.

  • Make a meal from dips, olives, cheese, breads, crackers, pickled veggies, and more. It can be a fun mix of offerings with little prep. Here is a beet tzatziki recipe I absolutely love.


Closing Thoughts


Preparing and making food does not have to take a ton of time and energy, but it does require some. And, it takes some planning and practice.


Again, this is all normal!


By trying some of these ideas, my hope is you may feel more confident about your ability to feed yourself.


With hope,

Kate


Need help getting the food? Here is my blog post on grocery shopping.


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